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This item is taken from PN Review 108, Volume 22 Number 4, March - April 1996.

News & Notes
The deaths of NORMAN MACCAIG and JOSEPH BRODSKY were reported while this number of PN Review was in preparation; fuller obituary notices will appear in PNR109.

CHARLES MADGE, who died in January at the age of 84, was the last survivor of a distinguished and neglected generation, that of Humphrey Jennings, Tom Harrisson and the activists who devised Mass-Observation (he was the prime mover but, always diffident, stood back from his achievements). Born in South Africa, he came to Britain after his father's death in World War 1, became a poet and fell under the influence of I.A. Richards whose 'practical criticism' contributed to the ideology and the techniques of Mass-Observation, years before Gallup appeared on the scene. Surrealism, Kathleen Raine (his first wife) and other major forces of the 1930s shaped his writing, and in later years he was claimed by the social sciences and his poetry ceased. Anvil Press published Of Love, Time and Places, a collected poems, in 1994. The poetry evinces the experimentalism and the awkward diffidence of the man.

In Toledo, where in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries a translation school existed to bring Arabic and Hebrew texts into Latin, a new School of Translation, funded lavishly by the European Cultural Foundation. will open this spring in the sumptuously restored palace of 'el rey Don Pedro' in the old city. Initially the chief purpose will be the collaborative translation of Arabic texts into the languages of Europe. Plus &ccidel;a change.

Despite an overall cut in Arts Council funding this year, highlighted effectively by Lord Gowrie who has fought hard against what seems to be an attempt to penalise the Arts in the light of the Lottery's dubious largess, Literature has managed to preserve its modest slice of the cake more or less intact.

Thanks to the National Lottery, the Poetry Society is transforming its narrow headquarters in Covent Garden, London into a POETRY CAFÉ. Patrons, who range from Epic (£1000) to Haiku (£150), can affix their names and logos to tables and chairs and enjoy benefits of various promotional kinds. It is envisaged that the Cafe, which may offer rather superior fare, will be a venue for launches and a further source of revenue for the Society.

There will be a conference on the poetry of ELIZABETH BISHOP and JOHN ASHBERY at the University of Reading from 15 to 17 July. The linking of the two poets' work is not so very strange: Ashbery's love of Bishop's poetry is well known, and by setting the two writers side by side the complex dynamics of American writing in this half of the century will be illuminated. Speakers include Thomas Trevisano, Bonnie Costello, Joanne Fletdiehl, Geoff Ward and Edward Larrissy. Enquiries to: Lionel Kelly, Department of English, University of Reading, Whiteknights, P.O. Box 218, Reading RG6 6AA.

The THOMAS LOVELL BEDDOES SOCIETY celebrates its first year of life by publishing A Skeleton Key to Death's Jest-Book by Alan Halsey (40pp, £3 including p&p). In this short study Halsey sets the Jest-Book in the context of Beddoes's strange life and thought, exploring the themes of late Romanticism and the attempt to revive English drama. Information about the Society, and copies of the book, are available from John Lovell Beddoes, 11 LaundNook, Belper, Derbyshire DE561GY.

SWARTHMOOR! is an attractive anthology compiled by Maggie Norton to help raise funds for the restoration of Swarthmoor Hall, the seventeenth-century manor house near Ulverston, Cumbria, where George Fox took refuge dUring a preaching tour in 1652 and began what we now know as the Quaker movement. Swarthmoor! includes poems by Elizabeth Bewick, Martyn Crucefix, Neil Curry, U.A. Fanthorpe, Phoebe Hesketh, Laurence Lerner, Grevel Lindop, Norman Nicholson, Gael Turnbull and others. The book is available by post at £5.55 from Maggie Norton, 12 Townbank Road, Ulverston, Cumbria LA12 7DN.

Michael Mackmin, editor of The Rialto, provides an interim valediction in issue 33, declaring that he is going to ground. Why? Because he has discovered various evils in our environment and in our historical world, in particular the Holocaust. In the light - or darkness - of this discovery he finds himself disappointed and disaffected with 'the current poetic', its failure to address 'the universal', its self-centredness, its avoidance of 'a higher seriousness': 'It rattles on at most on a level of selling pickled sharks to capitalists, or presenting the madonna as a sectioned cow.' Quite apart from the fact that the examples he draws seem to be more from the area of the Turner than the Forward Prize, his response is not, as he allows, simplistic, but reductive in the extreme, and not only in relation to British poetry. It is sad to see so doughty an editor making his perhaps temporary exit on such doubtful and hectoring grounds. The poets whose work he cham pions in this issue, Enzensberger, Brock, Stainer and Fainlight among them, may feel themselves sold short by Mackmin's doleful recantation.

The 1996 programe of Creative Arts Courses at the Indian King Arts Centre, Fore Street, Camelford, Cornwall PL32 9PG has been published, and there are some suggestive weekends planned, including D.M. Thomas on Eros and the Psyche, Harry Guest's Haiku Weekend and a Translation Weekend, Paul Hyland on Travel, and sessions on writing for radio and television.

This item is taken from PN Review 108, Volume 22 Number 4, March - April 1996.

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