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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Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee