Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! I stayed up till 2 and slept till 9:15, and now I feel like a cheerful zombie. "Amie" was the number-1 most-sung-along-with song in our show, handily squelching "Wagon Wheel." Even the sloshed 30-year-olds in the corner knew the "Amie" chorus. Moreover, a comic minister, out to dinner with his wife, told me that this Christmas he'd wrapped up a bitten peanut-butter-and-fluff sandwich and put it under the tree as a present for his kids--priceless information, and a challenge for everyone who enjoys lacing holidays with absurdity. [This year I made James a pair of paper shoes, and Tom made me a card with a picture of shirtless William Shatner wishing me Merry Christmas in Esperanto.] The other notable event was that my friend John handed me a cassette tape of Sylvia Plath reading her poems at Harvard and the BBC. This does not often happen at bars in Central Maine on New Year's Eve.

Now that I'm awake, sort of, I am imagining that I might go snowshoeing today, or build a snow beast, or maybe just lob snowballs at the cat, who loves a fake skirmish. The weather is warming, the sky streaked with sun and clouds. I will read my newest Margaret Atwood find (Lady Oracle) and play the Plath cassette (presuming that one of our cassette players still works).

Writing of the BBC recordings, Plath's daughter, Frieda Hughes, said:
In December 1962, my mother was asked by BBC radio to read some of her poems for a broadcast, and for this she wrote her own introductions. Her commentaries were dry and brief and she makes no mention of herself as a character in the poems. She might expose herself, but she did not need to point it out. I particularly like . . . "In this next poem, the speaker's horse is proceeding at a slow, cold walk down a hill of macadam to the stable at the bottom. It is December. It is foggy. In the fog there are sheep." . . . These introductions make me smile; they have to be the most understated commentaries for poems that are pared down to their sharpest points of imagery and delivered with tremendous skill.
For some reason I feel inordinately pleased to have these broadcasts on cassette tape. I'm sure they're available all over the Internet, but this way seems better, though I don't exactly know why. I don't even know for sure I'll be able to hear them. But still: I have the plastic rectangle, with Sylvia's voice right there, on the magnetic tape. I can even see the magnetic tape through the little round portholes. Holding the tape feels like holding a ghost in a bottle.

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