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The Ted Hughes Society Podcast

On the life and work of Ted Hughes


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  • 4. Ted Hughes's Gaudete: an immersive drama

    16:02
    This is the third episode of the podcast to focus on Ted Hughes's Gaudete, the book which distinguished British composer Stuart MacRae described in his programme note to his setting of eight parts of the poem as: 'Part film scenario, part novel, part poetry collection, it passes through a series of different states and modes of expression, from the hallucinatory prose-poem of the Prologue, through the interconnected narrative poems of the text’s main body, to the Epilogue, which consists of a short prose introduction followed by forty-five short poems – some of the most abstract and dense in Hughes’s entire oeuvre. Despite the relative directness of the narrative section’s style and form, the Epilogue poems – and indeed the book as a whole – do not yield their meanings easily; one might even describe them as abstruse. Their power lies in the ability to communicate, through sudden and powerful images that confront the reader with shocking clarity, the most profound, surprising and elemental propositions.' (1)   In this podcast Mike Wilson reflects on the dramatic pace of the piece, and how compelling and immersive the experience of reading Gaudete can be, and the meaning of the title: Gaudete = Rejoice.    Mike Wilson is Professor of Drama and Creative Arts at Loughborough University. Mike is an expert on Grand Guignol, a form of theatre which alternates short pieces depicting horror and the erotic which was originally performed at the Grand Guignol theatre in Paris. Mike is also an expert on storytelling and folklore, and is director of Loughborough University’s Storytelling Academy which has pioneered Applied Storytelling: using storytelling for social purposes such as exploring strategies to cope with loneliness, and using storytelling as a tool for reconciliation and co-operation between individuals and organisations with opposing or competing aims or views.       Mike’s many publications include Storytelling and Theatre: Professional Storytellers and Their Art, published by Palgrave in 2005; Grand Guignolesque: classic and contemporary horror theatre, co-edited with Richard J Hand and published in 2022 by the University of Exeter Press; and The Midnight Washerwoman and other Lower Breton Tales, , a collection of Mike’s translations, published this year by Princeton University Press in their Oddly Modern Fairytales series. For detailed information on Mike's publications please go to https://publications.lboro.ac.uk/publications/all/collated/eamw4.html and for further information on the work of the Storytelling Academy please go to https://storytellingacademy.education/   (1): https://www.wisemusicclassical.com/work/35874/Gaudete--Stuart-MacRae/ If you would like to find out more about the Ted Hughes Society, you can visit the society’s website at thetedhugessociety.org, or you can email me, Mick Gowar, at membership@thetedhughessociety.orgThe opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.) 

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  • 3. Ted Hughes's Gaudete: Grand Guignol and Folk Horror

    18:47
    This is the second episode of the podcast to focus on Gaudete, the book which even admirers of Hughes often find his most puzzling and difficult.      Gaudete began as a scenario for a film in 1962. According to Elaine Feinstein in her biography of Ted Hughes, it was sent to a Swedish film director, almost certainly Ingmar Bergman. However, according to Mark Ford, in an article in the London Review of Books,  Bergman never received it, but from the nascent script Hughes developed the version of Gaudete we have which was eventually published in 1977. In this podcast Mike Wilson looks at the book in terms of its theatricality - examining the drama which is acted out by the characters, and comparable performance traditions including Grand Guignol, folk horror, and burlesque song, in particular The Castleford Ladies Magic Circle by Jake Thackray.    Mike Wilson is Professor of Drama and Creative Arts at Loughborough University. Mike is an expert on Grand Guignol, a form of theatre which alternates short pieces depicting horror and the erotic which was originally performed at the Grand Guignol theatre in Paris. Mike is also an expert on storytelling and folklore, and is director of Loughborough University’s Storytelling Academy which has pioneered Applied Storytelling - using storytelling for social purposes such as exploring strategies to cope with loneliness, and using storytelling as a tool for reconciliation and co-operation between individuals and organisations with opposing or competing aims or views.       Mike’s many publications include Storytelling and Theatre: Professional Storytellers and Their Art, published by Palgrave in 2005; Grand Guignolesque: classic and contemporary horror theatre,  co-edited with Richard J Hand and published in 2022 by the University of Exeter Press; and published this year by Princeton University Press in their Oddly Modern Fairytales series, The Midnight Washerwoman and other Lower Breton Tales, a collection of Mike’s translations. For detailed information on Mike's publications please go to https://publications.lboro.ac.uk/publications/all/collated/eamw4.html and for further information on the work of the Storytelling Academy please go to https://storytellingacademy.education/       If you would like to find out more about the Ted Hughes Society, you can visit the society’s website at thetedhugessociety.org, or you can email me, Mick Gowar, at membership@thetedhughessociety.orgThe opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.) 
  • 2. Poets from the Ted Hughes Society

    19:29
    This podcast is rather different from the previous podcasts. Rather than consisting of either readings of poems or prose by Ted Hughes, or a talk or discussion focusing on some aspect of the work of Ted Hughes, this podcast pays tribute to the inspiration that Ted Hughes’s poetry continues to provide to other writers.  Four members of the Ted Hughes Society - Mark Haworth-Booth, Michael McCall, James Longwill and Terry Gifford - have recorded themselves reading poems which they have composed which they feel are in some way indebted to Ted Hughes example and the pleasure and encouragement to their own creativity that reading Hughes’s work has given them. My grateful thanks to all four poets for such excellent readings.This podcast represents a little of the remarkable amount of creative talent which exists within the Ted Hughes Society and I hope we can make these kinds of podcasts a regular part of the programme.If you would like to find out more about the Ted Hughes Society, you can visit the society’s website at thetedhugessociety.org, or you can email me, Mick Gowar, at membership@thetedhughessociety.orgThe opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.)
  • 1. Ted Hughes's 'Gaudete': the vacanas

    20:28
    Ann Skea, expert on Ted Hughes and spirituality, the occult and the Goddess reflects on the vacanas, the short 'hymns and psalms to a nameless female deity' which end the epilogue to Gaudete (first published 1977). Introduced by Katherine Robinson.Ann Skea was born in England and migrated to Australia with her husband and children in 1967. She lived in Hong Kong between 1976 and 1979, and currently lives in Sydney, although for family reasons, she also spends a good deal of time in London. Ann is trained as a pharmacist. She has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and English literature, a master’s degree in literature and a Ph.D. She obtained her degree as a mature-age student at the University of New England in Australia. Her doctorate and the area of her continuing scholarly research concerns the work of the late British Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes. Ann is the author of Ted Hughes: The Poetic Quest (University of New England, 1994), and is an internationally recognized and widely published scholar specializing in the work of Ted Hughes. Her Ted Hughes web pages (https://ann.skea.com/THHome.htm) are archived by the British Library. She is a regular book reviewer for various magazines and is a freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel, myth and culture. She has also published widely in magazines and journals. In 2016, Ann Skea was elected as an associate scholar at Pembroke College, Cambridge.The podcast is once again introduced by Katherine Robinson. Katherine is a research student at Pembroke College, Cambridge, working on how Ted Hughes reimagined and retold early Celtic mythology in his poetry, and is the bibliographer for the Ted Hughes Society. Before coming to Pembroke College Katherine studied at Ameherst College, Massachusetts and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. Her poetry and fiction have appeared in The London Magazine, Poetry Ireland, Kenyon Review, and The Hudson Review.The opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.)
  • 7. Ted Hughes and the Pembroke College Archive

    54:29
    This episode looks at the extensive and rapidly growing Ted Hughes archive which is housed at Hughes's old college, Pembroke College, Cambridge. Contributing to this podcast are Lizzy Einnon-Smith and Mark Wormald. The podcast is introduced by Katherine Robinson.Lizzy graduated from St. Hilda's College, Oxford, and is Archivist at Pembroke College, Cambridge. She was formerly an Archivist at St. Catherine's College, Cambridge and King's College, Cambridge, and Records Manager at Girton College, Cambridge. As Archivist at Pembroke College it has been Lizzy's responsibility to organise and catalogue the rapidly expanding Ted Hughes archive to enable it to be used for future research into the life and work of Ted Hughes. Lizzy also maintains the website of the Cambridge Archivists' Group: https://cambridgearchivistsgroup.wordpress.com/about/Mark Wormald is a Fellow of Pembroke College Cambridge, and Director of Studies for Part 2 English. Much of the recent expansion of the Ted Hughes archive at Pembroke College has been as a result of Mark's efforts, in particular the acquisition of Barrie Cooke's papers. Mark is the author of The Catch: Fishing for Ted Hughes (Bloomsbury) which was described by The Times as a 'beautifully written portrait of the poet explores his life and work through his passion for fishing.' Mark is Chair of the Ted Hughes Society.Katherine Robinson is a research student at Pembroke College Cambridge, working on how Ted Hughes reimagined and retold early Celtic mythology in his poetry. Before coming to Pembroke College, Katherine studied at Ameherst College, Massachusetts and Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and worked in a marine mammal sanctuary in the Shetland Islands. Katherine is the bibliographer for the Ted Hughes Society.The opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.)
  • 6. Ted Hughes and Religion part 3: 'The Casualty'

    13:23
    In this episode, poet and retired schoolmaster David Day contributes to the theme of Ted Hughes and religion with a commentary on Hughes's early poem 'The Casualty' (The Hawk In The Rain (1957) Faber & Faber: p.49; Ted Hughes: Collected Poems ed. Paul Keegan (2003) Faber & Faber: p.42).David took a BA in English and History at Durham where he regularly turned out for the university cricket and hockey first XIs and was awarded full colours. He was an English teacher in Yorkshire for forty-two years, HMC representative on the National Curriculum, Key Stage 3 English consultative committee, and chair of the local 16+ English Examination panel.David's collection of poems, Brass Rubbings was published by Carcanet in 1975, and a review in the Guardian praised David's poems as being "of rare delicacy of design". A further collection, After Midnight Mass, has been completed. David's poems have been published in the TLS, New York Times, Critical Quarterly, PN Review, Encounter, PEN New Poems and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.  The opening and closing music is from Beethoven's String Quartet No 14, opus 131, performed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.)
  • 5. Ted Hughes and Religion: part 2

    23:15
    This is the second of two podcasts recorded with Dr. Mike Sweeting on the topic of Ted Hughes's relationship with religion - specifically Christianity. Mike concludes his observations with his thoughts on how some of Ted Hughes's later work - particularly some of the poems included in Birthday Letters, the last collection published in his lifetime - indicate a change of attitude on Hughes's part: a willingness to acknowledge the suffering he has caused others as well as the suffering he has experienced; an aparent willingness to make amends; and a tendency towards elegy and lamentation.Works mentioned in the podcast:'Crow blacker than ever' from Crow: from the life and songs of the Crow (2020) with an introduction by Marina Warner. London: Faber & Faber.'The Shot' from Birthday Letters (1998) London: Faber & Faber.'October Salmon' from River (1983) with photographs by Peter Keen. London: Faber & Faber.'The Strand at Lough Beg' from 100 Poems (2018) London: Faber & Faber.For listeners who would like to read further about Ted Hughes and religion, Dr Ann Skea writes:'Among the loose pages in the British Library file Add Ms 88918/9/9, there are several which record Hughes' pondering on his difficulties in keeping his "large multiple front operations fully operational"; and his need to make "more serious moves" if he is "truly intended to make a close communion with the divinity". He examines what he means by 'the will'; paraphrases Kirekegard's comments about the difference between "worshippers who merely imagine their relationship with the divinity and those who undergo it as a transforming experience"; and writes revealingly of his own relationship with religion and religions.I would also reccomend Dr Krishnendu Gupta's article in vol. 8 issue 1 of The Ted Hughes Society Journal (http://thetedhughessociety.org/the-ted-hughes-society-journal-open-access) and David Troups's book length study Ted Hughes and Christianity (2019) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.The opening and closing music is from String Quartet No 14, opus 131, oerfomed by the Orion String Quartet. (The extract is reproduced under Creative Commons licence IMSLP: Creative Commons Atribution Non-commercial No Derivative 3.0.)