Crystal Hurdle

Writer, Educator, Artist

After Ted & Sylvia


One of the greatest mad, sad literary love affairs of the twentieth century was that between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. In her collection of poems, Hurdle adapts her own research on their lives to explore the love and loss in this relationship of poetic collaboration and rivalry, which lasts, in Hurdle’s recreation, even after Plath’s suicide in 1963 and Hughes’ death in 1998. At points, the poet-narrator forms a literary ménage à trois with the two poets as she struggles obsessively to understand their own lives as individual artists and their love-torn relationship.

In the final sections, the envious poet-narrator loses her privileged place as the lover of both Ted and Sylvia. Other voices, including those of family members, a late night talk show host, a holocaust survivor, and literary critics, address Plath, whose poetry has now entered the wider public domain. For the reader, there is the great joy of finding familiar images from both Plath and Hughes, but images that echo with a new resonance:

The clock ticks.
Outside no star shines
And the thought-fox screams its abandonment
as it circles
three-legged and bloody
in the snow.

“Crystal Hurdle has spent years passionately searching for Sylvia Plath and rescuing her from the suppression and distortion of her life and works by others. Hurdle approaches Plath through many perspectives, several voices, and an array of moods. The result is a credible and deeply moving presentation of ‘the heart’s shivered core.’ This is a book to treasure and reread many times.”

Bill Schermbrucker

“In this book of linked poems, Crystal Hurdle channels the many voices that comprise the hardest, brightest stars in the constellation of Sylvia Plath’s life. This is an accomplished first book that combines scholarly and poetic responses to Sylvia Plath’s life and work.”

Sharon Thesen

Teacher's Pets


Thought provoking, sexy, edgy, and affecting, Teacher’s Pets explores what happens along the line that should not be crossed. Join a group of Venturers, a Wilderness Training school group, on their treks into the great outdoors of supernatural British Columbia and the mysteries of love and loss. Told in a series of free-verse poems from a lively crew of characters, interspersed with student assignments and the comments on them, discussions in and out of the classroom, journal entries, report cards, lists, and horoscopes, this book will engage both older teens and adults readers alike.

“Fearless and bold, Crystal Hurdle’s witty, multivocal novel in verse reads like a cross between Judy Blume and Into the Wild, with a dash of Gilbert and Sullivan thrown in.”

Cathy Stonehouse, author of Grace Shiver

“The collection reads like a play, resonates like poetry, and is as absorbing as a novel.”

Morgan Kelly, author of Midnight in Your Arms

“Unwavering and unsettling, these poems sometimes lift towards the lyrical, but just as often glory in the gutter. Always aware of the ambiguity, Hurdle creates a kind of music, wrung with care, from loves at once ordinary, but in their telling, something more.”

Anne Stone, author of Delible

“This poetry is a mash-up of Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita and and Peggy Atwood’s Journals of Susanna Moodie… Hurdle knows her stuff. Teacher’s Pets is a Grade A accomplishment.”

George Elliott Clarke, Chronicle-Herald

Sick Witch

(Available May 2020)

“I’m going to get you, my pretty!” The enigmatic Sick Witch lures the narrator on a metaphoric/literal vision quest through the hallucinatory terrain of undiagnosed and undiagnosable medical disorders in poems that playfully explore connections between physical and mental illness. Compelling “fever dreams” tackle disorders, from allergy to somnambulism, from retinal detachment to schizophrenia, from avian flu to ALS, beyond the insular country of the sickbed. Allusion becomes illusion in the blink of an eye, both in the sharp images and also with insight, revelation, confusion and fear, with a supposed control that advances then recedes then does it again and again. Here are tales both grim and Grimm, complemented by “lessons” from other patients, and leavened through a series of Letters to an Insurance Adjuster, who may or may not be a good wizard. Disquieting images from myth and pop culture compel the reader to join in the dance down the yellow brick road. X may mark the spot, but is it malignant? Or does it lead to Health?

"In the era of AIDS, SARS, now Corona virus, Sick Witch is by twist and turn a harrowing journey through multiple and chronic afflictions, at one moment sad, funny and deeply ironic. Interrupted only by acerbic responses to the ‘Oz’ of the health insurance bureaucracy, Hurdle’s vision is sweeping, nay ‘soaring’ in its use of familiar literary and Hollywood icons and narratives to bridge the narrator’s rich, inner landscape while conveying the daily experience of a body ill-adapted to our environment."

Moira MacDougall, Poetry Editor, Literary Review of Canada

"The wicked witch of The Wizard of Oz is central: she is sickness personified, a “ravaged queen” whose “green face sours into a kiss.” Like Susan Sontag in Illness as Metaphor, Hurdle shows illness to be another kingdom (or queendom) where one both is and is not oneself, a paranoid land of doppelgängers, squatters, and “evil sister twins.” But in moments of recovery, the wicked witch back in her crystal ball, the speaker finds herself again in a “benign,” “sweeter” world."

Hilary Clark, Two Heavens, More Light, The Dwelling of Weather

A preview of Sick Witch, coming soon.

Other Publications

See other published work by Crystal below.

  • from “Two Julys: Oxymorons.” The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature 18 (1992): 34.

  • “A Vision.” Canadian Literature 138/139 (1993): 71-72. (and accompanying interview)

  • “Aqua Velva.” Event 23.3 (1994/1995): 58-60.

  • “Enticescent.” Bogg: An Anglo-American Journal 67 (1995): 54.

  • “Secondhand Death: I/Bonnie.” Dandelion 32.1 (1996): 29.

  • “Olfactory: Sex Smells.” Fireweed 53 (1996): 58-60.

  • “Schizophrenic.” Canadian Literature 150 (1996): 84-85.

  • “Green Androgyny.” The Dalhousie Review 77.1 (1997): 110-111.

  • “Laureate I: Blooms” and “Portal: Seven Plus.” Whetstone 25.1 (1998): 12, 33-34.

  • “Sugar, Salt.” Fireweed 63 (1998): 15-18.

  • “Primary Colours.” Grain Magazine 27.2 (1999): 42-43.

  • “Doxology.” Canadian Literature 160 (1999): 14-15.

  • “ Sweetness.” Fireweed 66 (1999): 46-47.

  • “Tympanum.” The Capilano Review Series 2.28 (1999): 59-67.

  • “Arithmetic.” The Dalhousie Review 80.3 (2000): 416-417.

  • “To Taenia at 8 and ½ Months.” Canadian Literature 170/171 (2001): 191.

  • “Births & Deaths.” Room of One’s Own 23.4 (2001): 36-37.

  • “The Mother Speaks.” The Dalhousie Review 81.2 (2001): 293-294.

  • “Barbie and Ken.” The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature 38 (2002): 25-26.

  • "Sivvy Speaks: Hair," "The Sister-in-Law Speaks." Bogg: A Journal of Contemporary Writing 72 (2002): 23-24.

  • "Sivvy Speaks: Furlough in Las Vegas." The Capilano Review Series 2, No. 28 (2002): 19-24.

  • "Sivvy Speaks: Furlough in Klee." Event 31.3 (2002/2003): 52.

  • "Sivvy Speaks: Agenda," "Sivvy Speaks: Furlough in Rousseau I," "Sivvy Speaks: Furlough in Rousseau II." Windsor Review 36.1 (2003): 23-25.

  • "Second-hand Depression." Canadian Literature 176 (2003): 66.

  • "Milk." The Dalhousie Review 88. 3 (2003): 430-431.

  • "Leda's Poem: Prefatory Lecture notes for Teaching 'Leda and the Swan'." Other Voices: Journal of the Literary and Visual Arts 17.1 (2004): 17-19.

  • "The Body Code," "By the Light of," "Home." Room of One's Own 27.4 (2004): 80-82.

  • "Bipolar," "Affliction/Art." Transition Fall 2004: 81, 102.

  • "Sculptress." The Fiddlehead 222 (2004): 25.

  • "Body-Blinded by the Light: Xeroderma Pigmentosum," "Puns." The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature 44 (2005): 23, 24.

  • "Garden," "The Store," "Fish Flash." The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature 46 (2006): 12, 13, 14.

  • "Auxiliary Employee," "Nails." Room of One's Own 29.4 (2006): 73, 74.

  • "Pub[l]ic," "Soporific." Contemporary Verse 2 29.3 (2007): 84, 85.

  • "For Poets who Dream of...," "Safely Solipsized...," "Curb your Enthusiam," "Lolita's Apple Speaks," "Chess moves," “Specimen." The Capilano Review 3.1-2 (2007): 83-91.

  • "Blk, Wht, Read All Over." Omnibus Review of Blue Feast, by Shawna Lemay, Sooner by Margaret Christakos, This Way the Road, by Nina Berkhout. Canadian Literature 192 (2007): 171-173.

  • "The Somnambulist." Vallum 4:2/ 5:1 (2007): 26-28.

  • "Munchausen's by Proxy," "Growth," Hiring Committee." The Antigonish Review 150 (2007): 98-102.

  • "William and I Meet," "The Beginning?" The Prairie Journal: A Magazine of Canadian Literature 48 (2007): 12-13, 14.

  • "Swoop," "Reading While Sick." The Prairie Journal: A Magazine of Canadian Literature 49 (2007): 4, 5.

  • "Fever Dream: Brainwave." The Dalhousie Review 87.3 (2007): 382-383.

  • "Drains." Wascana Review 40.1 & 2 (2005): 68-69. copyright 2008.

  • "Tales of the Body." Transition. Spring 2009: 13.

  • "Snake Story: Yours, Mine, Ours." The Prairie Journal 52 (2009): 34-36.

  • "Fever Dream: Retinal Detachment." The Antigonish Review 161 (2010): 80.

  • "A Something of Crows." Omnibus review of The Lost Country of Sight, by Neil Aitken, Flutter, by Alice Burdick, the rush to here, by George Murray, Human Resources, by Rachel Zolf. Canadian Literature 204 (2010): 167-169.

  • “The Art of Work." Omnibus review of A Well-mannered Storm: the Glen Gould poems by Kate Braid, Kahlo: the World Split Open by Linda Frank, Paper Trail, by Arleen Pare, and The Office Tower Tales, by Alice Major. Canadian Literature 205 (2010): 136-138.

  • "Medical Experiment." The Toronto Quarterly Issue 6 (Sept. 2010): 76.

  • “Fever Dream: Sick in Suzhou.” The Prairie Journal: A Magazine of Canadian Literature 55 (2010-2011): 17.

  • “’Freedom of Chickens’ Manifesto.” The Capilano Review 3.13 (2011): 149-153.

  • “Comic Bildungsromans.” Omnibus review of Fishing for Bacon by Michael Davie, Stripmalling by John Paul Fiorento, and Lemon by Cordelia Strube. Canadian Literature 208 (2011): 151-153.

  • “Tropes of Time and Place.” Omnibus Review of Against the Hard Angle, by Matt Robinson, Track and Trace, by Zachariah Wells, Poems for the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names, by Soraya Peerbaye, and R’s Boat, by Lisa Robertson. Canadian Literature 208 (2011): 187-189.

  • “I watch Anne at the Egyptian Exhibit.” The Literary Review of Canada 19.8 (2011): 14.

  • “Perspective.” The Toronto Quarterly Issue 8 (2011): 86-87.

  • “Look Into my eyes.” Transition Fall 2011: 14.

  • “Wee Tea. “ The Literary Review of Canada 19. 9 (2011): 16.

  • “Community Spirit? Me?” English Teaching Professional 78 (20012): 50.

  • “Skip to my Lou,” “What a Woman Wants,” The Canals of Suzhou.” The Windsor Review 45.1 (2012): 123-128.

  • “I Help Anne Clear Out.” The Literary Review of Canada 20.4 (2012): 18.

  • “Poetry’s ‘Where is There?’” Omnibus Review of The Secret Signature of Things, by Eve Joseph, In the Millennium, by Barry McKinnon, Lost Gospels, by Lorri Neilsen Glenn, (made), by Cara Benson. Canadian Literature 212 (2012): 127 -128.

  • “The Step-Daughter Speaks,” “Lolita’s Bicycle Speaks,” “Humbert’s Gun Speaks.” Literary Review of Canada 20. 8 (2012): 19.

  • “Symbolism.” Write 40.2 (2012): 27.

  • Excerpts from “Weaning Love and Death.” Prairie Journal 58 (2012): 10-11.

  • Excerpts from “Ajar.” The Capilano Review 3.20 (2013): 142-143.

  • “Distaff Peter Pan.” CV2 36.1 (2013): 54-55.

  • “’To Hand out the Stars’: Jane Langton’s Fiction for Children.” Bookbird: A journal of International Children’s Literature 51.4 (2013): 79-82. .

  • “Allergic: White Spot.” The Literary Review of Canada Dec. 2013: 16.

  • “Shave the Milk Mustache.” Omnibus Review of One in Every Crowd: Stories, by Ivan E. Coyote, A Tinfoil Sky, by Cyndi Sand-Eveland, A Matter if Life and Death or Something, by Ben Stephenson. Canadian Literature 217 (2013): 146-148.

  • Omnibus poetry review of Under the Keel: poems, by Michael Crummey, The House on 14 th Avenue, by Michael Mirolla, Saviours in this Little Place for Now, by Stephanie McKenzie. Event 42.3 (2013/2014): 93-97.

  • “Lolita Speaks,” “Lolita’s Handmaids and Rosegirls,” “Twelve,” Teaching Lolita.” The New Orphic Review 17. 1 (2014): 79-86.

  • Excerpt from Ajar, “Out of the Cocoon.” Vallum 11.1 [2014, Thresholds]: 40, 54.

  • “Ms. Letitia Henry, English Teacher, Marks Candace Hunter’s Haiku.” The Literary Review of Canada 22.4 (May 2014): 15.

  • “Restoration,” “Blood Jet,” “Spawn,” “Sivvy to Ted: Furlough in DeChirico’s ‘The Disquieting Muses’,” “Gwyneth Plath: on ‘Sylvia,’ the film.” Plath Profiles 7 (2014): 4-11. pdf.

  • “The Blind Girl.” New Writing: The International Journal for the theory and Practice of Creative Writing. 31 July 2015. 4 pages. DOI: 1080/14790726.2015.1057162

  • “Feathering the Caw.” Omnibus poetry review of As if a Raven, by Yvonne Blumer, Thrum, by Natalie Simpson, and The White Crow, by Christine Smart. Canadian Literature 223 (Winter 2014) c. 2015: 126- 127.

  • “Buzz.” Vallum 12.2 (2015): 56-59.

  • “Anne’s Wedding Photo,” “Piracy.” The Dalhousie Review 95.2 (2015): 217-220.

  • Reviews of Joe Beernick’s Nowhere Wild, Patti Grayson’s Ghost Most Foul, Allison Van Diepen’s Light of Day, and Catherine Banner’s The Heart of War: The Last descendants Trilogy Book III, in Resource Links 21.1 (2015): 29, 35, 43, 28-29.

  • “The Gentleman Contractor in Vancouver.”The Literary Review of Canada 24.6 (2016): 17.

  • “Choose Your Ending.” Event 45.2 (2016): 49.

  • “The Personal is the Political.” Transverse Journal 15 (2016): 124-128. (and web)

  • “Space in [Ab]sence.” Omnibus poetry review of Juliane Okot bitetk’s 100 days, Nicole Marcotic’s whelmed, and Sheryda warrener’s floating is everything. Canadian Literature, 228/229, 2016, pp. 230 - 231.

  • “Sumption: Sivvy’s Food.” Plath Profiles, vol. 9, 2016, pp. 8-9. pdf.

  • “Bog People.” Vallum: Contemporary Poetry, vol. 14, issue 1, 2017 (?), pp. 27-29. and digital file.

  • “Veterinarian Dr. Bondo.” Vallum vol. 14, issue 2, 2017, pp. 27-28.

  • “Crow,” “Francis Bacon’s,” “The Blind Bird Watcher,” “Don’t Bend Over,” “Dornen,” “Fun and Games,” “What’s Left,” “Bindi,” “The Second coming,” “Intimates.” Ars Medica, vol. 13, issue 1 (2018), pp. 71 – 94.

  • “Amaryllis Bulb: Invocation.” The Dalhousie Review, vol. 98, issue 1 (2018), p. 124.

  • “Augury amidst Aftermath.” Omnibus poetry review of Rhonda Ganz’ Frequent, small loads of laundry, Clea Roberts’ Auguries, and Budge Wilson’s After Swissair. Canadian Literature, vol. 234, Autumn 2017, Eclectic Mix, pp. 151 – 153.

  • “Arraignment at a Kafkaesque University: a Calm and Deliberative Rant?” Transverse issue 17 [2018] , pp. 115-119.

  • “moody blues.” The Literary Review of Canada, Oct. 2018, p. 12.

  • “Blessing [in] Darkness.” Omnibus poetry review of Heidi Greco’s Flightpaths, Pamela Porter’s Defending Darkness, and Jan Zwicky’s The Long Walk, Canadian Literature, vol. 235, Winter 2017, Concepts of Vancouver: Poetics, Art, Media, pp. 149 – 150.

  • “Cornering the Sivvy Real Estate Market.” Plath Profiles, volume 10, issue 1 (Spring 2019), pp. 22-27.

  • “alt [sic.].” Formes Poetiques Contemporaines [L’Effacement], vol. 14, Presses Universitaires De Liege, 2019, pp. 161 -163.

  • “Elderproofing.” Grain: the Journal of Eclectic Writing, vol. 46, number 4, summer 2019, pp. 30 – 31.

  • “The Cooking Calculus of Sylvia Plath.” Plath Profiles, volume 11, issue 1 (Summer 2019), pp. 168-170.

  • “Conjoined Twins,” “Cottonwood Crow comet,” The Dalhousie Review, Spring 2019, vol. 99, issue 1, 2019, pp. 93-95.
  • "Distaff Servitor." Arms Like Ladders: The Eloquent She. Ed. Katerina Fretwell. N. P.: The Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets, 2007. 60.

  • "Tied with Black Grosgrain Ribbon: Letters to the Insurance Adjuster." Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness + Recovery. Ed. Janis Harper. Vancouver, BC: Anvil Press, 2007. 146-152.

  • "Little Old Lady Deconstructed," "The Little Old Ladies: a Chorus." Silver Boomers: A Collection of Prose and Poetry by and About Baby Boomers. Eds. Ginny Greene, et al. Abilene, Texas: Silver Boomer Books, 2008. 116-117, 155.

  • "Births and Deaths." Honoring Motherhood: Prayers, Ceremonies & Blessings. Ed. Lynn L. Caruso. Woodstock, Vermont: Skylight Paths Publishing, 2008. 160-161.

  • “Epiphany--Lure of the Greasy Forelock.” Epiphanies: moments in your writing life that change you forever. Ed. Anne Burke. Living Archives of the Feminist Caucus of the League of Canadian Poets. 2011. Toronto: League of Canadian Poets, 2012. 40.

  • “Elegy.” The Dialogue Continues: Tales from the Making of Capilano College. 2nd ed. Eds. Bill Schermbrucker and Crawford Kilian. North Vancouver: Capilano University Faculty Association, 2014. 288-290.

  • From “Ajar.” Make It True: Poetry from Cascadia. Ed. Paul Nelson, et al. Lantzville, BC: Leaf Press, 2015. 136-137.

  • “Sivvy: Furlough in Rousseau I,” “Sivvy: Furlough in Rousseau II,” “Sivvy: Furlough in DeChirico.” Like a Fat Gold Watch: Meditations on Sylvia Plath and Living, edited by Christine Hamm, Fat Gold Watch Press, 2017, pp. 14-17.

  • “Letters to the Insurance Adjuster.” Another Dysfunctional Cancer Poem Anthology, edited by Priscila Uppal and Meaghan Strimas. Mansfield P, 2018, pp. 186-190.

  • *Work is forthcoming in Bogg, Canadian Literature, Write, and The Menstrual: Radical Feminist Literary Magazine.
  • "Dear Insect," "Jim Morrison is Not Here." Pooka Press' Poetry Postcard Series. Dec. 2005.

  • "Going, Going, Gone." Pooka Press' Photobooth Series. June 2006.

  • from "Ajar." Rubicon Press. Broadside Series 2008/09, #1.