A 21st century flavour will light up the fourth Ted Hughes Festival in Mexborough this year with hip hop and rap artists joining more traditional poets.
The poetry festival, organised by the Ted Hughes Project (South Yorkshire), run from tomorrow, September 7 to 9, and includes visual arts, children’s activities and poetry walks, as well as poetry readings.
Former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes lived in Mexborough from 1938 to 1951, with his first published poem featuring in the local grammar school magazine in 1946.
Hughes lived above the newsagents in the town, which was run by his parents. He left Mexborough to go to Cambridge University.
Festival creative director Michele Beck (pictured) said: “Although Hughes moved away from Mexborough in 1951, South Yorkshire was to influence his poetry throughout his life.
“The landscape, flora and fauna of the area underpin and inform much of his work and those familiar with the area will discern a distinctive South Yorkshire temperament in his writing.
“We want to use that connection with a figure of such stature to promote Mexborough and to develop a more positive identity for the town. We also want to bring together different cultures and backgrounds and celebrate diversity.”
The festival will kick off on the evening of Friday September 7 with performances by Moor Mother, an international touring musician, poet, visual artist, and workshop facilitator from Philadelphia; rising stars of poetry Nick Makoha and Roger Robinson in their ‘Mix Tape Tour’, and young writers from the Hive South Yorkshire project.
On Saturday September 8 there will be a series of activities throughout the day, including a street performance, supported by Doncaster-based Breaking Beats, an organisation which uses hip hop music and art to inspire young people.
In the evening three of the north of England’s most prominent poets Pete Green, Mike Garry and Kate Fox, will perform.
All the indoor events will be at Mexborough Business Centre, which used to be Mexborough Grammar School, which Hughes attended.
The festival finishes on the Sunday with the Ted Hughes Paper Round, a walk in the footsteps of the young Hughes, following his childhood paper round through Mexborough and into Old Denaby.
Michele said Mexborough could lay claim to Ted Hughes and added: “The festival and the project are about commemorating Hughes’ time in the town, and developing art and creativity in his name. Hughes is often associated with West Yorkshire, but we can lay claim to him here in Mexborough.”