Ted Hughes: a Tribute

Ted Hughes March 1993
(CC-BY-SA Breakingthings)

Bath Literature Festival
The Forum, Bath, 28 February

I confess that I mostly chose this event to go to because it included Kate Tempest and I keep missing her Bristol shows. But I also like Ted Hughes’ poetry and was interested in what a tribute to him would be like. The answer? A bit uneven and yet also staid. But Kate was really good.

The audience had been expecting Melvyn Bragg and Jonathan Dimbleby, which perhaps explains the make-up of the crowd (largely older than me, and very white upper middle class, but then it was Bath) – they actually groaned when the panel change was announced. Personally I bought my ticket after this change was made. It might have been enough to put me off even the chance to see Kate Tempest. I know Bragg and Dimbleby are supposed to be beloved national icons but I find them very dull.

The event was hosted by Bel Mooney, a writer who co-founded the festival 20 years ago, which was when she first met Ted Hughes, who opened that year’s festival in the Forum, the same venue hosting his tribute. She spoke warmly of him as a man and as a writer, hitting all the right notes of celebration and admiration.

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