“A Ted Hughes Bestiary”

I don’t think I have ever come across a collection of poems more suited to reading aloud then “A Ted Hughes Bestiary”, edited by Alice Oswald. Because most may be perfect to be heard, many are – I found – difficult to read.

Consequently I struggled with quite of few of these. I think the Hughes we are introduced to as children is the ‘easy’ version – a bit like dipping your literary toe into Dylan Thomas and then suddenly coming across ‘The Force that through the green fuse’…

The poems from ‘Moortown Diary’ (1979) onwards, seem more immediately accessible, and there are scattered throughout the 170 pages some real gems: “Wolfwatching” is wonderful, for example.

There’s no denying Hughes was prolific in his pomp: 1978, 3 collections; 1979, 4 books… Similarly, the beat behind lots of his poems seems equally relentless: hard-boiled images, complex compound words, and often so much pace.

A book to dip into whenever you need a Hughes/animal ‘fix’…