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Frieda Hughes, Out of the Ashes – review

Out of the Ashes, by Frieda Hughes. Bloodaxe Books. 240 pp. £12

Handsomely produced, like all Bloodaxe books, Out of the Ashes is a generous selection from four of Hughes’ previous collections, not including the US-published Forty-five or the illustrated Alternative Values. Hughes’ introduction sets the poetry in the context of her life, explaining some of her purposes and procedures, and at the end there’s a section of notes to particular poems.

My own response is mixed. As I read poetry, syntax and metre are the bones and muscles that give a poem living shape and make it move. Perhaps it’s Hughes’ … Continue Reading

Frieda Hughes, The Book of Mirrors

To my mind, the most successful poems in The Book of Mirrors were a number of observations of animals towards the end, particularly a group on pheasants. These are on the whole evocative and sharply observed, showing real feeling for the creatures they describe. Another later poem, “February”, expresses the writer’s sense of exhaustion and her yearning for renewal in a way that transcends the merely personal by setting her emotional state in wider contexts of human suffering and seasonal process. There are several dignified and poignant elegies. “Verbal Warning” sends up the absurdity of having so many things that … Continue Reading