Angela Readman: Sylvia and Me


Readman recalls her early love of Sylvia Plath @ Friction.

I don’t talk about Sylvia in company, Plath that is. Don’t think we’re quite on a first name basis, though I first met her at sixteen.

There were four of us, sat on low chairs behind a bookcase. This was after hours stuff. A teacher, so glad we were interested in hearing more poetry than we had to, took out a tape player and Daddied us. There were echoes in the corridors beyond the closed door, someone shouted ‘Wanker’; no one turned round. It was May, but the hairs stood up on the back of my arms. A woman’s voice read Daddy. I’d never been so scared. So, this was poetry? Shit.

I didn’t tell anyone about, you know, the poetry. I smuggled a book into the ripped lining of my bag the way some hide cigarettes or 20/20 from their parents. ‘What’s that you got there? Let me smell your breath? Have you been poeming again?’ I was a user. I underlined single words and stared at them till they meant twenty things. On a good day, I admitted to partaking in the odd bit of McGough or something. Plath was different, not the sort of poems I could quit whenever I want.

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