Sylvia Plath Reminds Me Of Azerbaijan

(and Ted Hughes, but to a lesser extent)

Sylvia Plath is a poet, for you uneducated oafs, and her destructive confessional poetry, that is based on a life of extreme self-pressure and conflict between personal literary expression and family commitments in the gender-restrictive world of the 1950s, can be summed up in the line ‘Dying is an art / like everything else I do it exceptionally well.’ Perhaps unsurprisingly, I really like her (even if she is a bit of a drama queen).

My anthology of her work, that I am using for the purposes of not crashing and burning in my A-Levels to the extent that I won’t get into my favourite university, is currently covered in red, black and green pens, so that it reminds me of the similarly-coloured flag of Azerbaijan.

This phenomenon isn’t totally restricted to my Plath anthology, as for years I have used these three colours as the backbone of all of my notes: black for writing, and red and green circling and underlining to add emphasis and highlight ideas; I do not use highlighters, as the difficulty of writing words with them means that you are discouraged from making further notes on anything you highlight – coloured pens are flexible, and can be easily used for both highlighting, and making notes on highlighted material, all with the same tool.

You’ll notice a lack of the primary colours blue and yellow in my note-making arsenal; in primary school, we moved from using blue handwriting pens in the infants, years Reception to Two, to black ones in the juniors, from years Three to Six, so I have formed a cognitive link between black ink and maturity; therefore, on attending secondary school and being given the choice between black and blue for my main writing colour, I went with the former, and almost rejected the existence of the latter for a number of years.

The lack of yellow is a more practical issue: it’s hard to see yellow words on white paper, especially with my hieroglyphic-style handwriting, which is about as easy to make sense of as the thirty-second Canto of Dante’s Purgatory (seriously, a dragon, a harlot and a giant show up in the Garden of Eden and the Chariot of the Sacrament becomes the ten-headed Beast of the Apocalypse for no apparent reason).

Admittedly, I have started using blue pens for emphasisory purposes, like the red and green: although the colours vary on a poem-to-poem basis, I will generally use black for analytical points, red for language analysis, green for links and context, and now blue for overlying messages of the poem, which can be particularly helpful given that my Coursework question is on broad themes, not specific bits of language.

Also, I’m not sure why I know the colours of the Azerbaijani flag, when I still get confused between the flags of more well-known nations such as Norway and Iceland. It might be the fact that I’m into cycling, where eastern countries such as Kazakhstan are doing well, but I can’t think of any Azerbaijani cyclists. I’m also not into politics, so any doom-and-gloom news from Azerbaijan (because the entire planet appears to have turned to crap in the last few years) will be totally over my head.

Maybe I’m looking too far into it, which is especially given that I know absolutely nothing about Azerbaijan; perhaps this is just another pointless association I’ll make in my lifetime, that has no meaning or relevance, other than to provide cheap blog-fodder on an otherwise uninspired day.

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14 thoughts on “Sylvia Plath Reminds Me Of Azerbaijan

      1. I’m knee deep in this essay I’m working on comparing his Crow to Dark Souls, if you like video games. His stuff his heavy in a masculine, cosmic way. I used to read him on the toilet when I had an enflamed colon (TMI, sorry) and I felt like he understood what I was going though haha…!

        But read Crow if you haven’t. I think it’s his most Ted Hughes collection.

        1. We’re doing Birthday Letters because it links most closely to Plath – out teacher pointed out that his comparisons of himself to a midwife aren’t very Hughesy.

          Also, I do like video games, but don’t know Dark Souls – I am impressed that you’re writing an essay comparing poetry to a game though.

          1. Hehe yeah, I have a grand delusion of one day being the Harold Rosenberg of video games…

            Poetry and games is a really great combination of, uh, hobbies. Most of my poetry has to do with games…

            Do you write poetry? Is it on your site? I’d be interested in looking at it!

            1. I’ve not written a poem since I won a poetry award when I was thirteen. I kinda stopped writing things of my own, and got into reviewing and discussing stuff others have written instead. Part of why I started blogging was to actually start writing my own damn stuff.

            2. Still in Sixth Form, which some people call college? I’ll be in my first year of Uni next year, if that helps.

              Also, I’ll probably stick any poetry I do on this blog, so you’ll hear about it that way.

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