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Ted Hughes’s Fishing Map: A Close Read

By Harriet Staff

Today, Granta treats us to a brief letter written by Ted Hughes, explaining the best fishing spots to a photographer friend. Hughes’s prose is accompanied by detailed maps, which, according to poet Simon Armitage, illuminate the writer’s qualities as much as his more literary letters.

Hughes’s maps are old-school, the kind we find in the front of ancient books, drawn with a free hand and free mind. I like the kinks in the road, the candy-floss trees, the curve of the walls across the fields, the toy building blocks of Bondleigh Church, and of course the thick red lines along the banks of the river, where the fishing will be best if the fish ‘feel like it’, like a thermal image revealing a layer of information not available to the naked eye. It speaks of someone not just in touch with the landscape around him but in tune with it, feeling it deeply, and always trying to put that physical response into words.

Read more of Armitage’s analysis and see the original maps at Granta.

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Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.