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Celebrating the life and work of Ted Hughes




The Last Thatcher

 when he fell like a stone axe,                  houses for miles trembled and ran            hatless           into the night.                        when his scrambled old eyes grew sick with death, when the mismatched clouds ran out of company, and his loyal heart stopped                              fixing, fixing broke. bits of limb all messy all           everywhere. we picked out nails from his heart with cat’s claws

while sinners turned with elope                  to the city’s tiled yawn                                its parquet floors.


village in uproar. but thatcher is impervious to this           bone-ache. as the factories start crossing

off country folk in their foreign homelands and desperates clutch the city street in leaking hands,              with their slate, with their shine, drenched,              thatcher is dispatched to the parlour. he      wrote it down:

bury me                      with a roof on.


      (so we sink scratch into coffin wood, the tattered cross-hatch of memory,

and a glow-

worm is dispatched,

by the mayor,

although in all in all it is

a rather


bricklayer’s affair)


Rhiannon Williams, Winner, 15-18, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016

remembering a visiting cat

it’s morning on tuesday and a Cat greets me, does                                                                                                          

                                               not know me, but kisses me, all quiet alabaster tongue and                                                                                                         

 stellate eyes like two cups of peppermint tea. he has this                                                                                                                        

 need to become part of my negative space, neck                                                                                                                       

 arching in feline yoga, so comfortable in his skin of                                                                                                               

 solidified fire that i press my ear to his stomach, rising as                                                                                    

 invisible hands would throttle bread dough, listen to the                                                                                                             

thuds peel from his artichoke heart. later two roads away a                                                                                                             

 mercedes got him i didn’t know what to                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          say                                                                           

 but years later could feel on my cheek                                                                       

 the place where his warmth beats                                                                                                                                                                      



Lucy Thynne, Runner-up, 15-18, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016

Response to ‘The Cat’ by Ted Hughes

 Too many lights,

Shouting calls,

Constant slam and click,

Of doors,

Hold the beast,

With eyes of fire,

And a tiny echo of a lion’s roar,

Rub it’s expectant,

Outstretched paw,

Hear it’s deep rumble,

From distant,

Wild Earth,

The cat’s true place of birth.


India-Amethyst Thakrar, Winner, 11-14, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016



I am the sky child

Believe me

I live above you all


My hair

Is thick with thatch and straw

My eyes

Are magpies


They see you

You and your broken ring

They know


I watch your every move

Believe me

I am above you all


Katie Kirkpatrick, Runner-up 11-14, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016



 Fur of ebony,

some of snow;


emerald eyes,

dark and deep.


Paws so soft;

claws are daggers.


Whiskers are thistles,

yet ever so soft.


A sand-paper tongue,

atop blades of teeth.


Nose is smooth,

but rough to the touch.


Two shoulder blades

carved in skeletal bone,


Spine head to hind,

her snake-like tail


the last thing I see

as she parades


out the door . . .


Elena Walker, Special Mention, 11-14, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016



My cat

 With bacon pink ears, sometimes held back

One-to-many stripes on its glossy coat

An occasional flea making it itchy

Watchful eyes, her ‘Cat-Nav’

Not friendly particularly to strangers

But neither too bad

My cat


Shiny little claws; pointy and hidden

(Which hate to be trimmed!)

Cutting holes in tablecloths

Laden with Sunday roast

Just as she puffs up her furry back, my cat

When the sparrow in the garden provokes


My cat with nine lives, as they say,

Alert, mysterious; spotting ghosts and fairies

Or chattering at the birds

While honing her cat senses as an efficient predator

Yet at other times, simply meowing for a cuddle

A tad laid-back and sometimes as lazy as can be


She loves to sit on my lap, my cat

For engaging in our cat communication

Visual, vocal and tactile

Totally unbothered if her whiskers brush to tickle me

But warming my otherwise bleak winter evenings

More than any hot water bottle or drinking chocolate


The cat held in high esteem by ancient Egyptians

Revered and worshipped

Always ready to snuggle for her selfish comfort

And lend me comfort - selflessly

The undisputed Queen of Pets and of my heart

My cat


Iona Mandal, Winner 6-10, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016


Walking through the streets,

Of a very busy city,

Very late at night.

With movie adverts on the wall,

Graffiti artists’ work dripping, dripping, dripping.

Bright street lamps lighting the street,

The smell of fish and chips, drifting out shop doors,

Ambulances wailing down the road and cars and taxis whizzing by.

Being careful not to bump into people,

Having difficulty keeping your eyes open,

Feeling like you would like to fall asleep . . .


Isabella McCullough, Runner-up, 6-10, Ted Hughes Young Poets’ Award 2016






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