Lumb Bank, Sylvia Plath

by Feng

Sylvia Plath was my first love.  And yesterday, I realized again how detached I am from my own life, because though I spent two weeks in Yorkshire in Ted Hughes’ old house, I never knew it belonged to him, or that Sylvia Plath lived there, or that her grave was close by. How the information got past me, I don’t know. Probably because my oblivion-obsessed and aloof 16 year old self did not take the time to research the history of the Arvon Foundation and the house, and I probably just wasn’t paying attention or I plain forgot because I was in shock at being in a foreign country by myself. When I returned, in my memories I just assumed it was some old house that belonged to the family hosting us. Gah.

Anyway, it is thanks to Judith Huang, who was a co-winner of the Foyle Young poet’s prize that year (2003-4), that I now know.  (I am Mary Chen on that page). We were both invited to the course that took place in Lumb Bank, the famous Hughes house, in February of 2004.

Judith and I met up yesterday after 6 years apart. She is traveling all over the states after graduating from Harvard for an artistic project called The Boat, and she has cousins living here in Madison. Facebook made it easy for us to reconnect, and suddenly she was on my doorstep! We got along as wonderfully as we did when we first met. Of course it got me thinking about the experience, and everyone there, and taking walks along the hills. The food was amazing, which was unexpected, given that we were in England. We cooked in teams everyday, and always had bread pudding. Helen Mort, one of the students there, is now quite established as an English poet.

I wish I could better remember my time there, now that new information has added a retroactive halo of significance to the place…