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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 105, Volume 22 Number 1, September - October 1995.

News & Notes
JONATHAN BARKER has put together a crudal bibliography: Poetry in Britain and Ireland since 1970, published by the British Council at £3.00. Those who possess his valuable 1981 Arts Council Poetry Library bibliography (with Philip Larkin's preface) will welcome this substantial and characteristically dependable sequel, modest in intention - it's just a short-title listing from Abse to Zephania - yet an invaluable resource.

It seems almost indecent to speak of new bibliographical resources at a time when library budgets, especially in schools, show 'serious shortfalls'. A Bookseller report (19 May 1995) summarised the current situation, revealed by research undertaken not by the Department for Education, which has failed to collect statistics since 1973, but by the British Library Research and Development Department:

* only 20% of secondary libraries have 13 resource items per pupil

* 29% of school libraries have fewer than 8 resource items per pupil

* the mean expenditure on books and other resources per secondary school pupil head is only £4.81

* expenditure on school libraries is expected to drop by 5% in secondary schools and by 8.6% in primary schools this financial year

* only 15% of schools replace their stock every 10 years or less

* in one school the replacement rate was 1% - it will take a century to replace all pre-national curriculum stock

The variations within the system are dramatic: there are no standards of provision n operation. With the chronic crisis in the public libraries, and this school library assessment, and given the low priority the government gives to libraries within a severe educational policy, it is time to urge that the National Lottery solicit applications from educational and library authorities. The sums required to double per capita provision are only a little more than the sums paid for the Churchill papers which may already have belonged to the State. The future of education, educational publishing and its beleaguered infrastructure of suppliers depends on some change. Run down much further, the public and schools library services will be at best a faint echo of what they were when library provision was an educational and therefore a political priority.

As if to relieve the librarians' gloom the government, in its first review of the public library service for half a century, declared that it had no plans to contract out or privatise the sector. Services should continue to be free, new forms of provision should be encouraged and opening hours reviewed. But there is more: public libraries should become 'tele-working centres'. Resources should be allocated less to books than to giving library users free access to the Internet, and libraries should link in to the information superhighways. For those who believe libraries are and should remain about books, the report may seem less than heartening in its recommendations.

SIR STEPHEN SPENDER died in July, closing a memorable chapter in the poetry of this century. Few writers could have been more generous to others or resilient in himself. If in the end he is remembered as a poet for a handful of poems and almost vanishes in the shadow of Auden and MacNeice, his memoirs will survive as a candid and tactful witness to a life in which modest gifts were carefully husbanded, durable friendships honoured, and an optimism almost indistinguishable from innocence triumphed. It was also a life of advocacies, of maturing changes in judgment. Spender never reached a point of stability or repose, and this continual growth kept him youthful even through his last decade.

EMIL CIORAN, the Romanian-born philosopher and essayist whose work meant so much to writers of the generation of Octavio Paz in Europe and America, died in June. He was 84. His political trajectory will on reflection prove as vexed as de Mann's, but more transparent. His crafted aphorisms and his wry nihilism strike at the root of humanist assumptions and point towards a different kind of humanism, based on an acceptance of tragedy and distrustful of meliorism. 'He who has not suffered is not a being: at most, a creature,' he says in Drawn and Quartered, his sixth book translated into English - by Richard Howard. Susan Sontag declared, 'Cioran is one of the most delicate minds of real power writing today.' 'To be,' he remarked, 'is to be cornered.'

PHILIP SHERRARD, the poet-translator who brought Seferis, Cavafy, Elytis, Gatsos and others into English, often in collaboration with American Edmund Keeley, died in May in London at the age of 72. For young readers electrified by the great modem Greek poets in the 1960s Sherrard and Keeley remain tutelary spirits. even when their translations have been improved upon by later translators. Sherrard was also a poet in his own right.

The Congolese poet, novelist and dramatist Sony Labou Tansi. one of the outstanding African writers of the 1980s, died in Brazzaville in June at the age of 48.

The NOTRE DAME REVIEW (published by the Creative Writing Programme, Department of English at the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556 USA at $6.00)-has- issued its first number. The second will follow in Spring 1996, and biannually thereafter. The 1995 issue, handsomely designed, features poetry by Michael Anania, William Bronk, Julia Budenz, Christopher Jane Corkery, Mary Hawley. Seamus Heaney. Marilyn Krysl, Denise Levertov, Derek Mahon, Peter Michelson, Czeslaw Milosz, John Peck, Ernest Sandeen, Beryl Scholssman, Marci Sulak, Anthony Walton and David Wolinsky. It also includes fiction, an interview and reviews. The editors invite submissions and subscriptions.

The magazine Ore ends its long life this year with its 50th issue. Editor Eric Ratcliffe writes:

Ore's first issue in the mid-1950s cost 9 d in old money or less than 4p. Like Stand, its nearest starter at 8d, its work was on green paper and mimeographed. In the old type-writer-cum-wax stencil days there was a large rainbow range of duplicating paper; there was something about red ink on lime green paper which appealed.

Ore is now just under twice as old as PN Review. Unlike more 'professional' magazines, it remained a personal venture and did not expand into a multi-editorship concern. It was perhaps only the most regular irregular magazine during its 40 years. After nearly foundering after issue 10, with a long gap in the 1960s due to domestic circumstances, it gradually developed a 'spedalist' clientele, which stuck to it and liked it, be it with contents relating to the Arthurian and Celtic, general myth and legend, or just plain poetry of feeling, often romantidsed. It was mainly a magazine of subject atmosphere in which one could find poems of reasonable quality, and occasionally a gem for the critics.

Was it worth half my possible life? Yes, it was although at 77 I need abreather. It is easily possible and usually probable that any sole and founder-editor of a poetry magazine will overestimate its importance. Indeed, the Celtic-occult-life after death slant of Ore often drew the usual oddbod comments, tinged with some acknowledgement of poetic worth. But finally I know from nearly 100 letters that it will be missed by many.

Maurice Rutherford asks us to correct a proofing error in PN Review 103 His Peterloo book Love is a Four-Letter World was retitled more conventionally as Love is a Four-Letter Word. We apologise for the mistake.

This item is taken from PN Review 105, Volume 22 Number 1, September - October 1995.



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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