When I was in the sixth form we were taken on a school visit to see Ted Hughes at the Yorkshire Playhouse. I remember sitting in the front row and tittering as the tall man stepped out from the curtain and strode towards the one stool on the stage. He was not the commanding figure we’d expected….
But then he sat on the stool and began reading. He had a Yorkshire accent to our surprise, and a voice of rolling warmth and power. He began reading The Thought Fox and it was as if someone had turned a key in my back. ‘I imagine this midnight moment’s forest….’
Our school trip to see Hughes changed my life. I wanted to be a writer. I think I knew this already but in that badly-lit theatre, listening to Hughes murmuring ‘the window is starless still, the clock ticks, the page is printed,’ I knew it with a sense of dread certainty.
Back to The Thought Fox again, and the power of what we can imagine and how it creates reality. ‘Brilliantly, concentratedly coming about its own business’. Writers’ visits to schools shouldn’t be a luxury, an add-on, only for well-off schools that can afford them. The arts are as essential a subject as any we have. Sometimes a visiting artist or writer, a trip to the theatre can change lives. I am grateful to Hughes and to poetry for saving mine.
Blogs I Follow
- Someday you might like this song by Jason Molina, Farewell Transmission, but don’t go down his dark path no no
- Why did the South support the Federal income tax and the 16th amendment? because they understood the Progressive movement all too well
- Who I Am & Why I Am Where I Am by Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith
- Kathryn Schulz in The New Yorker, on WIlliam Kelley, a fantastic short essay
- Damien Hirst documentary on Netflix “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable”
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