October 27 ~  I Am Birthday Letters

"I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am." ~ Sylvia Plath

For a brief time in October, four months before her suicide, poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) would rise from sleep in the "still, blue, almost eternal hour" between 4 and 8 a.m., that time when darkness and silence blend to welcome the dawn. 

In this quiet time she wrote 11 poems in 17 days--amazing bursts of inspiration. She told her mother, "I am a genius of a writer. I have it in me. I am writing the best poems of my life; they will make my name."

She was right. Her poetry did make her name...posthumously. Plath left words written with brilliance and poignancy, capturing a vivid and fragile inner world. A tragic figure who was able to share the burning pain in her heart with others, she became a magnetic cultural phenomena with a cult following.

"That's where writing comes in," she wrote in her journal. "It is as necessary for the survival of my haunty sanity as bread is to my flesh."

An excellent student and perfectionist, Plath was born on this day in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. She married British poet Ted Hughes ("my magnificent handsome brilliant husband") in 1956 while in England on a Fulbright scholarship. With two small children, her marriage, along with her health, disintegrated in 1962.

Of it, Hughes said "What happens in the heart simply happens." Named poet laureate of England in 1984, he added,  "Maybe all poetry, insofar as it moves us and connects with us, is a revealing of something that the writer doesn't actually want to say, but desperately needs to communicate, to be delivered of." Plath's The Collected Poems, edited by Hughes, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1982.

"And by the way," Plath wrote in her journal, "everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

Please be gentle with yourself...