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JOY DEVOTION SPOTLIGHT: The talented, insanely smart and gorgeous to boot GAIL CROWTHER
July 11, 2016
So I actually met Gail by stalking her. I am a HUGE Sylvia Plath fan, and Gail is a world-respected Plath scholar. I had read several things she had written about the fabulous poet, and got in touch just to say what a fan I was of both lovely women. Since then, Gail has become a dear friend, confidante and a collaborator. I was THRILLED when she agreed to write a piece for Joy Devotion: The Importance of Ian Curtis and Fan Culture. Gail's newest book, The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath is out August 25th, so mark the calendar and scoop it up!
Joy Division captures a particular moment and place for me. I was born and raised in the North of England and it was just a little bit dazzling to be confronted with an explosion of Curtis’s poetic lyrics. I found him to be a charismatic front man and the music hypnotic. So Joy Division reminds me of my early forays into music, looking for meaning and some sort of understanding at a time when I thought those things were still possible.
- Why are they still cultural provocateurs 30 plus years on?
I think like any long-lasting song or poem or piece of art, there is something universal about their music and timeless about their lyrics. It was such a fresh sound and it was a time when working class northerners seemed to be tapping into a poetic streak – Curtis, Morrissey et al. They captured something about living in those streets, having the sort of relationships they did (or did not have), stuff about loneliness and isolation – the big universal themes that still resonate today because I guess they will always resonate. Equally, they had really striking artwork on their covers which is instantly recognisable even 30 years later.
- Favorite JD song and why?
Love Will Tear Us Apart. I think this song perfectly sums up the disintegration of love and is surely a soundtrack for anyone who has ever been stuck in a shitty relationship. I think the power of this song goes beyond those lyrics and chords in a way – it captures a real state of mind and it is a song that has spawned some fantastic cover versions (June Tabor and the Oysterband being one of my favourites). But it is also a feeling or an expression that has seeped into peoples’ consciousness. I wasn’t surprised when I was wandering around some old mine ruins on a foggy day in Cornwall to stumble across the graffiti below:
Dr Gail Crowther is a writer, researcher and academic. She specialises in Sylvia Plath studies, feminist life writing, and sociological hauntings. She is co-author of Sylvia Plath in Devon: A Year’s Turning. Her new book The Haunted Reader and Sylvia Plath is an exploration of why Plath has attracted such a devoted readership. A co-authored book about Plath’s archives will be released next year. Gail can be found on twitter @gail_crowther and she has a website at www.gailcrowther.com