February 20, 2010

Sylvia Plath Bake-Off

For a number of years, a few years back, Cheryl A. Rice, held a combination poetry reading & baking contest in February around the anniversary of the death of Sylvia Plath (Feb. 11, 1963). Cakes shaped like an oven door were de rigueur & one poet event showed up with his/her head in a cardboard box done up like an oven. And I would always read my poem, "Sylvia Plath Slept Here." A combination of reverence, irreverence & fun. At one point Pillsbury sent Cheryl a threatening letter saying they owned the term "bake-off." Most of us counseled that she should ignore the letter, you can't pay for publicity like that. She did but ended the annual event later for the usual reasons such things fade away: lack of time, energy, venue, etc.

This year I attended a private party at the home of Jacqueline Ahl with this same title, a handful of people in the little house way out in the country. There were cookies decorated like Sylvia or Ted Hughes, sometimes scribed with a line from her poems. Jacqueline has a small collection of some rare Plath ephemera. She read Plath's "The Applicant" & Tad Richard's "Sylvia & Dean," as well as Tad's hilarious "Nicaraqua, Whales and Body Parts." Christopher Wheeling also read a few of his poems & I read once again "Sylvia Plath Slept Here."

Cheryl told me later she was OK with someone else using "Sylvia Plath Bake-Off," but then she doesn't have the legal staff at her disposal that Pillsbury & Co. has. Read a poem, eat a cookie.

1 comment:

Amy Boland said...

Oh, but this is brilliant.

I found your post by googling Sylvia Plath Bake-off. Someone told me about the bake-off as I've just posted a blog entry about Fallen Caesar cookies for the Ides of March. That's a little tradition of my own, in the same vein. (So to speak.)

I'm sorry I missed the opportunity to observe SP's deathday. Maybe next year I will!