Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

Sylvia Plath Bio and Quotes

Sylvia Plath with typewriterSylvia Plath was born on October 27, 1932 in Boston. Her father was a professor of biology and a leading expert on bumblebees. He died after a lingering illness and left the family penniless. Her mother returned to work as a teacher after his death.

While Plath was in college her first short story, “Sunday at the Mintons” was published in Mademoiselle. She worked during the summer as a guest managing editor at the magazine. “After the job ended, she suffered a nervous breakdown, tried to commit suicide, and was hospitalized. She returned to school to finish her senior year, won a Fulbright to England and went to Cambridge after graduation where she met poet Ted Hughes in February 1956. They married four months later.” They had a son, Nicholas in 1962.

In 1962, Plath found out her husband was having an affair. He moved in with his new love, leaving Plath struggling against her emotional turmoil and depression. She moved to London and that winter wrote dozens of her best poems. Her only novel, The Bell Jar was was semi-autobiographical about a college girl who works at a New York magazine and has a breakdown. The novel received mediocre reviews in 1963.

At age 30, in February 1963, Plath committed suicide while in a severe case of depression.She died of carbon monoxide poisoning from putting her head in the oven.

Her Collected Poems won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize  for poetry, posthumously. “It was Hughes’ publication of Ariel in 1965 that precipitated Plath’s rise to fame. As soon as it was published critics began to see the collection as the charting of Plath’s increasing desperation or death wish. Her dramatic death became her most famous aspect, and remains so.Time and Life both reviewed the slim volume of Ariel in the wake of her death. The critic at Time said: “Within a week of her death, intellectual London was hunched over copies of a strange and terrible poem she had written during her last sick slide toward suicide. ‘Daddy’ was its title; its subject was her morbid love-hatred of her father. Plath’s poem Morning Song from Ariel is regarded as one of the best poems in the world on freedom of expression of an artist.”

On March 16, 2009, Nicholas Hughes, the son of Plath and Hughes, hanged himself at his home in Alaska, following a history of depression.

Information from www.history.com  and Wikipedia.org.


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Where Did Maya Angelou like to work?

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelo did very little of her writing at home. She said that the comfort of her house was too distracting. “Angelou elected to write in the anonymous tranquility of what she described as “tiny, mean” hotel rooms. She typically rented the rooms for months at a time, and arrived early in the morning armed with only her writing materials and a Bible, a bottle of sherry and a deck of cards (which she claimed helped busy her “little mind”). Angelou ensured that the rooms were as spare as possible to sharpen her focus, and she often wrote while reclining on her side on the hotel bed. In an interview with the “Paris Review,” she confessed that one of her elbows was “rough with callouses” from lying on it for long hours each day.” (information from History.com.)

Angelou said, “When I’m writing, I am trying to find out who I am, who we are, what we’re capable of, how we feel, how we lose and stand up, and go on from darkness into darkness.”

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

She was born on April 4th, 1928 and died on May 28, 2014.

John Keats, English Romatic Poet

John Keats male female who mostKeats head shotJohn Keats memoryJohn Keats die for loveJohn Keats BD to Death

“I have met with women who I really think would like to be married to a poem, and to be given away by a novel.”

“I wish to believe in immortality — I wish to live with you forever.”

“There is a budding tomorrow in midnight.”

“The air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy.”

“The poetry of the Earth is never dead.”

John Keats was the eldest of five children born to a lower-middle class family in London. When his father fell off a horse and died, he left a large inheritance which John didn’t receive. His mother remarried, but the five children were sent to live with her parents. She joined them when the marriage failed. She died in 1810 and her parents died in 1814. Keats and his siblings didn’t receive their inheritance due to a dishonest guardian. John apprenticed with a surgeon in 1811 until 1814. While working in a London hospital as a junior apothecary and surgeon in charge of dressing wounds, he met Leigh Hunt, a poet and author and became friends with Percy Bysshe Shelley. They encouraged him to write poetry and he was 18 when he wrote his first poem. His first book, Poems, appeared in 1817.

The next year, his health began to fail, his financial difficulties got worse, his brother Tom battled tuberculosis, and the other brother was left penniless from a poor investment. John’s fiancee, Fanny Brawne, brought him happiness in spite of all the family troubles. In 1819, John wrote brilliant work, including, “Ode on a Grecian Urn,”  and “Ode to a Nightingale.”

In 1820, John’s tuberculosis became worse. He moved to Italy for the warm climate to ease his condition but he died there in February 1821 at 25 years old. An English Romantic poet left us too soon.  (Information from www.history.com.)

Stephen Dobyn’s Poetry

Stephen Dobyns quote moving aroundI read a poem by Stephen Dobyns, I’m not sure where, but I knew I wanted to more about his process so I purchased next word, better word  the craft of writing poetry.

At random, I opened the book to page 92 and liked what Dobyns says, “The poet keeps our interest by using a multitude of surprises in form and content. To say something that the reader hasn’t thought of constitutes a surprise, and to say something that the reader knows but in a new way can also be a surprise. Anything unexpected functions as a surprise–an idea, a word, a sound, a line break, and so on…But once the surprise has occurred, the reader tries to fit it into the whole. Does the surprise exist to heighten and expand our sense of the entire poem, or is it used for its own sake as a rhetorical device to give false energy to one part of the poem?…Right away the reader will try to determine the reason for this surprise..If no reason is forthcoming, the poet’s credibility is in jeopardy.”

Dobyns book is easy to understand and it’s inspiring.

Stephen Dobyns poet

stephen dobyns next word, better word


Mary Mackey Poet and Novelist

Mary Mackey book TravelersThe Women’s National Book Association had our board meeting on Sunday at poet and novelist Mary Mackey’s home. Wikipedia has this to say about Mackey:

Mary Mackey is an American novelist, poet, and academic. She is the author of seven collections of poetry and thirteen novels, including the New York Times best-seller A Grand Passion and The Year The Horses Came, The Horses At The Gate, and The Fires of Spring, three sweeping historical novels that take as their subject the earth-centered, Goddess-worshiping cultures of Neolithic Europe. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mackey

Mary received her BA from Harvard and a PhD from the University of Michigan. She’s been a professor of English since 1972. The following poem is from Travelers With No Ticket Home (Marsh Hawk Press 2014) ©Mary Mackey, 

Walking toward the Largo do Machado

when the smell of jasmine
flows through the streets of Catete like a warm fog
when the scent is so liquid you can
breathe it in get drunk and stagger
I think of all the years I have loved you
and all the years I will go on loving you
I think of how we protect each other from pain and betrayal
how each night we wrap ourselves around each other
and peace floats above our bed like a canopy of white petals

The description on Amazon: In this stunning new collection, Mackey offers her readers fifty-eight intensely lyrical poems written with the same skill and passion that made her previous collection Sugar Zone winner of the 2012 PEN Oakland Josephine Miles Award. Complex yet entirely accessible, the poems in Travelers With No Ticket Home form a visionary meditation on nature, childhood, the destruction of the rain forest of the Amazon, and the real and psychological landscape of travel. Taking us from a small farm in Western Kentucky to the jungles of Brazil, Mackey touches on the broader human feelings of wonder, displacement, grief, love, and love’s endless complications. Here too, for the first time, readers will find Mackey’s complete Karma Sutra of Kindness, a series of seven love poems written over the last thirty years.

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Mary Mackey

WNBA members at Mary Mackey's house for a meeting.

WNBA members at Mary Mackey’s house for a meeting.