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

This item is taken from PN Review 142, Volume 28 Number 2, November - December 2001.

News & Notes
ALLEN CURNOW ONZ, OBE, Queen's Gold Medalist in Poetry, and one of New Zealand's great twentieth-century writers, died in Auckland on 23 September at the age of ninety one.

Curnow trained for the Anglican ministry from 1931 to 1933, but was deflected from the church, becoming instead a journalist. A grant took him to London, where he worked on the News Chronicle and broadcast occasionally for the BBC. Returning home, he fell into academia, joining the staff of the English Department at the University of Auckland. He emerged into retirement a quarter of a century later as Associate Professor. He still had another career ahead of him: that of poet pure and simple.

In the last seven decades Curnow has published twenty volumes of poetry, his most recent, The Bells of St Babel's, published in Britain in September. He was a dramatist, a defining critic, and an anthologist who did much to present New Zealand poetry to the Anglophone world, especially with The Penguin Book of New Zealand Verse (1960).

Curnow never could quite settle into an orthodoxy of faith, faithlessness, prosody or form. There was always maybe another, better method to move forward in language. What marks most of the poems he stood by in his landmark Selected Poems, Early Days Yet, is celebration, of the human and natural worlds. A humane optimism which marks even his satires. He is angry less out of a sense that man is fallen than that he ought to have the strength and will to rise. He remembers what language must do and what it can do in verse.

The late poems spend their time in retrospection, a return journey to the first years, not with nostalgia but firm memory: places are because they were. But he never releases his hold on the present. Peter Porter describes Curnow as a 'modern master'. 'He has been a major voice at every stage of his career,' writes the poet C.K. Stead, 'knowing what he is about, moving at his own pace, inventive, unpredictable, writing poetry which strikes me, as it has done serially over the years, as unsurpassed by the work of any other poet at present writing in English.'
[MS]


JULIE O'CALLAGHAN is the winner of the Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award 2001, for her volume No Can Do (Bloodaxe). Awarded to a poet in 'mid-career', the prize of £5000 was presented at the opening of Éigse Michael Hartnett on Friday 14 September in Hartnett's home town of Newcastle West, Co. Limerick. The prize is funded jointly by Limerick County Council and The Arts Council of Ireland and is awarded in alternate years to collections of poetry in English and Irish.

The Forward Prizes 2001 were announced on the eve of National Poetry Day at Waterstone's Piccadilly in London. Winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection was Sean O'Brien with Downriver (Picador). O'Brien is the first poet to win the prize twice in its ten year history. The winner of the Waterstone's Prize for Best First Collection was John Stammers for Panoramic Lounge Bar (Picador), and the Tolman Cunard Prize for Best Single Poem went to Ian Duhig for 'The Lammas Hireling', the poem that made him the first poet to win the National Poetry Competition outright twice.

The Irish Times Literature Prizes short lists have been announced. The prize for poetry will be decided between Michael Longley (The Weather in Japan, Cape), Richard Murphy (Collected Poems, Gallery) and Denis O'Driscoll (Weather Permitting, Anvil). The International Fiction Prize contenders are Ha Jin for Waiting (Vintage), Denis Johnson for The Name of the World (HarCol), Michael Ondaatje for Anil's Ghost (Bloomsbury) and Philip Roth for The Human Stain (Cape).

After twenty two years at the helm, MIKE SHIELDS is to quit the editorship of Orbis magazine after one final issue this November. Almost entirely unassisted by grant aid, the magazine has published high quality poetry and prose in the face of great tribulation (and competition). The magazine's final issue (Number 120) will be an 'all-singing, all-dancing finale' packed with new poetry. Published as an outsize edition, it will cost £10 and can be ordered from Orbis at 27 Valley View, Primrose, Jarrow, Tyne and Wear, NE32 5QT (email MikeShields@CompuServe.com or call +44 (0) 191 489 7055).

The fifteenth anniversary of Poems on the Underground will be celebrated at the Conway Hall on Saturday 13 October at 7.30pm. There will be a reading by Jean 'Binta' Breeze and a recital from the soprano Lorna Anderson. Further information from 020 7485 1930.

DAVID YEZZI has been named Director of the 92nd Street Y Unterberg Poetry Center in New York. Poet, critic and actor, Yezzi has also been an Associate Editor of Parnassus: Poetry in Review and a is a former chief administrator of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University. He succeeds the poet Karl Kirchwey and alongside Hanna Arie-Gaifman, the Director of the 92nd Street Tisch Center for the Arts, will expand the centre's multidisciplinary tradition, programming events that blend music, drama and literature. The Unterberg Poetry Center has supported American poets for over sixty years and has run a programme of events featuring international writers for the whole period. Since Dylan Thomas' legendary performance of Under Milk Wood in 1953, the centre has specialised in theatrical adaptations of literary texts.

The excellent Books from Finland quarterly for Autumn 2001 has arrived in our offices. Containing an interview with the novelist Ulla-Lena Lundberg (and an extract from her novel The Marzipan Soldier) as well as poems from Eva-Stina Byggmästar and Markku Paasonen (translated by David McDuff and Hildi Hawkins respectively) and articles on travel literature and history, the magazine is a delight from start to finish (no pun intended). The December issue promises a short story for adults from the recently deceased Tove Jansson and a reassessment of the poet Katri Vala. Information from www.lib.helsinki.fi/bff or contact the magazine at Books from Finland/Helsinki University Library, P.O. Box 15 (Unioninkatu 36), FIN-00014, University of Helsinki, Finland. Poetry Scotland is now online at www.poetryscotland. co.uk. Celebrating its eighteenth edition, Poetry Scotland 18 includes work by Paul McCartney, Hamish Whyte, Tom Leonard, Tessa Ransford, Frank Kuppner and Gael Turnbull.

Leviathan Quarterly is a new magazine for literature, ideas and the arts edited by Michael Hulse. The first edition was published in September, costs £5.95 and features fiction by Christopher Burns and Drew Milne; poetry by Alfred Brendel, Michael Donaghy and Anthony Hecht; criticism by David Wheatley and Chris Miller; Peter Handke on headgear in Skopje and more. Future planned editions include a symposium on the position of Christianity in European culture (December 2001) and a joint number with Poetry International Rotterdam in June 2002. Enquiries to and subscription details from Leviathan Quarterly, Bears Hay Farm, Brookhay Lane, Fradley, Lichfield, WS13 8RG.

News & Notes compiled by CHRIS GRIBBLE.

This item is taken from PN Review 142, Volume 28 Number 2, November - December 2001.



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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