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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 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.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 December 2012
The late and much missed Ted Hughes (1930-98) was a great ambassador for poetry, as well as a very fine poet. I can`t think of another who could have written a book quite like this, or quite so successfully.
Ostensibly for children, but this ageing adult has been beguiled for decades by it, this wonderful book sets out to inspire and help budding writers - of all ages, but particularly young people.
In several chapters, such as Wind and Weather, Learning to Think, and Writing About Landscape, Hughes gives a delightful, vigorous commentary and provides examples of poetry from diverse sources, from John Clare to D.H. Lawrence, Holub to Popa, Edward Thomas to Larkin. He also includes a generous selection of his own poems along the way, a good idea as those not familiar with his oeuvre can see him, as it were, putting his money where his mouth is and, more importantly, benefit from his keenly observant eye and ear.
Of course, this is a book for teachers as well as learners of poetry. One wonders how much and how often poetry is taught these days in our schools, since recent governments appear to believe that children should be taught only what is necessary to contribute to the economy, an attitude so philistine as to be obscene. If it is still taught with any enthusiasm, this is a book which ought still to be in every classroom. Not everyone can be a poet, but we can all be readers. The more poetry you read, the more it becomes as natural a part of your life as breathing.
Sometimes, whatever age we are, we need a book like this, to remind, to remember, to re-inspire. Hughes was a dynamic inspirer of others, and a devoted believer in the sheer power of literature, for adults and children alike.
If you are at all interested in poetry and how it works, this makes for essential reading.
One could do worse than quote from Hughes`s own famous early poem The Thought-Fox, a meditation on the act of writing poetry as well as a haunting poem in its own right:

I imagine this midnight moment`s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock`s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move
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on 5 October 2010
I loved this book. I read it through once in a couple of days and then went through it again and made notes. The aspects I really enjoyed were the style of writing but also the fact that the author makes a point of telling you how important it is to be in touch with your inner life in order to write beautiful poems. The way to do that, he suggests, is to engage in free writing for short periods of time, say ten to fifteen minutes on a particular subject: `...the imagination likes a wide open field of action, fifteen minutes of licence and immunity.' (p. 51) But this is not all; words have to be chosen carefully so that they `belong directly to the five senses'.

He analyses how some of the most important poetry writing tools affect the reader. A good simile or metaphor, for example, must make you see distinctly the two related concepts. A unique detail of a person's appearance should be chosen instead of a common one when you write a poem about a character.

Towards the end of the book there are two chapters of useful advice on writing novels.

In the final chapter Mr. Hughes reiterates and emphasises the concept that poetry puts its author in touch with her inner life, imagination and intelligence. Poetry writing is worth pursuing for this reason alone.
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on 12 May 2009
This is an inspiring book for both children and adults. As an adult just starting to write poetry and short stories I found it second to none. Ted Hughes clearly thinks everyone can learn to write well. I found it original and articulate, refreshingly different to the many 'You can do it' books which flood the market today. I highly recommend it.
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on 17 December 2012
I really enjoyed and was stimulated by reading Ted Hughes ideas on how to write poetry, Although, when I ordered it I hadn't realised it was for teachers, it doesn't matter, it has stimulated so much thought about how to write. There is a connection with my work as an art and farm therapist, he writes about how we are lazy thinkers,, we don't have to pay attention to the detail of life, so we get bored. This is something I have noticed about farming, you have to pay very close attention to the detail otherwise the animals die! And farm therapy is beginning to be seen as very helpful for people who are deeply troubled, this attention to detail probably helps take them out of their own stuck world. He recounts an experiment with a Americans and African Tribesmen and the results are fascinating and thought provoking. Reading the book really makes one wish to have a go at writing, it makes it so accessible..
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on 6 April 2009
After reading this book I sat down and wrote one of the best poems I have ever written, which has just won an award. This book is well worth a read whether a child or adult.
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on 28 January 2012
Handbook for all ages of those wanting to write. Very well presented and inspiring book I recommended whole-heartedly. Even in writing about writing Ted Hughes manages to present it to us with beautiful imagery, good exercises and sense of humour.
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on 16 September 2015
book content is good, was expecting better in terms of print/binding quality, it's got a horrible font and really poor quality paper, like a mass market paperback
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on 13 February 2014
Hughes writes with genuine depth of knowledge, inspiring you to 'have a go' yourself. A useful resource for poetry readers and writers alike.
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on 14 June 2014
I enjoyed - and am still enjoying - using this book as a focus for some pleasant if serious thinking and activity around poetry. Fab.
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