Books: Cover Stories

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IN LIFE, Ted Hughes was reclusive, his privacy fiercely guarded by his sister. Only as his life ebbed away did he stand naked with Birthday Letters, chronicling his relationship with his first wife Sylvia Plath. Now Elaine Feinstein, poet, biographer and novelist, is to write his first biography. She and Hughes knew each other for 30 years and there is nothing to suggest that her book, bought by Weidenfeld and scheduled for 2001, will be anything other than full and fair. Feinstein's oeuvre includes a life of Pushkin, volumes of poetry, and an amusing sequel to Lady Chatterley's Lover. Her autobiography, Homesickness, is due this autumn.

QUITE HOW Hughes would feel about National Poetry Day (7 October) celebrating the song lyric is hard to guess. But his successor as Laureate, Andrew Motion, has written most approvingly of Bob Dylan (whose lyrics even impressed Philip Larkin). The event is set to launch another round of the Keats vs Dylan debate about popular culture, as the BBC conducts a poll to establish our favourite lyric.

POETRY IN all its forms will be celebrated later that month as Salisbury embarks on its "Last Words" festival. Organiser-poets Jo Shapcott and Don Paterson have commissioned 100 new poems from figures as varied as Wendy Cope and Peter Porter. The city will be transformed into "a giant living book of poems" - poems projected on buildings, displayed in shops, printed on bus tickets. Roger McGough will work on the Salisbury Journal, turning news stories into poetry; while Katherine Pierpoint will go to the cop shop to encourage poetry in the police.

NICE TO see the Guardian looking after its own. The paper has just announcecd the contenders for its new First Book Award. Among the five non-fiction titles is, oddly, an as yet unpublished and unreviewed travel book by Gary Younge - a journalist on, yes, the Guardian.