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This item is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

News & Notes
This year's Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to the novelist J.M. COETZEE: 'the essential novelist of the new South Africa', declared Robert McCrum in the Observer, who, 'like Kafka... exhibits a near biblical simplicity of prose and narrative'.

CIARAN CARSON received this year's Forward Prize for 'Best Collection'. The book is published by Gallery Press. The 2003 Oxford Weidenfeld Prize for Literary Translation was also awarded to Carson's Dante's Inferno, published by Granta, on 8 June. The other Forward winners were A.B. Jackson for Fire Stations (Anvil), the 'Best First Collection'; and Robert Minhinnick's 'The Fox in the Museum of Wales', published in Poetry London, was dubbed 'Best Single Poem', the second time this poet has has received the accolade.

The ubiquitous BILLY COLLINS (American Poet Laureate 2001-2003), BILL MANHIRE (New Zealand's first poet laureate) and Governor General Award-winner PHYLLIS WEBB (Canada) are to judge the 2004 Griffin Poetry Prize. The Prize has rapidly become one of the most prestigious in the English-speaking world. The Griffin Trustees are Margaret Atwood, Robert Hass, Michael Ondaatje, Robin Robertson and David Young. Collins, Manhire and Webb will judge books of poetry published in the 2003 calendar year. The shortlist will be announced in New York on 1 April 2004. The prize, to an International and a Canadian winner, will be presented in Toronto on 3 June 2004.

The Scottish Poetry Library is a central resource for Scottish poetry lovers and for visitors seeking information about Scottish literature. Its events programme is worth following (to subscribe to the events list, message with the word 'subscribe' in the heading). Now, in partnership with The Poetry House at the University of St Andrews, the SPA has appointed Lilias Fraser for a year to be National Poetry Audience Development Officer. Her task is to extend a network of venues for poets' reading tours of Scotland and to organise events for the circuit, as well as to develop a substantial mailing list of individuals and institutions keen to receive information. Robyn Marsack, SPL Director, insists that one of the best ways in to poetry is through the poet's voice.

'Academi is once more beginning a search for the best live poet in Wales.' The vehicle is the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry, named after a dead poet (1927-1986) whose work is still very much alive. During October the heats for the Award were held all over Wales, and the process will culminate in Cardiff's Celebrity Restaurant, St David's Hall, on 26 November. The Academi ( is behind numerous imaginative initiatives in the performance and dissemination of Welsh literature.

The final volume (at least for the foreseeable future) of The Tabla Book of New Verse has just been published. This handsomely produced anthology (£6.00, post free) contains new work by more than thirty poets, among them Sinead Morrissey, Judy Gahagan, Robert Saxton, Carmen Bugan and Chris Agee. (Tabla, Department of English, University of Bristol, 5 Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1TB, or www.bristol.

VONA GROARKE's handsome book Flight (Gallery Press) has been awarded the Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award.

The Vondel Translation Prize, sponsored by the Foundation for the Production and Translation of Dutch Literature, has gone to SAM GARRETT for his version of Tim Krabbe's The Rider. The award was presented, along with five other translation prizes, prior to Tariq Ali's Sebald Lecture, 'Language and Power', at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on 22 September. The winner of the 2003 Popescu Prize for Translation Was DAVID CONSTANTINE for his translations of Hans Magnus Enzensberger's Lighter than Air (Bloodaxe).

For National Poetry Day ROGER MCGOUGH was appointed Poet in Residence at the Poetry Society in London. This year NPD was themed: 'Britain' was used to elicit a variety of performances and other events throughout the country.

The death Of EDWARD SAID in September, long expected because of his twelve-year illness but still a shock because of his youth, removes one of the critics whose impact on 'critical discourse' was profound and will be irreversible. He affected how teachers and students think and write, and his impact on creative writers was also deep and salutary. An awareness of 'the presence of history' is one thing, but an understanding of the ways in which histories are formulated is another, which leads to re-reading and revisioning. Orientalism (1978) will remain his most influential book, though nothing that he wrote about literature, the wider culture or politics is less than engaging. He was a proper essayist in the old sense, discovering where he was going as he went. He quoted often Aimé Césaire's words, 'No race has a monopoly on beauty, or intelligence, or strength, and there is room for everyone at the convocation of conquest.' Few critics were so deliberately and systematically vilified by the right, or so staunchly defended, as Edward Said.

The poet ALAN DUGAN died in September at the age of eighty. His face peered out of the Independent obituary, surprised to find itself in a country where his work was so little regarded. A Yale Younger Poet, his first book went on to win the National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize. He was a deliberately unpoetic poet, following neither the excesses of the Beats nor the formalism of his more traditional contemporaries. In his lifetime he published seven books of poems, each entitled Poems with a number attached. He saw his art, said one obituarist, 'in the egoless terms of the true artist'.

The patrician author, sportsman and editor GEORGE PLIMPTON has died. He was 76. He was an energetic and engaging man. In 1953 he became the first (and principal) editor of The Paris Review. He was a considerable power in the cultural world, a party-goer committed to the things that the parties celebrated, especially to serious contemporary fiction, but also to poetry. His vivid public and social life was always anchored in reality of The Paris Review, a durable quarterly with very limited means. The interviews the magazine has published down the years are among its chief contributions to the literary world. Pablo Neruda, Thom Gunn, Gore Vidal, Joan Didion, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Ernest Hemingway (interviewed by Plimpton himself) are a few of the notable writers featured. Last year he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

GEORGE EVERY, the Byzantine scholar and historian who died in September at the age of 94, also wrote verse of a religious nature all his life, publishing it as he could. T.S. Eliot suggested he might, if he continued, prevail: 'you will know when you have finally done something that hasn't been done before, and it won't matter a fig to you whether you are published...' He might, indeed, become 'good enough to be neglected'.

This item is taken from PN Review 154, Volume 30 Number 2, November - December 2003.

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