What would have happened if Sylvia Plath had somehow staved off her terminal depression and hung on for a few more years instead of sticking her head in an oven and killing herself in February 1963? At the time of her death, during an unusually bitter winter, the troubled Boston poet was raising two young children by herself in London, far from her family and friends, while separated from her unfaithful husband, Ted Hughes. Although Hughes was still the more critically recognized and popular writer, Plath was in the middle of conjuring the astonishing series of poems that ended up in her classic final collection, Ariel, where she shucked off the puritanical formalism of her early work in the 1950s in favor of a searing, balefully unsentimental style and perspective that revolutionized the art form. Would Plath have been comforted to realize that she wasn't alone, that she was part of a repressed, McCarthy-shadowed generation that was ready to burst with creative expression during the Summer of Love? If she'd met, say, Jimi Hendrix or Syd Barrett or Paul McCartney, would her life have been saved by rock & roll? We'll never know, but plenty of rockers, from Peter Laughner to Ryan Adams, have sung passionate odes in her honor. The insightful and indefatigable local poet Carlye Archibeque (who once eloquently advised, "Find your true love among/the poor but noble street hustlers") hosts a wide-ranging discussion tonight, Lectures From Beyond: Sylvia Plath, where she'll attempt to separate Plath's brilliant writing from the drama and controversy that still surround her death. Beyond Baroque, 681 Venice Blvd.; Fri., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.; $7, $5 students & seniors. (310) 822-3006, beyondbaroque.org.
Fri., Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m., 2012