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Could this have been an act of sabotage by the outraged burghers of bucolic Stedham, deep in the Sussex countryside?

Splendid isolation in Yorkshire: A creative writing course in the shadow of Sylvia Plath

Last June when I arrived at Lumb Bank, a forbidding granite farmhouse above Hebden Bridge, the house manager Becky didn't take my luggage, but she did take a weight off my shoulders: "There's no television, radio or internet connection here," she mentioned breezily as she showed me to a small, sparse bedroom. It struck me then that a holiday might be as simple as removing the white noise of everyday life for a while. And that, I thought guiltily, includes my two small children whom I had left with my wife. But guilt passes. And in my case, quickly.

Leading article: The lifelong benefits of learning by heart

The lessons that Michael Gove wants young schoolchildren to learn have been understood by poets since the time of Homer. Heightened language, driven by rhyme and rhythm, facilitates memory.

Fretwork/Wilkinson/Courtenay, Kings Place, London

Winter solstice: the longest, darkest night of the year. How better to spend it than with a top soprano, a theatrical knight, and six viols, and where better than in the soft blue gloom of Kings Place? All came with promising baggage: the Fretwork ensemble had just released a remarkable viol-arrangement of Bach's 'Goldberg Variations'; Clare Wilkinson had dazzled us a few days previously with her a cappella exploits with I Fagiolini; and Sir Tom Courtenay – well, we knew where he was coming from. Fretwork would provide instrumental music, Courtenay would give us poems.

The Death of Lomond Friel, By Sue Peebles

Set in the damp Fife countryside, Sue Peebles's suprisingly perky debut, given the subject matter, explores the impact of a father's stroke on his family.

The Blagger's Guide To...The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

Life, death, lunch and prisoners in the rain

Paul Vallely: A last letter seared in fierce flames

The newly discovered poem by Ted Hughes on the death of his wife Sylvia Plath is a private, raw affair

The Ted Hughes lost poem: Who wants to live forever?

Last Letter has been revealed, but is it what he would have wanted

John Walsh: Hughes's inner turmoil laid bare

Ted Hughes's poem "Last Letter", newly discovered in the British Library, is a shattering piece of work. Not because it's the first piece of writing in which he addressed the circumstances of Sylvia Plath's suicide. Not because it tracks through the last three days of her unhappy life on earth. Not even because it's a great poem, although it has moments of Parnassian brilliance. What makes it an emotionally draining experience is the tension it embodies, between what the angry, distraught, bewildered husband Ted Hughes wants to say about his wife's final hours, and what the cool, judicious, focused poet Ted Hughes will allow himself to say about them for posterity. Wordsworth said poetry was "emotion recollected in tranquillity". I don't believe I've ever read a poem in which emotion was so obviously recollected in anguish and turmoil, barely contained by the formal requirements of line, sense and rhythm.

New Hughes poem tells of Plath death

A previously unpublished poem has been discovered in which the late Poet Laureate Ted Hughes recalls the day in which he is told: "Your wife is dead."

Library purchases letters offering 'real insight' into poet Ted Hughes

Poems and letters written by former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes which have never been seen in public before have been bought by the British Library.

Free Independent Drama: Late poet Ted Hughes is remembered in Dreaming of Foxes

The late poet laureate Ted Hughes would have been 80 this month, and to mark the occasion, The Independent is giving you the chance to listen to and download an exclusive new drama by Made in Manchester/Dark Smile.

Ted Hughes to join literary elite with Poets' Corner memorial

Former Poet Laureate is to be commemorated alongside Chaucer and Shakespeare

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.

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.

Simon Armitage: 'I'm quite boyish in my outlook'

Simon Armitage, renowned writer, national curriculum fixture, is that rare thing: a poet who admits to a sunny frame of mind
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Independent Travel
Pompeii, Capri & the Bay of Naples
Seven Cities of Italy
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence
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Lake Garda
Minoan Crete and Santorini
Prices correct as of 17 April 2015
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A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
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The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
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Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
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You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
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Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

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Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

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