"With clarity and erudition, Ms. Gordon-Bramer illuminates how Plath's masterpiece Ariel reflects a clear and intentional alignment with the Tarot and the Qabalah's Tree of Life. With each poem, and the collection as a whole, Gordon-Bramer weaves the esoteric mysteries with historical interpretation in a fascinating scholarly analysis that is original, provocative, magical. Fixed Stars Govern a Life is an incantation of great resonance and power, and its publication will be a sensation."
-- Susan L. Woods, PhD, Emeritus Professor of Women's Studies, Eastern Illinois University
“Like her beloved Yeats, Sylvia Plath was drawn to numerous and often contradictory systems of belief and ways of knowing, including mystical and magical systems. Julia Gordon-Bramer, in her dazzling and meticulously researched book, shows us how Sylvia Plath may have drawn upon the images of the tarot to fuse and merge the many ways of knowing she was so profoundly inspired by—myth, science, current events, folklore, alchemy, literature, motherhood, art and other sources to create the poems in Ariel, one of the great literary achievement of the 20th century. In doing so, Julia Gordon-Bramer illuminates, expands on, and asks profound questions about the very nature of making and creating poems.”
– Catherine Bowman, winner of the Peregrine Smith Poetry Prize, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for Poetry, the Dobie Paisano Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, four Yaddo Fellowships, and author of The Plath Cabinet (2009, Four Way), and other collections.
"A wonderful exploration of Plath's Ariel poems in relation to myth, symbol, and the creative process."
– Kathleen Connors, author of Eye Rhymes: Sylvia Plath’s Art of the Visual (2007, Oxford University Press)
“Lucid and intriguing… what is valuable about Fixed Stars Govern a Life is that it is such a great source study with commentary on what Plath read, what was happening at the time of the poem, and more. "
– Carl Rollyson, author of American Isis: the Life and Art of Sylvia Plath (2013, St. Martin’s Press)
“An intriguing book that prompts the reader to look at Plath with fresh eyes. Fixed Stars Govern a Life aims to explore the poet's hidden side and as such it is a refreshingly welcome addition to Plath studies.”
- Andrew Wilson, author of Mad Girl’s Love Song
The Australian: "Julia Gordon-Bramer’s Fixed Stars Govern a Life is a vibrant, meticulous and idiosyncratic attempt at another kind of restitution."
DAWN News, Pakistan: "...an interesting, painstakingly researched, reading of the poems, relating them to a surprising spiritual source, which might persuade some of Plath’s devotees to look at the poems in a new light." http://www.dawn.com/news/1182354
BookEval [Interview with the author]: http://www.bookeval.com/blog/item/463-sylvia-plath-tarot-julia-gordon-bramer
The Plath Diaries: a PhD Blog: "...a staggering reinterpretation of Sylvia Plath..." http://linkis.com/blogspot.com/v1MFk
University of Missouri's LitMag [Interview with the author]: https://www.facebook.com/FixedStarsGovernALife/photos/pcb.585637958206668/585637894873341/?&theater
The following presentations were excerpted from Fixed Stars Govern A Life: Decoding Sylvia Plath:
Presentation to Lindenwood University, Belleville, IL, 2011: "Sylvia Plath's 'Daddy' as a tale of Freud, Brutus, Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' and more."
Presentation to Goodenough College, London, England, 2012 for the Lawrence Durrell Centenary: "Sylvia Plath's 'A Secret' as it corresponds to Lawrence Durrell's The Alexandria Quartet"
Presentation to the 2012 Sylvia Plath Symposium, University of Indiana-Bloomington: "Sylvia Plath's Ariel: The Feminine Arrow Into the Apocalypse"
Presentation to the Popular Culture Conference, Washington, DC, 2013: "Shattering the Room Full of Mirrors: Sylvia Plath's Poetic Recount of the Destruction of the Feminine Aspects in Men in her poem, 'The Courage of Shutting-Up."
Presentation to University of London, London, England, 2013 for the Sherlock Holmes Conference: "Sylvia Plath's 'The Detective': a tribute to Sherlock Holmes and the 'Whodunit"
Presentation to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for the 'Racial Formation, Racial Blindness' Conference, 2014: "Sylvia Plath's Hidden Civil Rights Messages"
Presentation for the Association for the Study of Esotericism, Fifth International Conference at Colgate University, New York, 2014: "Madness ...or Mystic? Sylvia Plath and the Occult Taboo"
Presentation for 'Evil Incarnate: Manifestations of Villains and Villainy' conference at Case-Western Reserve, Cleveland, OH, 2014: "Self-Villainy in Sylvia Plath's Poem, 'The Jailor."