Towards a poetics of field theatre: situated acts of poem-making in the work of Ted Hughes

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Ted Hughes’ poems in Moortown Diary log experience of farming in North Devon in the 1970s. They were written during or shortly after the encounters that prompted them, remaining largely unaltered. Statements and letters lay bare his method’s situated acts of experience giving rise to impulses. This essay considers how such situated acts constitute a theatre-site of writing which opens and remains live towards acts of reading. It contrasts a letter written by Hughes four years before writing the poem ‘Coming Down through Somerset’, suggesting the former is a dress rehearsal and beginning of continuous duration which includes the writing of the final poem. And it considers how such situated acts stage theatre inside performance; James Hart’s idea of ‘rumour’ generating audiences through hearsay; Beatrice Fraenkel’s concept of ‘written speech acts’ as texts which include readers in acts of writing, being crucial propositions. Peter Brook, Grotowski, Wordsworth’s ‘spots of time’, Coleridge’s site poems, support a suggestion that live situated acts of writing intend an experience which gives rise to trace texts that await their readers’ participation. A simple architectural model is drawn: a studio-theatre in which writer and reader can, by a Proustian treatment of time, be simultaneously present.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-280
Number of pages16
JournalNew Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing
Issue number3
Early online date29 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Mar 2019


  • Writing, poetry, creativity, critical reading, authorship

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