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IU Northwest Professor William Buckley to present memoir of Sylvia Plath at symposium, Oct. 24 – 27

IU to celebrate 50th anniversary of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel collection

Tuesday Oct 09, 2012


While Smith College in Northampton, Mass. may have the bench that famed poet Sylvia Plath often frequented as an undergraduate in the mid-1950s, it is Indiana University that will capture her spirit this October as it hosts a symposium to commemorate the 50th anniversary of her Ariel collection and its “October” poems.

Thousands of people from around the world will gather at the Bloomington campus on October 24-27 for the Sylvia Plath Symposium to share memoirs, present essays, screen films, read original poetry, and display artwork inspired by Plath, who is recognized as perhaps the greatest American female poet of the 20th century. 

A highlight of the symposium will be a presentation by IU Northwest Professor of English William Buckley, Ph.D., founder and editor of “Plath Profiles.”  The symposium presents an opportunity for Buckley to step outside the role of editor and present a personal memoir reflecting on the impact Plath has had on his life, and discussing how and why he established the annual literary journal.

First published at age 8, Plath was a driven genius whose poetry portrayed a complicated and tragic woman struggling with manic depression while later juggling the responsibilities of wife, mother and writer.  The gravity of her despair would soon lead to her suicide at the young age of 30, leaving behind two children.  Today, Plath’s fans celebrate her work, despite her tragedy, through films, books and essays. 

“More than any other female writer I can think of in American poetry,” Buckley said, “Plath attacks our ideals of love, motherhood, marriage, politics, and religion.” 

Established in 2007 and published annually, “Plath Profiles” strives to be the intermediary for Plath discourse and study.  While IU’s Lilly Library houses the largest collection of Plath materials, followed by the collection at her alma mater Smith College, “Plath Profiles” remains the only journal and the singular most contemporary collection of essays, prose, artwork, and photography by academics and students worldwide.  

Buckley and journal webmaster Peter Steinberg, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, have successfully published five volumes of “Plath Profiles,” which receives thousands of hits each month and has received submissions by Plath devotees from India, Romania and Portugal, just to name a few of the many nations represented. 

What is next for Professor Buckley?

Buckley will retire this December after 30 years of academic service.  However, he plans to take an office in the John W. Anderson Library Conference Center on the IU Northwest campus to complete work on “Plath Profiles” Vol. 6 before passing it on to a yet unnamed editor.  

Buckley is also currently editing a collection of essays written by Plath experts from the United States and the United Kingdom for use by high school students and undergraduates. It is scheduled for publication in 2013 by Salem Press.

Registration and program information can be found at Symposium 2012.

Information about submissions for consideration in “Plath Profiles” Vol. 6 can be found here.

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