I’m a freelance journalist and published poet, based in Manchester.
My debut poetry pamphlet is available at www.wildpressedbooks.com/david-keyworth.html
Published October 25th 2020
An American in Paris
DJ and author Dave Haslam launched his new book - My Second Home: Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 - via an online event in association with @girlgangmcr.
Haslam, a veteran of the Hacienda, including playing on its final night, said that he first became interested in Plath's poetry when studying her second collection Ariel (1965) at school. "It spoke very deeply, immediately and viscerally to me," he said. He added that his first trip abroad was to Paris, on a ferry.
Explaining why he had decided to focus on Plath's visit to the city, Haslam said: "Paris gives her space to process chaos in her head" and there were moments when Plath's "self-doubt seemed to fade away" and she "felt elated."
It was a time of flux in Plath's romantic life – Haslam spoke of how Plath split up with boyfriend Richard Sassoon, despite her attempts to rekindle the relationship. She had other romantic opportunities but decided to commit herself to Ted Hughes. The two poets and Cambridge University students were married in June 1956.
Miranda Sawyer (BBC Culture Show, Observer journalist) interviewed Dave Haslam down the Zoom-line. She alluded to an intriguing remark, where Jen O'Neill, Editor of She Kicks magazine and website, commented - on Miranda Sawyer's Twitter Page - that her Uncle insists he lost his virginity to Sylvia Plath in Paris, after meeting her in a shop. A combination of good grace and a lack of time meant that this claim was not examined further.
Sylvia Plath (1932–1963) in July 1961 at her Chalcot Square flat in London. By Giovanni Giovannetti/Grazia Neri - flickr.com/photos/synaes/5110600085, Public Domain, commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=42716377
After, putting her own questions, Sawyer read out questions which had been put by members of the online audience. One school pupil asked for advice about a school play she was working on about Sylvia Plath. Dave Haslam advised her to find her own version of Plath, of which there had been several versions in biographies, and to "take control of the narrative."
Another questioner asked: What band do you think Sylvia would play in today? Dave Haslam pointed out that Plath was not a noted fan of modern music. She was "un-rock'n'roll" and complained about the loudness of the jazz band at the Cambridge party where she met Ted Hughes. He did, however, speculate, prompted by Miranda Sawyer, that Plath could perhaps "play maracas with PJ Harvey." Joy Division and Patti Smith were also mentioned, as artists who might have suited Plath's style.
The discussion was interspersed with readings of three Plath poems. Actress Victoria Brazier read November Graveyard, Mad Girl's Love Song and Lady Lazarus. For the last reading, Brazier respectfully but precisely impersonated Plath's Bostonian tones (her first published poem was in the Boston Traveller) and crisp-clear speaking style.
My Second Home: Sylvia Plath in Paris, 1956 is the fourth of Dave Haslam's 'Art Decades' series of small format limited edition books. The cover - designed by Zoë Lauren McLean - is the colour of Revlon's Cherries in The Snow - Sylvia Plath's favourite lipstick.
The previous three books in the series cover vinyl collecting, Keith Haring's New York Nightlife, and the tale of Courtney Love's extended stay in Liverpool in 1982.