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This item is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.

News & Notes
On 25 October the 1996 POETRY INTERNATIONAL is launched in the Purcell Room on the South Bank. The first event is a major one: a reading by Geoffrey Hill, not often heard in public in Britain for a long time. Wole Soyinka is another substantial treat for British audiences. Translation workshops are projected, French poetry is unfashionably (if welcomely) present in the persons of Andrée Chedid and Anne Portugal: there will be a Hungarian evening with George Szirtes and Edwin Morgan, and - inevitably - a Bosnian (or Sarajevo) event. Other writers from around the world are promised, among them Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Tadeus Rosewicz, Eileen Ni Cullihan, Piotr Sommer, and Rutger Kopland (with other Dutch writers). English language writers include Gillian Clarke, John Burnside, Mark Doty, Sharon Olds, Edwin Morgan, four poets 'from the American margins' (L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E? Newrican? Alaskan? Cowboy? - the press release is unhelpful here), and Anne Stevenson, Rita Dove, John Tranter, Fleur Adcock. This is only a fraction of a list which represents the most ambitious week of poetry performances in the calendar. The festival has in recent years become uncompromisingly ambitious and diverse, tactfully managed by the team which has made of the South Bank the poetry performance centre of Britain. Full details are available from the Poetry Library, the South Bank Centre, London.

On 23 May a publisher whose example and assistance were of great value to publishers and poets, REX COLLINGS, died. He was 70. Collings worked for Penguin, Oxford University Press (in Nairobi) and Methuen before setting up his own imprint. His connections with Africa meant that he came to know - and publish - Wole Soyinka, Tony Harrison and many others. It was Collings who took on Watership Down after everyone rejected it, and made it work on an international scale. I recall a Scandinavian publisher years ago at Frankfurt confiding in me: 'I have just bought ze book about ze rabbits.' Collings published Athol Fugard and Léopold Senghor. He was 'one of the outstanding publishers of the postwar era,' the Bookseller rightly declared, and one of the most independent, with a sure eye and sure enthusiasms.

The POETRY LIBRARY itself has been awarded £96,000 by the Lottery to upgrade and update its services and technology. Few libraries can be more responsive to bizarre and difficult inquiries and inquirers than the Poetry Library has been, for years a unique 'national resource' in its collection and its provision of services to users all over the world. Members, schools and casual callers benefit from it. The award 'will make the Poetry Library one of the best equipped specialist libraries in the UK'. There are, we understand, moves afoot to replicate it, on a smaller scale, elsewhere in Britain. Edinburgh already boasts a distinctively Scottish version of it.

PHILIP LARKIN might have felt queasy had he known his letters and life would be laid open to public scrutiny. There is now - ironically, inevitably - a Philip Larkin Society, situated in his adoptive home town, at the Department of American Studies, University of Hull HU6 7RX. 'Ten years after the poet's death seemed a good time to launch "The Philip Larkin Society",' declares the brochure. And in June 1997 an International Conference at Hull will focus on 'New Larkins for Old': this time Dr James Booth of the Department of English is the convener. Plenary speakers include the excellent Professor Barbara Everett and, of course, Larkin's executor Anthony Thwaite. There will be readings by contemporary poets. Suggested subjects for conference papers include 'Larkin's International Impact', 'Post-Imperialism and Post-Colonialism', 'Larkin and Women', 'Modernism and Post-modernism', 'Larkin and the "New Geography'" and 'Larkin and "The Hull Poets"'. It's clearly not easy to determine whether Larkin is an international, national, provincial or parochial phenomenon, but all perspectives are catered for. A paper entitled 'What might Larkin have thought of these proceedings' is not proposed - any more than it is with the Edward Thomas Society. It might be worth considering.

The gallery press, one of lreland's principal poetry publishers, will no longer be distributed in the UK by Password. Individuals interested in Gallery Press publications should write directly to the Press at Loughcrew, Oldcastle, County Meath, Ireland (phone 00353 49 41779).

The Mitchell Library in Glasgow, which houses the largest ROBERT BURNS collection in the world, marks the bi-centenary of the poet's death with a series of celebrations -lectures and other events. Though the programme is - at this stage - half-complete, it may be worth writing to The Arts Department, The Mitchell Library, North Street, Glasgow G3 7DN, for information on what remains. Carcanet will publish Iain Crichton Smith's long poem The Human Face, written in one of Burns's favourite measures, as its, and lain Crichton Smith's, peculiar tribute to the poet.

PAAVO HAAVIKKO, the Finnish poet, won the Nordic Drama Prize for his play Anastasia and I. Haavikko declined to travel to Copenhagen to receive the prize, in implausible protest against what he cantankerously describes as his country's 'machine, information and "oooh aaah" culture'. RISTO RASA won the Eino Leino Poetry Prize.

Books from Finland, a remarkable journal of prose, poetry, news and comment, often referred to in these pages, has survived for twenty years under the wing of Helsinki University Library. It's an anniversary worth marking: the journal remains independent, politically uncompromised, and is a valuable source of news and new work for anyone interested in the complex literatures of Scandinavia.

In the 50th issue of TRANSLATION REVIEW editor Rainer Schulte argues that translation, the most intensive form of reading and the closest kind of criticism, should feature in any core curriculum. It is hard to gainsay him: translation is not only a matter of understanding the dynamics of a foreign text, it involves coming to grips with the range and limitations of the host idiom, personal and tribal. Yet in official REA appraisals of academic performance within universities, we understand that major translations rank below 'scholarly articles in refereed magazines'. (Translations Review, University of Texas at Dallas, Box 83-688 -MC 35, Richardson, TX 75083-0688, IS recommended.)

This item is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.



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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