Frieda Hughes published six children’s books before she finally summoned enough courage to publish her first volume of poetry, Wooroloo (1999). This hesitation is understandable, considering the fact that she is the daughter of two celebrated poets, the British poet Ted Hughes and American poet Sylvia Plath. It was inevitable that Frieda should in some way undergo the influence of two poet-parents: in Wooroloo we hear occasional echoes of Plath, the mother she hardly knew in life (she was three when Plath killed herself), and about whom she learned through stories told by her family and through Plath’s own publications (the poems, and especially the diaries).
In her second collection of verse, Stonepicker (published last year by Bloodaxe Books), she strongly shares her father’s fascination with the merciless character of nature. The poem ‘Silence’ may be read as an allusion to the life of Ted Hughes, who for many years chose not to speak about Plath’s suicide. It was not until 1998, the year of his own death, that he published the impressive collection Birthday Letters, in which he tells the story of his life with the American poetess in the form of a poetic diary. In 2000, the Dutch publishing house of Wagner & Van Santen brought a small selection from her first two books in translation. Frieda Hughes is currently working on a book of poems about prominent figures from English history, whose life stories she tells with a little twist.
[Frieda Hughes took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2002. This text was written on that occasion.]