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This item is taken from PN Review 179, Volume 34 Number 3, January - February 2008.News & Notes
SINEÁD MORRISSEY has been awarded a 2007 Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry, worth $75,000. The fellowship, administered by the Lannan Foundation in the United States, recognises 'distinctive literary merit and potential for continued outstanding work'. Born in 1972 in Northern Ireland, Morrissey grew up in Belfast and holds a PhD from Trinity College, Dublin. A recipient of the Michael Hartnett Award, she has published three poetry collections with Carcanet, the most recent of which, The State of the Prisons, was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize.
Unofficial 'northern laureate' SIMON ARMITAGE has begun a writing residency at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, near Wakefield. Armitage has already written five new poems inspired by artworks on display in the park, which include sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink and others, to be published in the spring. He is also working on a translation from medieval English of the Wakefield Mystery plays, which the park hopes to stage. Visit www.ysp.co.uk for more information.
The French poet YVES BONNEFOY received the 2007 Franz Kafka Prize in Prague in November. The prize is awarded annually by the Prague-based Franz Kafka Society, founded in 1989 to promote the legacy of Kafka and other German-language and Jewish writers from Prague.
At ancient Greek festivals, poets competed alongside athletes in public battles of wit. Two and a half millennia later, a modern version of those ancient jousts has been launched: QuickMuse.com. The website pits a pair of well-known writers against one other, challenging them to create poems inspired by a prescribed topic or image in just fifteen minutes. The results are posted online in both their final form and as a simulation of the poets' writing process. QuickMuse founder Ken Gordon hopes that the website will demystify the process of poetic composition for readers and writers. The process can be revealing: former American Laureate Robert Pinsky makes several 'typos', and Paul Muldoon restarts the same line three times.
The poet, pacifist and man of letters DEREK SAVAGE, who published as D.S. Savage, has died at the age of 90. Savage had his first poem published at sixteen and was a regular contributor to journals during the 1 930s and 1940s, including Horizon, Socialist Review and George Woodcock's Now. He was also a fervent protestor against war, writing his Testament of a Conscientious Objector following his own World War II tribunal, and becoming European editor of the US pacifist quarterly The Phoenix, a role he took over from Henry Miller. Pessimistic by nature, Savage believed that the western world was in a state of moral and cultural disintegration, a sentiment he asserted in his critical study of Woolf and Joyce, The Withered Branch (1950). Savage lived for much of his life in the Cornish village of Mevagissey, where he mixed in a literary circle that included the Scottish poets W.S. Graham and Nessie Dunsmuir.
VERNON SCANNELL, one of the best loved poets of the Second World War and after, has died, aged 85. Born in Lincolnshire in 1922, he grew up in Buckinghamshire, developing youthful interests in literature, music and boxing. During the Second World War Scannell served in the Middle East and was wounded in the D-day landings. He deserted the army in 1945, in the fifth year of his service. Upon his return to England, earning a living as a semi-professional middleweight boxer, Scannell began to write poems. After a spell in a military prison, he won a place to study English at Leeds University, going on to work as a teacher, freelance writer and broadcaster. During the 1950s and 1960s he published several acclaimed collections, including A Mortal Pitch (1957), The Masks of Love (1960) and A Sense of Danger (1962). Fastidiously crafted and traditional in form, his poetry was concerned with love, war and death, and, above all, 'a real involvement with living experience'. Some of his most vivid and frequently anthologised poems are 'Gunpowder Plot' and 'Walking Wounded', the latter of which expresses his haunting memories of war; The Loving Game (1975) is considered his most powerful collection. In 2007 he published two short new collections, A Place to Live (Happy Dragons' Press) and Last Post (Shoestring Press). He was the author of eight novels and several volumes of candid autobiography.
JERZY PETERKIEWICZ, the Polish poet, translator and experimental novelist, has died aged 91. Born in 1916 into a peasant family, he went on to study at Warsaw University, where he began to be recognised as an avant-garde poet. In 1939, when the Germans, and later the Russians, invaded Poland, he was working as literary editor on a daily newspaper. He escaped to France and eventually to England, where he learned English and won a scholarship to the University of St Andrews. He completed his PhD at King's College, London, in 1947, and married the future experimental novelist and critic, Christine Brooke-Rose.
Turning to fiction, Peterkiewicz wrote seven novels which were critically acclaimed. He taught Polish Literature at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, and from 1972 to 1977 at the University of London. He returned to writing poetry and criticism, producing in 1970, with Burns Singer, Five Centuries of Polish Literature. In the late 1970s Peterkiewicz was chosen by a special papal commission to translate the poetry of Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II; his translation of the Pope's collected poems appeared in 1982.
John Lucas, publisher of Shoestring Press, writes: The writer PHILIP CALLOW has died, aged 82. Although best known as a novelist and biographer, Callow was also the author of eleven collections of poems, beginning with Turning Point (1964), which John Fuller described as full of 'good, unbarbered poems'. Callow was a keen admirer of D.H. Lawrence, about whom he wrote a two-volume biography, Son and Lover and Body of Truth. The influence of Walt Whitman, the subject of his brilliant study, From Noon to Starry Night, is also strong, though Callow himself could never see it. Later collections include Bare Wires (1972), New York Insomnia (1976) and Soliloquies of an Eye: a Van Gogh Sequence (1990); Callow, who at one point nurtured ambitions to be a painter, had an intense love of Van Gogh and wrote a critical biography of the artist. In 2000, Shoestring Press published Testimonies: New and Selected Poems, and four years later, Pastoral, the last collection to appear during his lifetime by the writer The North described as 'this brave and fastidious poet'. At the time of his death, Callow left a sizeable number of poems, which it is hoped will form the basis for a memorial collection.
The poets James Michie and Landis Everson have also died; obituaries will appear in the next issue of PN Review.
This item is taken from PN Review 179, Volume 34 Number 3, January - February 2008.