©Caroline Forbes courtesy of Faber & Faber
In 1968 the Festival commissioned Ted Hughes, one of our greatest poets, to write Five Autumn Songs for the children of Little Missenden School to chant at Harvest Festival. Ted came to the children’s performance, and returned to read poems on two later occasions. He published our poems in a private edition, but they were later included by Faber in a collection called Season Songs, and finally in a major Faber retrospective, Ted Hughes Collected Poems for Children, illustrated by Raymond Briggs.
We want to celebrate this piece of Festival history, and all Ted’s work for children should be better known. He valued it greatly, and (with Michael Morpurgo) initiated the post of Children’s Laureate. He strove to find a way of writing for children that energised and stimulated their perceptions without condescending or ‘writing down’. Ted acknowledged that writing our poems was a turning point in this journey.
So we’ve set up two linked events. This afternoon’s readings and discussions dig into our five poems, and into Ted’s children’s poetry in general. We’re very sorry that Carol Hughes is now unavoidably prevented from coming to read to us as planned, but we have Ted’s own recorded voice, and Alan Hedges will read and talk about the poems. As icing on this attractive cake, we’ve asked some of today’s local school children to chant a selection of the poems for us, as their predecessors did in 1968.
The Hughes theme continues this evening in musical form, with specially commissioned settings of the five poems.
Sat 9 Oct 2021 3pm
Little Missenden Village Hall