Ever-popular Ted Hughes Festival returns to Mexborough

Professor David Morley at last year's Ted Hughes Festival.

Professor David Morley at last year's Ted Hughes Festival.

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The life and work of esteemed poet Ted Hughes is to be celebrated at a festival in his former hometown of Mexborough.

Poets, musicians and literary fans will gather in the town for the Ted Hughes Poetry Festival between June 18 and 26, following a successful inaugural event last year which attracted guests from across the country.

Ted Hughes.

Ted Hughes.

Hughes, British Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998, attended Mexborough Grammar School and lived in the town from 1938 to 1951.

Dominic Somers, creative producer of the Ted Hughes Festival, said: “We are thrilled to have got funding from the Arts Council, Right Up Our Street and Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership to put on this festival to Mexborough for the second year.

“We already have a stellar cast of artists taking part in events throughout the festival. The ‘Three Ians’ - McMillan, Clayton and Parks will start proceedings on the Friday night with a mixture of poetry, story and humour.

“A real coup for this year is the Saturday night, which will see a reading by acclaimed poet and artist Frieda Hughes, Frieda is of course, Ted Hughes’s daughter.”

Activities will take place in and around Ted Hughes's old grammar school where he was inspired to write his first poems. It was there that he came under the spell of two charismatic teachers, Pauline Mayne and John Fisher, who introduced him to the poetry that would form his taste and shape his own work — Eliot, Lawrence, Hopkins, Donne, Shelley — and of course, Hughes’s beloved Shakespeare.

At the school, Hughes wrote, directed and acted in plays and crucially, wrote his first poems, which he published in the school magazine, The Don & Dearne. He went on to write critically-acclaimed poems and books such as The Iron Man.

The festival will include a range of performances and activities including award winning and acclaimed poets Helen Mort, Greg Leadbetter, Vidyan Ravithiran, Cathy Galvin who will give readings and Greg and Vidyan will participate with Ed Reiss and Steve Ely in a roundtable discussion entitled ‘Politics and Ted Hughes’.

Matthew Clegg and singer-songwriter Ray Hearne will be reprising their popular ‘A Navigation’ performance trail.They will meet in Station Road, Mexborough, on Saturday, June 18, at 1pm.

Poet Ed Reiss will lead a poetry walk from Mexborough to Sprotborough Falls.Meet at Denaby Ings, Pastures Road, Mexborough, on June 19 at 1pm.

Professor David Morley. winner of the Ted Hughes Award; said: “This is the liveliest poetry festival in the UK. It arises from the community, embraces the community, and takes them to other worlds.”

The festival will also include a session with Steve Ely and Dominic Somers, who will lead an updated version of the ever-popular ‘Ted Hughes’s Paper Round’, Ian Parks will host an evening devoted another Mexborough poet, Harold Massingham, and visual arts will be represented by photographer Karl Hurst’s Ted Hughes-based exhibition and Hughes-themed work from local art groups.

For a full list of events and to book tickets visit www.tedhughesproject.org