The Plath Cabinet.

One of the things I’m going to miss when the store finally closes is the vast array of catalogs I receive, the plugged-in aspect of being a book buyer. I love knowing what’s coming out next season, who has new books and when.

But there’s frustration there, too. Today I received the University Press of New England’s spring 2009 catalog. They also distribute for Four Way Books, among others, and I was jazzed to see a new book of poems by Catherine Bowman being published by them in April, The Plath Cabinet. More on that, but what’s frustrating is that I wanted to include here a picture of what I consider a great cover, but neither the UPNE nor the Four Way Books websites include the spring 2009 list yet. Why? Is it a conscious choice not to highlight books so far ahead of time so as not to take away from the more immediate or current frontlist? Because I can’t imagine that it’s so difficult to transfer from print catalog to website.
Illustration from "The Writer's Brush"Sylvia Plath. Self-portrait 1951. Pastel. 24 x 18 inches. Courtesy of the Lilly Library.

To get back to the book: like many women poets, I’ve long been a fan of Plath, especially as I grew older and read deeper into the poetry itself. Then I became a mother, and the realization that she wrote these amazing poems in the midst of caring for her young children just knocked me out, and still does. Her drive, her work ethic, her ambition, her genius — and the flip side — her biography both inspires and saddens me. But the poems, the poems move me.

So I’m looking forward to Catherine Bowman’s The Plath Cabinet. The copy from the catalog:

Part homage, part exploration, The Plath Cabinet offers a new window onto Sylvia Plath’s world, from her hand-made dolls and her passport to a preserved lock of her hair. The Plath Cabinet is not simply an unparalleled biography: it is a memoir in poems, telling the story of Bowman’s relationship to Plath and to poetry. The Plath Cabinet is a must-read for Plath-lovers, for anyone interested in memoir and biography, and for all readers of contemporary poetry.

“This exuberant, tragic, sensuous book, with its fecund richness of forms and word-play, fulfills the promise; it does Plath and her influence proud.”

–Annie Finch

“Bowman builds a repository of treasures or a museum of precious artifacts, but more: by keeping counsel with her dangerous muse, she challenges us to rethink the cabinet in which we have canonized women poets.”

–Susan Gubar

And, like I said, it has a really nifty cover, but apparently you’ll have to take my word for it, for now.

2 responses to “The Plath Cabinet.”

  1. Sometimes the cover in the catalog is not the final cover. Covers are analyzed to death by publishers. Most of the time they’re bad too.

  2. Yes, that’s true, Roland, but this very seldom happens for poetry books; whatever angst that is experienced before & after the catalog appears, those covers don’t generally change.

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