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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 153, Volume 30 Number 1, September - October 2003.

News & Notes
JOYCE NIELD, with whom every contributor to PN Review and many readers over the last dozen years had become familiar, died suddenly in June at the age of 53. Joyce was the Finance Director of Carcanet Press and PN Review; she was also the Deputy Managing Director of the enterprise and in her role as `the numerate one' she helped to mastermind and oversee PN Review Online. Her first commitment was to authors and contributors, and she made sure even at pinched times that the magazine's always modest payment to contributors was punctually dispatched. She was very close to certain writers, in particular Elizabeth Jennings, whom she helped through several difficult times. Though not a 'poetry person' (she was a scientist by inclination), she read widely in the magazine and surprised contributors with her informed response. She was a warmhearted and spirited colleague, a key player in a very small team. One contributor called her `the unwobbling pivot', and the Poundian/Confucian epithet stuck.

Because of her enormous contribution (as co-director) to the Literatures of the Commonwealth Festival of 2002, with its legacy of scholarships for Commonwealth students coming to study at Manchester Metropolitan University's Writing School, it was decided that the scholarships be named after her, and a major Trust donated a further £10,000 to the fund in her memory.


PN Review is also much the poorer for the death of a valued contributor and a fine poet and critic whose work was recently celebrated in these pages. F.T. PRINCE, has died at the age of ninety. Born in South Africa, Frank Templeton Prince was a profoundly English spirit whose poetry was always experimenting. `Soldiers Bathing' is his most famous poem, one of the celebrated imaginative responses to the Second World War. It is not necessarily his best.

Faber published him first, in 1938: T.S. Eliot was his editor. The work was sophisticated, urbane, classical, under-stated; there was a quality in the understatement that was new and unsettling. The War began in the year of his first publication and he served for six years in army intelligence in the Middle East, Italy and elsewhere. After the war he taught at Southampton University. Anthony Howell, writing in the Guardian, remarked on how, in recent decades, Prince `has come to be regarded by writers as diverse as Geoffrey Hill and the American innovator John Ashbery as one of the most significant poets of the twentieth century'. His erudition and tact as a reader is amply evidenced in his classic study The Italian Element in Milton's Verse (1951), and the essays he contributed to this magazine, on Italian and French poetry, can only remind us what a remarkable reader and teacher he was.

Of Jewish and Presbyterian antecedents, he became a devout Catholic. His Collected Poems were twice published, first by Anvil, and then in 1993 with additions, by Carcanet. Most significant of the additions were the `Senilia'; already a decade ago he seemed old to himself, yet there was much fine prose and perhaps some memorable verse still to come.


Older than F.T. Prince by five years, the poet and critic KATHLEEN RAINE died on 6 July. Hers was a life of singular focus. From childhood she knew she was to be a poet, almost as though she had been consecrated for the vocation, and she was convinced from an early age in the sacredness of life and art. She was for a time a Roman Catholic convert, but Plato, Plotinus and then the East, Jung and other symbolic and sacred accounts of the world claimed her attention and commitment. Her first master, long before he was appropriated by Allen Ginsberg, was William Blake, and her sense of Blake's way as a positive discipline and a measure of truth sustained her in her scholarship and in her writing. Her second mentor was W.B. Yeats; she respected the elements in Yeats's thought which many modern readers find zany and rebarbative. Her take on literature, as on life, was very different from that of other modern readers. She inspired and was supported by Prince Charles in the establishment of the Temenos Academy of Integral Studies, founded in 1990 in London as a `school of wisdom', with its handsome magazine Temenos, its conferences and other activities. In 1992, she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Tambimuttu published her first collection, Stone And Flower, in 1943. It was illustrated by Barbara Hepworth. Six decades of spiritual activism and literary activity followed.


PETER REDGROVE died on 16 June at the age of seventy-one. He was, in Alan Brownjohn's words, `idiosyncratically inventive and prolific', a poet of flow, of the instincts, whose love of abundance and verbal excess led to the creation of a vast and diverse body of work in verse and prose. He was a Rabelaisian figure in some respects, but without, perhaps, the spirit of irony, cruel and kind, that makes Rabelais a humane and moral exemplar. Redgrove's enthusiasms were not unlike Kathleen Raine's: the Metaphysicals, Blake, Jung and much else; but what was in her spirituality was in him a psychology. Freud and Freud's aftermath were to him an enabling resource. Part of his imagination remained committed to science, which he went up to Cambridge to read. A friend of Ted Hughes and Philip Hobsbaum, he was associated with The Group, but his very abundance made him different in kind from most of its members. Brownjohn writes: `The poems seem to be not so much individual constructions as cut from an immense, rich fabric of imagination; turning sometimes into chains of wild and wonderful conceits which desert the reality they set out to represent.' Redgrove's second wife was the poet Penelope Shuttle, with whom he collaborated on poetry and fiction projects. Their most celebrated project was The Wise Wound (1978). In his obituary Philip Hobsbaum reported that both Ted Hughes and Peter Porter regarded Redgrove as `the greatest poet of his time'.


The poet KEN SMITH died in June at the age of sixty-four. His work was first heard in the 1960s, one of the New Voices emanating from Leeds. Jon Silkin and Tony Harrison were fellow students and Geoffrey Hill an important teacher. `He was a writer of personal experience who often reflected a sense of loss as he talked through the urban landscape,' wrote Jon Glover in his Guardian interview. `But he was also a fine poet of the visual and the present. Many of his books were a joy because of the way in which they integrated photographs and drawings into the experience of reading.' He was a compelling performer of his own work: indeed, though he was not a performance poet, his poems delivered up their full charge at readings. They were meant to be heard, not overheard. `He was at the height of his powers when he brought legionnaire's disease with him back to London after a visit to Cuba,' Glover reports. His last book, Shed (2002) confirms Glover's contention.

Smith was never satisfied with staying at home in his native Yorkshire landscapes. He travelled widely, developing an intense and ambivalent relationship with the United States. He is best known, for those who do not read his poetry, as the Writer in Residence at Wormwood Scrubs, out of which experience he produced some remarkable prose and verse.

A full assessment of Ken Smith's life and work will appear in a later issue of PN Review.


In November 1997 the life and work of the work of JOSEPHINE JACOBSEN, the Maryland poet, was celebrated. She died in July in Baltimore, where she spent most of her life, at the age of ninety-four. She was a poet of astonishment and premonition. In the Crevice of Time: New and Collected Poems was published in 1995 (Johns Hopkins University Press). Her stories and essays are also available. She received the Robert Frost Medal of the Poetry Society of America and the annual Fellowship from the Academy of American Poets. From 1971 to 1973 she was Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.


TIMOTHY (T.J.G.) HARRIS will be giving a performance entitled 'Marlowe's Erotic Poetry' at the Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, London WC2H 9BX, from 7.30 on Monday, September 8, 2003. Admission is free. The programme will consist of some of the translations of Ovid's Elegies, extracts from Edward II, Tamburlaine and Doctor Faustus, and a complete reading of `Hero & Leander'. For further information contact 020 7420 9887 or visit poetrycafe@poetrysoc.com (e-mail). The Poetry Society's web site is: www.poetrysociety.org.uk.


Executives at Amazon.com, the American Amazon, are negotiating with several of the largest book publishers in the United States to develop an ambitious and costly scheme to bring together a searchable online archive including the texts of tens of thousands of books of non-fiction. There are already several substantial (and struggling) operations of this kind, selling their services to academics and students; the Amazon initiative would be one of the largest. Providing a searchable online database of the contents of books could make Amazon a more authoritative source of information, drawing additional traffic to its online retail store. It is also likely that such a resource would have an impact on competing operations which aim not to sell books but to sell information.


Richard Taruskin in the New York Times (27 July 2003) reviewed the new CD of EZRA POUND'S selected music, Ego Scriptor Cantilenae: The Music of Ezra Pound (produced by the San Francisco company Other Minds, www.otherminds.org), under the title `Ezra Pound, Musical Crackpot'. `According to an old and highly unreliable story,' he writes, 'Pablo Picasso gave a few poems he had written to Gertrude Stein for comment. In the middle of the night, he was roused violently from sleep. It was Miss Stein, shaking him furiously and shouting: "Pablo! Pablo! Get up and paint!"' Taruskin admits, however, that much of the music `is strangely compelling, if eccentric, stuff. He did not set his own verse to music but concentrated on the writers who helped shape his own formal practices, Villon, Catullus, Cavalcanti and others, and composition was in part an attempt to learn the dynamics of certain poetic forms, the Ode for example. There is also much work written for his devoted Olga Rudge, the violinist, mainly in the 1920s, his musical decade. A major essay on Pound's operas will appear in PNR 154.


The Forward Prize for the Best Collection of Poems (£10,000 - sponsored by the Forward Arts Foundation) has announced the 2003 list. It includes Ciaran Carson's Breaking News (Gallery), the cheerful American Poet Laureate Billy Collins' Nine Horses (Picador), Ian Duhig's The Lammas Hireling (Picador), Lavinia Greenlaw's Minsk (Faber) and Paul Muldoon's Pulitzer Prize-winning volume Moy Sand and Gravel (Faber).

The Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection (£5,000 - sponsored by Felix Dennis and the Forward Arts Foundation) has shortlisted Rhian Gallagher's Salt Water Creek (from the excellent Enitharmon), A.B. Jackson's Fire Stations (Anvil), John McAuliffe's A Better Life (Gallery), Jane Routh's Circumnavigation (Smith/Doorstop) and Sarah Wardle's Fields Away (Bloodaxe).

The Tolman Cunard Prize for Best Single Poem (£1,000 - sponsored by Tolman Cunard) include Judi Benson's `Burying the Ancestors' (Acumen), David Constantine's `Submerged Site' (Dreamcatcher), Jean Harrison's `Woman on the Moon' (The North), Robert Minhinnick's `The Fox in the National Museum of Wales' (Poetry London) and Alison Prince's `Spring' (Poetry News).

The judges in all three categories, chaired by Sir Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, are the poet Connie Bensley, the television producer and presenter Daisy Goodwin, the Irish poet Vona Groarke, and the singer and song-writer Beth Orton. The Prizes will be announced on Wednesday 8 October 2003, on the eve of National Poetry Day.


Poetry magazine, which does not like to be known as Poetry Chicago, after its enormous windfall, has appointed a new editor, the poet Judy Valente. Her predecessor, editor for twenty years Joseph Parisi, has assumed his new duties at The Poetry Foundation.


The Academi has launched the Cardiff International Poetry Competition 2004 with £7,000 of prizes. For information visit www.academi.org.


The Poetry School has issued its 2003-4 Programme, with many of the most successful features of earlier years and a new range of programmes, including more concerted outreach activities which go as far as York, Bristol and Corfu, and Graham Fawcett's literary tour of London. For further information e-mail programme@poetryschool.com or see www.poetryschool.com.


There was considerable shock when it was reported that Seamus Heaney had lauded the `verbal energy' of Eminem who `sent a voltage around a generation'. He `has created a sense of what is possible'. (`I'm not Peter Pan I don't fuck with fairies/But I bust more rhymes than virgin cherries'.) The Guardian in `Pass Notes' asked: `How have other poets reacted?' Paul Muldoon: `Ice T's electric tetrameters are beyond compare.' Geoffrey Hill: `Puff Daddy's poetic diction juices up the imagination.' `Really?' `No.'

This item is taken from PN Review 153, Volume 30 Number 1, September - October 2003.



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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