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Forty-Five: Poemsby Frieda Hughes
Synopses & Reviews
Breaking forty-five years of near-silence on the subject of her life, Frieda Hughes finally opens up through the medium she knows best — poetry. In this extraordinary collection of personal poems, she takes the reader step-by-step through the difficult and inspirational events that defined each year of her life, and which she encapsulates here. We share her pain through her mother's suicide, her fight against bulimia, three marriages, losing her father to cancer, and her stepmother's rejection. In the face of so much grief, she also shares her successes, her loves, and her ultimate triumphs as an accomplished poet and painter. As she grows older, her narrative unfolds to show a complex life beautifully rendered in her poetry.
Hughes is a master of powerful, moving, and vivid language, as seen with the critical success of her past collections, Wooroloo and Waxworks, and never more so than now, as she takes on the topics of life, love, loss, and family. For any lover of poetry or for anyone who wants to know what happened in the life of Frieda Hughes after she so tragically lost her mother, this book is the answer.
"The third effort from Hughes (Waxworks, 2003) is by far the least polished, and the most confessional: the daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath offers one poem for each of the years of her life. Readers of Plath and the elder Hughes may recognize Frieda's parents in the manner of the poems as in the matter. Ted Hughes's autobiographical Birthday Letters may provide fruitful comparisons, though Frieda Hughes looks more often at her own emotions than at others': 'My mother, head in oven, died/ And me, already dead inside.' Even as a child, Frieda reports, 'I longed/ To fill the void in family/ Between father, aunt and brother-love.' Subsequent poems follow her through 'undiagnosed dyslexia' at school, borderline anorexia in her teens ('my fat removal/ A vain attempt to gain approval'), a glamorous but unsatisfying first husband, the dull frustration of jobs in sales and real estate, and the trials of chronic fatigue syndrome. Salvation comes through art school and, finally, through writing itself: 'My poetry was where I hid/ When my father died.' Readers in search of further information about Frieda Hughes's talented parents will find strong sentiments but no surprises; even those who admired this poet's earlier volumes may be taken aback by the artlessness on display." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Overall, they offer up a whining innocence that reeks of pretense; as painful as these memories must have been, the rough-edged emotions have been long ago worn smooth. The writing itself has little to recommend it, but far too many readers are also voyeurs, and library patrons will most likely queue up for it." Library Journal
About the Author
Born in London in 1960, Frieda Hughes is a poet, an award-winning painter, and the author of seven books for children. Her poems have appeared in many leading publications, including, among others, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The London Magazine, The Spectator, The Times, Tatler, Thumbscrew, and Agenda. Her first collection of poetry, Wooroloo, received a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. She is a weekly columnist on the poetry page for The Times of London. She resides in Wales and is married to the painter LÁsz“ Lukacs.
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