Hey book-lovers, there’s a new book box service in town — one that will totally step up your reading game, and take that author obsession of yours to a whole new level. It’s called ODE Box, and believe me: these book boxes go where no book box has quite gone before. Handcrafted by the husband-and-wife duo behind Hearth & Hammer (you may have sniffed out their literary candle line before,) Ariane Scholl and Andy Kenney, the concept of each goody-filled ODE Box is to create a one-of-a-kind, exclusive experience that celebrates a specific author. Check it out.
Launched on April 1, just in time to kick off National Poetry Month, ODE Box’s first book box is inspired by poet and novelist Sylvia Plath — you know, that gal who gave us The Bell Jar and a whole slew of beautifully raging feminist poetry. Just opening the box will transport readers into the dark, brooding mind of Plath — offering not just a literary experience, but one designed to cultivate the very essence of Plath and her work. And using their inaugural book box to celebrate the infamous writer was a choice that Scholl, the mastermind behind ODE Box, put a lot of thought (and, of course, reading) into.
“I started brainstorming the idea of a book box that was an ode to a writer or poet,” says Scholl. “I knew I wanted to focus on a female writer and one of my favorites came to mind: Sylvia Plath. The idea grew into what became ODE box.”
“I started to build the box around this idea of sadness, darkness, times of day, night, the moon, all of the imagery that is present in Sylvia Plath's poems,” Scholl explains. “I really wanted to focus on more than just the things people often say about Sylvia Plath. We know she suffered from depression, that she was neurotic, that she killed herself by sticking her head in the oven — all that is old news and can overshadow a lot of the beauty in her work. What I see in her work is a darkness, but also a balance of lightness and hope. By reading her journals, you begin to understand the energy and zest she really threw into her life. She was constantly striving to be happy, striving to be a known and successful poet. She looked at the world differently than most people and this can be seen through her imagery — the strong ties to nature, the moon, light and shadow.”
The Sylvia Plath ODE Box includes gorgeous, one-of-a-kind finds like a Sylvia Plath Portrait by artist Melinda Hagman; a bar of La Nuit Shea Butter Soap from Formulary 55; an enamel pin featuring the Plath quote: “Something Beautiful, but Annihilating” by Etsy vendor The Silver Spider; Hearth & Hammer’s own black beeswax tapers (the scent: Mad Girl’s Love Song, inspired by Plath’s poem of the same name in The Bell Jar, and made for and sold exclusively in the ODE Box); and a lettering print of Plath’s quote: “I rise... and eat men like air."
But, wait… a Sylvia Plath-inspired book box without an actual Sylvia Plath title inside? What’s up with that? Scholl explains: “My initial idea was to include Plath’s Unabridged Journals in the box, but then I realized that the person who is going to buy this box — someone who loves Sylvia Plath — will likely already have many of her books, and possibly even the book we’d include, so my idea expanded. I decided to include a contemporary female poet from a small press.”
That poet is Sophie Klahr, and her poetry collection Meet Me Here at Dawn, was published by YesYes Books last October. Scholl says it’s the perfect book — one that will not only invoke all kinds of Plath-y vibes, but that also complements the other items included in ODE Box. “It's really beautiful and vulnerable, dark and tinged with sadness,” says Scholl of Meet Me Here at Dawn. “I won't say Klahr writes like Sylvia Plath, but I will say she has a penchant for sadness and great nature metaphors. She plays with ideas of light and shadow in an entirely different way. In some ways, it's as if Sophie is a modern-day Sylvia. There's the same melancholy and nostalgia present in Sophie's work and that's the thread that weaves the two women together, but from there it's an offshoot, a different branch of the same tree altogether.” The copies of Meet Me Here at Dawn included in ODE Box will be signed by Klahr as well.
“The ODE Box will be different in this way than traditional book boxes, because it's really more of a literary boutique or gift box. The idea is to build items around a specific writer in order to allow the reader to immerse themselves in the experience of that writer, or to expand their understanding of the writer, in the instance of supplying a book from an indie writer that complements the writer well,” Scholl says.
Another way ODE Box distinguishes itself from other book boxes is by letting readers explore the contents before purchasing. Scholl says it’s important that anyone purchasing their boxes will enjoy the featured writer, and so previews of each box will be available on Hearth & Hammer’s website. The company also plans to support indies and female artists, buy local, and purchase books directly from their authors whenever possible.
“It's my intention that ODE box only support small presses, indie writers, and independent artisans and makers. When possible, I would like to buy the books directly from the writers and when that is not possible, I will be working with small presses,” explains Scholl. “For the ODE to Sylvia Plath, I was very purposeful about creating a box for a woman poet. I was able to source all of the products from other women artisans, which is super important to me as well. When I can, I always like to support other women, but my main requirement is that I am ordering from independent makers.”
While Plath’s ODE Box is limited to a 30-box run, (so be sure to scoop yours up ASAP) Hearth & Hammer has plenty of ideas for future boxes. “Other writers I'm thinking of making an ODE to include Ernest Hemingway, Willa Cather, and J.D. Salinger,” says Scholl. “The hyper-masculinity of Hemingway seems like a fun thing to toy around with.”
The Sylvia Plath ODE Box sells for $92.00. To order the box, and to learn more, head over to Hearth & Hammer’s website.