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This item is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.

News & Notes
Richard Howard • has received the Paris Review’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to literature. His sixteen collections of poetry include Untitled Subjects, which received the 1970 Pulitzer Prize. His translations introduced Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, and E.M. Cioran to Anglophone readers. His Baudelaire Les fleurs du mal won a National Book Award in 1983; and more recently the later novels of Guy de Maupassant have occupied him. It is appropriate that the Paris Review recognise in this fashion their one-time poetry editor (1992–2005) and Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite.

Ida Vitale • the Uruguayan writer, now ninety-two years old, received the 2016 Federico García Lorca International Prize of the City of Granada, and suggested to the judges that part of the prize was for her industrious persistence. ‘Spain has been very generous to me, but this feels like almost too much,’ she said, having last year won the Queen Sofia Prize, and the year before the Alfonso Reyes Prize in Mexico. Born in Montevideo (birthplace of Laforgue, Supervielle and many other poets) in 1923, she has been at the heart of Uruguayan and Latin American poetry for several generations.

She admitted that she found the award of this year’s Nobel Prize for literature to Bob Dylan ‘strange’. ‘If they were considering specifically that conjunction of words and music, there would be many Latin American candidates.’ She suggested the Chilean Violeta Parra. But she does not endorse the conjunction of words and music in the context of a major literary award. Of course the two arts go hand in hand and sometimes combine – what better example than Lorca himself – but she adds, ‘Poetry is not so successfully protected a species as to leave it exposed. Poetry prizes are for poets, not song-writers, just as awards for architecture are not given to painters. Breaking with tradition is fine, but it’s not always the best way forward.’ Yo Zushi writing in the New Statesman (14 October) was less charitable to the judges, more mordant. He follows Dylan’s prize history from 1963 when he gracelessly accepted the Tom Paine Award from the National Emergency Civil Liberty’s Committee, expressing sympathy for Lee Harvey Oswald (John Kennedy had been assassinated in the same year). He has accumulated prizes, ‘Grammies, the Polar Music Prize, an Oscar, the MusiCares Person of the Year Award, among others. Dylan likes awards. Unlike Sartre, he doesn’t worry about becoming an institution, or how it might inhibit his creativity. After his endlessly beguiling minor-key stomper “Things Have Changed” won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2001, he started displaying the gold statuette onstage at gigs, seemingly glued on top of an amp.’ Yo Zushi quotes Irvine Welsh, who condemned the Nobel Committee’s decision ‘as one that was “wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies”’. But Yo Zushi is not quite so unkind. He is in fact a fan, and he disapproves of the award as a fan. ‘As he once said himself, he is above all else a “song and dance man”. He dabbled in poetry and bashed out a sort of novel in the late sixties called Tarantula, which was fun but only gestured towards what he could do onstage or in a recording studio. That wasn’t enough for him and, even as a fan, those experiments aren’t enough for me. I suspect that many of those who fixate on his words scour his songs as texts, looking for poetry in conventional terms at the expense of the performance. (I won’t name names, but you know who you are.) I wonder whether they hear the music at all, and the voice at the centre of it. The irony is that what poetry exists on Dylan’s records is largely to be found in the sound of the words, not their meaning. Music – no, Dylan’s version of music – alchemises those lyrics into great art. He’s a great singer. His genius is in that sand and glue.’

Rodolfo Hinostroza • The celebrated Peruvian cook, astrologer and poet of the radical 1960s generation Rodolfo Hinostroza (1941–2016) has died in Lima. He set out to study medicine but poetry sidetracked him and he changed course and courses at university, receiving a scholarship to study English literature in Cuba (before the Revolution). He became a significant innovator in Peruvian writing, spending some years in France as a translator and broadcaster. He wrote a novel, also, and was an essayist, story-writer and dramatist.

Lucia Perillo • a poet who lived with multiple sclerosis since 1988 and was much concerned with death, died on 16 October at the age of fifty-eight. Her publisher, the increasingly legendary Copper Canyon Press, announced the news. Earlier in 2016 her collection Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones was highly praised by reviewers. Her ‘shrewd, well-organized free verse’, the New York Times said, ‘marches straight down the page while its meanings peel off in multiple directions’. In 2000, as a MacArthur Foundation fellowship recipient, she was praised by the poet Rodney Jones in the Chicago Tribune: ‘Her goal is lucidity. She does not like the idea of writing a poem that people cannot understand.’

David Antin • On 11 October the poet and performance artist David Antin, known for his ‘talk poems’, extemporized narratives and reflections, and celebrated by some critics, in particular Marjorie Perloff, died in La Jolla, California. He was eighty-four. It was in the 1970s that Antin began to evolve his characteristic form combining a kind of poetry, narrative and reflective essay, recording these performed pieces, transcribing and editing them. His first collection in this mode, called simply Talking (1972), was followed by Talking at the Boundaries (1976), Tuning (1984) and What It Means to Be Avant-Garde (1993). A vivid conversationalist, he remained a controversial figure due to the form of composition he practsced and the formatting of his work when it settled on the page. At sixteen he was drawn to the work of Gertrude Stein, and his practice might be seen as living out a direction suggested by her later work. He studied as a linguist and worked as a translator from German and Russian. He was a founder of the Chelsea Review where he was exposed to the work of Laura Riding Jackson. He wrote about the arts, early on considering Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt and Roy Lichtenstein among others, and his best essays are collected in Radical Coherency (2011). He taught in the visual arts department of the University of California at San Diego for three decades.

Mexico • On 17 October at the marbled Palace of Fine Arts in Mexico City, before its celebrated enormous Tiffany-glass ‘curtain’ portraying the volcanoes Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, the inaugural world conference of poetry by ‘indigenous peoples’, ‘Voces de Colores para la Madre Tierra’, was declared open. It lasted for a week, with readings and encounters at spectacular and historic venues all around the city. The pre-eminent translator of indigenous Mexican (especially Nahuatl) poetry, the nonagenarian anthropologist, historian and linguist Miguel León-Portilla, welcomed delegates drawn from communities in Colombia, Norway, Argentina, Sweden, Finland, Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, New Zealand, and Mexico itself. The delegates were for the most part poets who compose in the original languages of those countries, as well as sundry ambassadors and members of the Mexican literary community.

The initiative began in 2014 at the celebrated Medellín International Poetry Festival, in Colombia. Mexican writers took up the challenge in what may become an annual gathering. A future conference might add Welsh, Scots Gaelic and Irish (and perhaps Cornish and Manx if poets and funding can be found), as well as African and Asian languages, to the rich Babel of tongues including Náhuatl, Mazateco and Ñuu Savi from Mexico; Quechua from Peru; Sami from Norway, Finland and Sweden; Mapuche from Argentina; Wayuu and Camëntsá from Colombia; and Maorí from New Zealand.

This item is taken from PN Review 233, Volume 43 Number 3, January - February 2017.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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