Ted Hughes

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.

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

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.

The people's poet

The <i>IoS's</i> literary editor, Katy Guest, considers how Carol Ann Duffy will handle the 'poisoned chalice' of being the new Poet Laureate

A poet's Yorkshire retreat

Adrian Mourby lets himself into the house where Yorkshire's most celebrated poet was born, now a holiday cottage-cum-writer's retreat &ndash; and hopes for inspiration.