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This item is taken from PN Review 241, Volume 44 Number 5, May - June 2018.

News & Notes
Lucie Brock-Broido · The eccentric, brittle, reclusive American poet Lucie Brock-Broido died in March at the age of sixty-one. She avoided ‘the real world’ and in her poetry created a world in some respects more vertiginous and unaccountable than the world she side-stepped. Stanley Kunitz noted her ‘taste for the fantastic’ and her ‘brilliant nervosity’, a wonderfully accurate and unexpected term for a certain kind of fearful, trembling, attent alertness. She described her own style as ‘feral’.

She published four books of poems which add up to a coherent oeuvre; there is a sense of a writer going deeper rather than forward, in the manner of her beloved Emily Dickinson whose example loomed large for her, especially in her second book, The Master Letters. Despite an instinct for reclusiveness, she was a Director of Poetry in the School of the Arts at Columbia University and taught previously at Harvard, the Bennington Writing Seminars and Princeton. She received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Deborah Garrison, Brock-Broido’s editor at Knopf, told the New York Times in an email: ‘she went deeper into herself, into grief, and into the hard work of growing older’. Her poem ‘Two Girls Ago’, a resonant sequel to ‘A Girl Ago’, from Stay, Illusion (Knopf, 2013) suggests a tense survival:

No exquisite instruments.
No dead coming back as wrens in rooms at dawn.
No suicidal hankering; no hankering for suicide.
No one thousand days.
No slim luck for the only President I ever loved.
No lukewarm bath in oatmeal.
No lantern left for Natalie on the way home from school in her
Alaskan dark.
No eye.
No Victorian slippers that walked the bogs to moor.
No Donner bones with cuts on them or not.
No horizontal weeping; no weeping vertically.
No flipping back your black tails at the black piano bench.
No Elgar, no Tallis, no post-industrial despair.
No French kissing in the field of wild raspberry and thorn.
No commissioned urn.
No threat. In the table of contents I’m not dead yet.

Zbigniew Herbert Literary Award ·  On 5 March it was announced that the Gaelic poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill had been awarded the 2018 Zbigniew Herbert International Literary Award for 2018, the first woman to be so honoured. She was characterised as ‘a female hero’ of a ‘small language’. The chairman of the judges, the American poet Ed Hirsch, declared: ‘We have chosen a ground-breaking and courageous poet who is both local and international, a poet, who has helped to sustain and remake her language.’ The judging panel, truly international, includes also Yurii Andrukhovych (Ukraine), Michael Krüger (Germany), Mercedes Montana (Spain) and Tomas Różycki (Poland). The award has been presented since 2013, commemorating the great Polish poet and essayist, and previous recipients include the Americans W.S. Merwin and Charles Simic, the Pole Ryszard Krynicki, the Swede Lars Gustafsson and the South African and French citizen Breyten Breytenbach.


Raymond Danowski · A curious obituary in the New York Times introduced readers to Raymond Danowski, dead at seventy-four, described as a ‘stockpiler of poetry’, whose personal collection of tens of thousands of volumes was donated to the Emory University, Georgia and formed the basis of its remarkable collection and archive of modern poetry. ‘Reading,’ says the New York Times, ‘was the lifeline that enabled Raymond Danowski to escape the smothering grip of a Bronx public housing project and an abusive father, so when Mr Danowski grew older, both rhyme and reason prompted him to stockpile books of poetry voraciously.’ His library reached seventy-five  thousand volumes. It lived for a time in Hertfordshire, then in London and Geneva, and finally, in 2004, it arrived at Emory ‘cramm[ed] into four boxcar-size shipping containers’. There they are known collectively as the ‘Raymond Danowski Poetry Library’. ‘He was introduced to poetry by two uncles,’ said the Times, ‘one an aspiring actor who flamboyantly performed Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” at home, and another whose English bookie mailed him poems by W.H. Auden. (Mr Danowski ultimately collected about a thousand volumes of Auden’s works.)’ Why Emory? ‘Because it was expanding its poetry archive (since 1975 it had acquired the papers of Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes) and agreed to make Mr Danowski’s “bibliotheque imaginaire” available not only to scholars but also to undergraduates.’


Wu Ming-yi · Late in March, the Taiwanese writer Wu Ming-yi was shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize. On the Man Booker website, the judges (or site editors) re-named his country ‘Taiwan, China’, occasioning a protest from the author and his publishers. The change was made without reference to him. His book The Stolen Bicycle was one of thirteen novels shortlisted. ‘Over the past few months,’ the Central News Agency reported, ‘pressure from China caused name changes for Taiwan on the web sites of overseas institutions from hotels and airlines to the Swedish tax authorities.’ It was announced early in April that the Man Booker website had been amended and the novelist returned to Taiwan proper.

This item is taken from PN Review 241, Volume 44 Number 5, May - June 2018.



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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