The third Ted Hughes Poetry Festival took place over the weekend of 23-25 June 2017, with a varied and exciting programme of events in and around Mexborough, including readings and performances from award-winning poets Simon Armitage, Vahni Capildeo and Linton Kwesi Johnson.
In the weeks leading up to the main festival weekend, we ‘raised the curtain’ with a series of one-off events that highlight the festival’s engagement with place, beginning on Saturday 20 May with a poetry and birding workshop at RSPB Old Moor, led by poet and avid birder John Whale. Steve Ely launched ‘Incendium Amoris’, his third collection, in the unique atmosphere of St. Laurence’s Church, Adwick-le-Street, on Thursday 8 June (joined by Chris Jones and Ann Walton), and Helen Mort led us back into Hughes’s landscape on Saturday 11 June with a poetry walk from Denaby Ings to Sprotbrough.
The main festival weekend opened at Mexborough Business Centre on Friday 23 June, with an evening of readings from Simon Armitage, Mike O’Brien and Vahni Capildeo. On Saturday morning, we had a range of unexpected poetry-themed activities and interventions in Mexborough town centre, while, back at the Business Centre, Andy Armitage led a workshop on Sylvia Plath. Our afternoon session maintained the focus on Plath, with a special reading featuring poets Melissa Lee Houghton, Charlotte Wetton and Kim Moore, followed by a talk from leading Plath scholar Heather Clark. An unmissable line-up of Tim Wells, Janine Booth, Peg Powler and Linton Kwesi Johnson brought Saturday’s programme to a memorable conclusion.
On Sunday 25 June, we revisited the paths and perspectives of Ted Hughes’s Paper Round (recently featured on Radio 4’s The Echo Chamber) led by Steve Ely and Dominic Somers. This event also marked the launch of the Ted Hughes Trail, with new sculptures commissioned for the project.