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This report is taken from PN Review 109, Volume 22 Number 5, May - June 1996.

Letter from Ireland David Wheatley

Memory may be the mother of invention but forgetfulness, as Dennis O'Driscoll recently observed, is more usually the father of the literary magazine. The legendary Miron Grindea of Adam Intemational Review died last November in London, leaving only a handful of titles to hold the line for the sort of magazine culture of which he was an anachronistic survival - the great tradition of the old Nouvelle Revue Fran(Caise, The Criterion and Horizon. Innumerable Irish magazines have come and gone, puttering into a biodegradable afterlife in attics or secondhand bookshops; those that last long enough to make a genuine impact are few. The Honest Ulsterman, founded by James Simmons in 1968, is one such, and recently reached its milestone hundredth issue. A skim through the author index compiled by editor Tom Clyde for the first ninety-nine issues reveals the basis of the magazine's longevity and continued appeal: a loyal contributor base of both Ulster writers and others (with Gavin Ewart, Carol Rumens, Harry Clifton and Ian Duhig all longtime supporters), a plucky amateur bias and a stand for old-style belles lettres exemplified by the columns of' Jude the Obscure', a selection of which have been reprinted, but most importantly the knack of turning up anthology-standard poems on a regular basis. If its current batch of younger poets does not quite set the pulse racing as did the generation of '68 and the magazine is badly in need of a face-lift, the continuities it has stood for nevertheless deserve gratitude and admiration (Honest Ulsterman, £10 for four issues, 103 Strandburn Drive, Belfast ...

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