Despite a mixed bag of weather, the annual Ted Hughes Festival proved a shining success with both performers and audiences.
The event, organised by The Elmet Trust, took place from Wednesday to Sunday with various literary events scattered around the Calder Valley and beyond.
As rain, wind and hail stones raced through the Calder Valley on Friday afternoon, 30 children from Burnley Road and Scout Road Academies, Mytholmroyd, and Cragg Vale Primary School were modelling animals in clay with sculptor Kenny Hunter.
Kenny’s sculpture of a hawk, inspired by Ted Hughes’ poem ‘Hawk’, was recently erected on the canal side at Hawksclough near Mytholmroyd and its creator’s class proved a hit.
A festival spokesperson said: “Kenny was heard to comment on the great concentration skills of the Mytholmroyd children as they ignored the noisy weather and focused on turning lumps of clay into brilliant model animals.”
Later on Friday, the multi-award winning poet Paul Farley read from his work to an appreciative audience and a background of dramatic falling rain at Hebden Bridge library. Paul paid tribute to the late poet laureate, Ted Hughes, and also read one of his poems with a local connection.
Across town there was a change of poetic atmosphere upstairs in The White Lion where mistress of ceremonies Rosie Garland led The Creatures of the Night Poetry Slam.
The pop up poetry café in Mytholomroyd on Saturday saw a little sunshine and five poets, including Mytholmroyd’s Adelle Stripe, read from their collections.
A festival spokesperson said that many of the audience members agreed that the highlight of the afternoon was listening to Mexborough’s Steve Ely read from his first collection, ‘Oswald’s Book of Hours’.
Steve’s work has been likened to Ted Hughes and Geoffrey Hill and is causing excitement in the poetry world. Elmet Trust member Jeni Wetton said: “We were delighted to have Steve as a guest at the poetry café. His work is first class and is really beginning to get recognised. We were so proud that he came to Mytholmroyd to do his first performance after being at the Forward Poetry Prize ceremony in London. He is a name to be watched.”
Jeni said Steve will shortly be featured in the BBC Radio 4 poetry programme Eco Chamber. The festival, which started with a Ted Hughes poetry workshop in Huddersfield University, finished on Sunday afternoon at the Arvon Writing Centre, Lumb Bank, where walkers were given a guided tour of, and talk about, Ted Hughes’ former home above Heptonstall.