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This item is taken from PN Review 145, Volume 28 Number 5, May - June 2002.

News & Notes
Manchester's Literatures of the Commonwealth Festival, organised by the Manchester Metropolitan University Writing School in association with Carcanet Press, begins on 17 June at 1pm, with Andrew Motion in conversation with Michael Schmidt. Cherie Blair will speak at a Gala dinner that evening, and events continue throughout the week, culminating with a Gala reading by Paul Muldoon, Simon Armitage, Ruth Padel and Jackie Kay. Highlights of the festival include appearances by Margaret Atwood, Doris Lessing, Sue Townsend, Jane Rogers, Tariq Ali, Les Murray, Sujata Bhatt, Nadine Gordimer, Elaine Feinstein and David Dabydeen. For further details, and to book places call 0870 787 0037 or email

The Poetry Society revealed in a shock announcement at the end of March that their website has been hijacked by a Hong Kong company called Ultimate Search. The company are using the domain as a base for online gambling and for selling remedies for hair loss, and the Poetry Society's extensive site has been deleted from that address. It is thought that the Poetry Society may have been late in renewing its domain name registration, and that the Hong Kong company took it over in order to take advantage of the Society's 300,000 hits a month. The site has now been reconstructed, and is accessible at the Poetry Society's new website,

PN Review congratulates SINÉAD MORRISEY, whose second collection, Between Here and There was awarded the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award on 24 March. The judges of this year's Forward Prize are Michael Donaghy, Rosie Millard, Lavinia Greenlaw, Peter Stothard and Sean O'Brien. A shortlist for each category is to be announced in July and the results will be publicised on 2 October.

Work is beginning at the British Library to make The Canterbury Tales available in electronic form. The project is expected to take up to six months to complete.

The winner of the International Impac Dublin Literary Award is to be announced on 13 May. The prize, which at E100,000, is the biggest prize for literary fiction in the world, is to be presented at a dinner in Dublin Castle on 15 June. The shortlist includes Margaret Atwood for The Blind Assassin, Peter Carey for The True History of the Kelly Gang, Michael Collins for The Keeper of the Truth, Carlos Fuentes for The Years with Laura Diaz, Helen DeWitt for The Last Samurai, Michel Houellebecq for Atomised and Antoni Libera for Madame.

The European Poetry Translation Prize, previously funded by the Arts Council has been discontinued. The Poetry Society hope to revive the prize at a later date.

The John Rylands Library in Manchester is hosting an exhibition to coincide with the Commonwealth Games and the Literature of the Commonwealth Festival. The Wide Map of Poetry: A Commonwealth Celebration, which focuses on Carcanet's Commonwealth authors, begins on 25 May and runs until 19 September. Entry is free. The Rylands library holds Carcanet's archive as well as a great deal of important literary material from around the world, including letters from Elizabeth Gaskell and Charlotte Bronte.

A retrospective of the works of BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI, including some previously unshown films, will be shown at the Barbican Cinema in London on 21 May, in association with the Italian Cultural Institute. For more information, contact the Box Office on 020 7 638 8891. The Institute is also supporting an exhibition of the work of Gió Ponti, one of Italy's most important architect-designers, which begins at the Design Museum in London on 3 May and runs until October. For more information, contact the museum on 020 7 940 8790.

'Spirit of Greatness', a Poetry Library Exhibition featuring the work of contemporary writers from Dumfries and Galloway is due to open at the Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall, London, on 14 May. Writers previously associated with the area include Robert Burns, Hugh MacDiarmid and J.M. Barrie. The exhibition closes on 30 June and admission is free.

The Preston Writers Guild announce their 8th open poetry competition. Four prizes, including a first prize of £100, are available. Poems should be 32 lines or less and should be submitted by 31 August, accompanied by a £2 entry fee. For more information, send an SAE to The Competitions Secretary, 24 Oak Tree Avenue, Leyland, Preston, Lancashire, PR25 5PJ.

Deaths Noted

The Scottish poet HAMISH HENDERSON has died, aged eighty-two. Henderson, who founded the Institute for Scottish Studies at Edinburgh University, was born in Perthshire in 1919 and educated at Dulwich College and at Cambridge. He joined up at the beginning of the Second World War, and travelled widely during his service, during which he wrote his first book, Ballads of World War II: A Collection of Songs in Five Languages. He persistently campaigned for Scottish independence as well as for a variety of other political causes, and became famous as a speaker and singer at rallies, where the crowds invariably supported him with enthusiasm. He was instrumental in establishing the Edinburgh Fringe festival in the early 1950s. His books include Elegies for the Dead in Cyrenaica (winner of the 1949 Somerset Maugham Award), March for John McLean, Seven Men of Knoydart, and The Armstrong Nose as well as his collection of essays, Alias MacAlias.

FIELDING DAWSON died in New York on 5 January at the age of seventy-one. Dawson, who grew up in Missouri and published a memoir of his time there, Tiger Lilies: an American Childhood, in 1984, became known as a poet and writer of fiction during the 1960s and became chairman of the PEN Prison Writing Committee in 1990. His books include Thread (1964), An Emotional Memoir of Franz Kline (1967) and The Land of Milk and Honey (2001).

As one or two errors entered Michael Hamburger's piece on W.G. Sebald in our last issue, we run it again at its full length here:

W.G. Sebald

Still stunned by his sudden death, I can't write anything as public as an obituary for W.G. Sebald the author, or Max, my friend. Nor would he have wished me to, knowing that I've dropped out of literary criticism and never wrote about his books in his lifetime, beyond a little note attached to an extract from my translation of his long poem After Nature. That he was a writer unlike any other, therefore irreplaceable, was generally and internationally recognised ever since the publication of his unclassifiable prose works, if not that of the earlier 'elemental poem', as he called it, just as unclassifiable, in 1988. A proof of the English version of that poem with the virtues of his prose was in the post to him and me for a last revision at the moment of his death; and on top of a pile of unopened mail on a table in his house I saw the letter I'd written to make arrangements for this joint finalisation of the text.

That was after his funeral service in a little Norman church within walking distance of his house. The service was Anglican, as brief and unceremonious as he had wished it to be, and as private, confined to his family and a few invited friends. There, too, nothing was said about his eminence as a writer or teacher. No hymns were sung only two Schubert songs, unaccompanied, by his brother-in-law, a secular song and the 'Ave Maria'. After the service and burial, at his house, an artist friend from Alsace read out some of his last brief poems, those about death by allusion, ellipsis and sardonic understatement the humour that made this collector of existential extremities accessible to more British readers than he is likely to have had without it or without the sharp, loving eye for seemingly trivial minutiae so rarely combined with a panoptic, visionary momentum, as in him.

In all his works, not excluding the studies, not yet translated, of writers mainly Austrian or Alemannic, Max wrote as a voluntary immigrant, as much at home in his adopted country or anywhere as in his peripherally German native region, to which he remained attached by biographical and family not national ties. The little Norman church, of course, had been Roman Catholic before it was Anglican. The house he had made his home was a former rectory. His last resting-place, therefore, accords as well as any other that could have been chosen with Max's peripatetic writings and the magnanimous imagination, sympathies, affinities and curiosities from which they sprang. So did the unceremoniousness and privacy of his exit.

What no one present at his funeral will yet be able to accept or understand is its suddenness, the abrupt termination of a life and work so intricately rich that it seemed to call for a long continuation. Max may have known better, as his minimal last poems suggest. There was so much he knew at which he only hinted, so much that can never be told.

News & Notes is compiled by SARAH RIGBY

This item is taken from PN Review 145, Volume 28 Number 5, May - June 2002.

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