Episode 29: A Poet’s Haven

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The artist Barrie Cooke had fishing in common with Ted Hughes, and mud and art in common with Seamus Heaney. Dr Mark Wormald, a scholar on the life and writings of Ted Hughes, has brought to light an extraordinary haul of poems, letters and drawings documenting a decades-long triangular friendship and a shared love of poetry and nature. He describes the spine-tingling discovery of Barrie’s cardboard box stuffed with correspondence and traces its history, starting with the first supper at Barrie’s Kilkenny home, and then at Jerpoint, also on the River Nore, where the trio forged their friendship, Seamus began Station Island and a poet’s haven flourished. From Ted’s dream of a burning fox man, climbing into Carrowkeel passage tombs and visits from Robert Lowell and Tom Paulin to fishing diaries, pike spoons and a stuffed trout, subsurface treasures are dredged up as our literary sifting takes us off the beaten track.


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Show Notes

Please find links to books, articles, and further reading listed below. The digits in brackets following each listing refer to the minute and second they are mentioned. (Episode duration: 46 minutes; 20 seconds)

Books Mentioned

We may be able to get hold of second-hand copies of the out-of-print titles listed below. Please get in touch with Jess in the Slightly Foxed office for more information.

River, Ted Hughes (6:46)

Lupercal, Ted Hughes (12:56)

Station Island, Seamus Heaney (14:34)

On Seamus Heaney, R. F. Foster (15:09)

Birthday Letters, Ted Hughes (20:13)

Crow, Ted Hughes (20:42)

– Opened Ground, Seamus Heaney (25:15)

The Silent Woman: Sylvia Plath And Ted Hughes, Janet Malcolm (39:50)

A Celtic Miscellany, selected and translated by Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson (41:38)

The Mission House, Carys Davies (43:12)

Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath, Heather Clark (45:48)

Related Slightly Foxed Articles

Through the Looking Glass, Jane Feaver on life at Faber and Faber, Issue 55

Other Links

– For more information about the Barrie Cooke archive, visit the Cambridge University website

Barry Cooke’s portrait of Ted Hughes, National Portrait Gallery (5:50)

Kilkenny Arts Week (33:47)

Keats-Shelley House, Rome (37:34)

The Slightly Foxed Best First Biography Prize 2020 (45:48)

Opening music: Preludio from Violin Partita No.3 in E Major by Bach

The Slightly Foxed Podcast is hosted by Philippa Lamb and produced by Podcastable


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