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Ted Hughes on how to write poetry
on 25 November 2011
Somewhere, perhaps in the dark and dusty storerooms of the BBC, there is a tape of this Ted Hughes' programme in the "Listening and Writing" series, because each chapter of this book was a programme. Made for Miss Moira Doolan of the BBC Schools Broadcasting Department, it was an excellent series of programmes in which Hughes read his (and other) poetry while giving hints on how to write and insights into how he wites.
"There are all sorts of ways of capturing animals and birds and fish. I spent most of my time, up to the age of fifteen or so, trying out many of these ways and when my enthusiasm began to wane, as it did gradually, I started to write poems." (P 15) He writes of his poems in this first chapter as "his prize catches". Finding this book is a prize catch for readers.
1. Capturing Animals
2. Wind and Weather
3. Writing about People
4. Learning to Think
5. Writing about Landscape
6. Writing a Novel: Beginning
7. Writing a Novel: Going on
8. Meet my Folks
9. Moon Creatures
"Words are tools, learned late and laboriously and easily forgotten, with which we try give some part of our experience a more or less permanent shape outside outrselves." (P 119)
This is an excellent book for anyone interested in Hughes, poetry or novel writing or literature in general. For teachers, it is a helpful companion to creative writing lessons. I am fortunate enough to have the original programmes on cassettes but the BBC would be on a winner if it produced a CD of the programmes. Intended for young people, it is only necessary to be young in spirit to enjoy this wealth of suggestions and hints as well as enjoyable readings of a varied range of poetry.
In the meantime, just enjoy this 130-page book.