Voices

You will look in vain for an ode to broccoli. And that is because broccoli is rubbish

Arifa Akbar: Hooray for miserable writers

Just as we are told that "bad news sells", so publishers began chanting a similar mantra in the 1990s when misery memoirs – first-person accounts of woe, ranging from sexual abuse to physical privation (or both, ideally, with a side order of anguish thrown in) – became highly marketable fare.

I've had the rhyme of my life: Inside a prestigious getaway for 15 Young Poets of the Year

For an indication of the health of British poetry, says Lemn Sissay, look no further than the strength of the entries to young people's competitions. "They're the momentum in a movement," he says – the force against a "competitive note" that has entered the contemporary poetry scene. The 42-year-old performance poet has just completed a week teaching the 15 winners of last year's Foyle Young Poets Award, which drew a record 14,000 entries from all over the world – and, by his reckoning, the future of the art form is very bright indeed.

Truth about love: New lyrics of loss, and joy, for grown-up Valentines

After an age of irony, love poetry for adults has returned. And often it takes the form of the elegy.

Medea, Oxford Playhouse, Oxford

Somerset Maugham once drolly suggested that we should try to forgive other people for the wrongs that we do them. Whenever I see Euripides' great tragedy Medea, I reflect that there could be an inverted corollary to that remark – we should seek to forgive people for the self-sacrificial things they have done for us. The eponymous heroine has pulled out all the stops to further the career of her eventual husband Jason. She has betrayed her father, helped steal the Golden Fleece, and murdered her brother

You don't have to be bipolar to be a genius – but it helps

Study reveals that high-achievers are far more likely to be manic depressives

Boyd Tonkin: Words that allow us to stare grief in the face

In a culture warier than ever of poetry in public places, it looks as if elegies can still take you through the grandest entrances. During the late 1990s, the Whitbread book of the year award (forerunner of the Costas, before beer gave way to coffee) went four times in succession to volumes of verse: two by Seamus Heaney, two by Ted Hughes.

Elektra, Barbican Hall, London<br/>Le vin herbé, St George's, Bloomsbury, London

Earplugs come in handy once Greek tragedy is in full cry, but a neglected oratorio proves exquisite

Tim Walker: 'Leanne Shapton's first novel is a work of meticulous high quirk'

The Couch Surfer: It took me days to recover from reading The Road. Why would I put myself through it all over again?

When heaven freezes over: How to keep plants warm this winter

Before the chill winds really begin to bite, it's time to think about wrapping up those delicate plants to see them through the winter

Life Support: How to be cheerful

Essential skills for the modern world

Sylvia Plath's son commits suicide in Alaska

Nicholas Hughes, the son of poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, has killed himself. His death was 46 years after his mother committed suicide and almost 40 years to the day after his stepmother, Assia Wevill, did the same. He was 47.

William DeWitt Snodgrass: Poet whose highly personal works spawned the genre of confessional poetry

W.D. Snodgrass was a modern-day troubadour, with a lyric voice deeply influenced by his love of music. Of the generation that followed the major American figures of Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman and Robert Lowell, he enjoyed a prodigious early success, winning the Pulitzer prize for his first book of poems, Heart's Needle (1959).

Three Women, Jermyn Street Theatre, London

When babies were still seen as little pink bundles of love, Sylvia Plath had another view. To her, the newborn was a thief, of time, identity, and life itself. One of the three women in her radio play of 1962 (Plath killed herself the following year) enjoys motherhood, but not all the time. The secretary has a miscarriage, and the unmarried student, wishing she had had an abortion ("I should have murdered this that murders me"), gives her baby away.

Three Women, Jermyn St Theatre, London<br>Showstopper! King's Head Theatre, London

A forgotten radio play by Sylvia Plath captures the diverse universes into which women are propelled by pregnancy
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How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?