The third annual Ted Hughes Poetry Festival takes place this weekend (Friday 23rd – Sunday 25th June) at Mexborough Business Centre, College Road, Mexborough, S64 9JP.

We have a fabulous line up of performers and activities programmed for this year. Our headliner for Friday 23rd is Simon Armitage, poet, broadcaster, Professor of Poetry at Oxford and Sheffield Universities, and one of the nation’s best loved poets. Also reading this evening will be Forward Prize winning poet Vahni Capildeo, and fantastic local poets and performers Mike O’Brien, Ian Parks and Mick Jenkinson. The event starts at 6.30pm (click here for more info and to book tickets).

Saturday’s programme is equally exciting. Creative Producer Dominic Somers will lead poetry–related activities and giveaways on Mexborough High Street between 11am and 1pm, while poet and scholar Andy Armitage leads a creative writing workshop (10am – 12 noon) based on the writings of Ted Hughes’s first wife, Sylvia Plath. The Plath theme continues in the early afternoon (1pm – 4pm) with short readings from three multi-award-winning younger poets — Melissa Lee-Houghton, Kim Moore and Charlotte Wetton. After the readings, the poets will be joined by Andy Armitage and American scholar Heather Clark — the world’s leading expert on Sylvia Plath, whose biography of the poet will be published next year — for a panel discussion on the relevance of Plath to younger women poets today. Heather will round off the Sylvia Plath Afternoon with a talk on Hughes and Plath.

The Saturday evening session (6.30pm – 9.30pm) is headlined by the legendary dub-poet and social activist Linton Kwesi Johnson, who came to prominence in the late seventies with his searing and incendiary album Dread Beat An Blood. Linton’s work inspired a generation, and he has remained a leading figure in the poetry world. He is the only black British poet to have his work published in the Penguin Modern Classics series. Programmed alongside Linton – in something of a London invasion – are poets Tim Wells and Janine Booth: witty, wry and committed poets and electric performers. The highly-rated Middlesbrough based folk band Peg Powler complete the bill.

The main festival weekend ends on Sunday morning (11am – 1.30pm) with the ever popular ‘Ted Hughes’s Paper Round’ performance trail, led by Steve Ely and Dominic Somers. The trail — based on Hughes’s childhood paper round — will this year incorporate the installation of two amazing sculptures commemorating Hughes (by artists Shane Green and Jane Robbins) commissioned by the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire).

The festival will also facilitate an art exhibition and competition on the Hughesian theme of ‘transformation’ led by artist Peter Olding; the exhibition can be viewed at Mexborough Business Centre over the festival weekend.

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