A one-day Poetry Festival focusing on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes held at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on 9th June 2018, gained highly favourable reviews.   

One younger attender wrote on Facebook: “I attended an amazing Poetry Day at Padiham Unitarian Chapel on Saturday, it was fantastic … with two amazing speakers and a wonderful poetry workshop to finish with.”   Another present wrote in thanks afterwards to say that she’d: ‘thoroughly enjoyed the day … revisiting Ted Hughes and being introduced to Sylvia Plath’.

The day began with poet and teacher Theresa Sowerby tackling the theme: ‘Sylvia Plath – Beyond Confession’, in a lecture with readings.   She took the audience through the often shocking earlier poetry of Plath, to the transformative imagery of her later work.  

After a lunch with hot soup, writer and teacher Edmund Prestwich spoke on ‘Torn Richness – the poetry of Ted Hughes’, again with readings.   Looking at poems from different stages of Hughes’ life, he explored the extraordinary emotional range of Hughes’ ‘response to life’. 

Finally, a workshop gave attenders a chance to write in the style of the poets.  This was expertly run by our two speakers, and proved highly enjoyable.

This fourth annual poetry festival at Padiham Unitarian Chapel was organised by the Lancashire Collaborative Ministry, and was filmed for the Internet by UK Unitarian TV*.   About 35 people attended.   The minister at the Chapel, the Rev Jim Corrigall, commented: ‘Although attendance was not as high as at some of our previous poetry festivals, it was a most successful day.’ 

This year 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of the former Poet Laureate Ted Hughes, and the 55th anniversary of the suicide of Sylvia Plath.  Both poets have connections to the West Riding area of Yorkshire (just across the Lancashire border), with American-born Sylvia Plath’s grave lying in Heptonstall churchyard.


·          Both lectures of this ‘Poetry Festival of the North, 2018’, are now available to view by selecting ‘Talks’ on the website: http://www.ukunitarians.org.uk/tv/