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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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The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003