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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 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.

News & Notes
The new Poet Laureate of the United States, succeeding Robert Hass, is ROBERT PINSKY, long regarded as one of the outstanding poets of his generation, a celebrated translator of Dante, with a mastery of computers and a sense of their place in literature and literacy (he is poetry editor of the Net magazine Slate - at http://www. slate.com) . His two-year post (established in 1937) was announced by James H. Billington, Librarian of Congress. Previous laureates have included Williams, Frost, Lowell, Bishop and Aiken.

On 27 April the city of Münster awarded its Preis fur Europäische Poesie 1997 to ZBIGNIEW HERBERT, and to his translator Klaus Staemmler.

ALLEN GINSBERG died in April and on 11 May his death was screened, along with much other footage, on a Channel 4 programme by Colin Still and Anna Price entitled 'No more to say & nothing to weep for'. Ginsberg allowed the cameras into his carefully staged death-scene, maintaining his famous iconoclasm to the very end. In a Guardian obituary Michael Horovitz epitomised Ginsberg's legacy in these terms: he 'opened up and sustained the confluence of transatlantic notations, protests, prophecies, heterodox musics and minstrelsy streaming between writers, readers, performers and auditors throughout the last four decades.' Be this as it may, his influence on popular culture is undeniable, and his impact on Robert Lowell in the transition to Life Studies was acknowledged by Lowell himself. The notion that he somehow licensed the ungenteel elements in Larkin seems fanciful, but there can be no doubt that this vehement, boisterous and at times intolerably domineering presence will have an abiding impact, perhaps more for what he facilitated than -in the longer term - for what he set down on paper.

The much loved memoirist and unaccountably neglected poet LAURIE LEE died on 13 May, just short of his 83rd birthday. If he is best remembered for Cider With Rosie and As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning, it would be sad if his poetic work - vivid poems written during his time in the Republican movement in Spain, poems of his Gloucestershire landscapes - was lost sight of.

The American poet JAMES DICKEY, winner of the National Book Award, died in January. A writer for whom the physical world in all its graininess and violence was a compelling and sufficient reality, he was taken to heart, much as Robinson Jeffers had been before him, for political as well as poetic reasons. His novel Deliverance was made into a controversial film and he remains best-known outside the United States for that book.

Scholar, teacher and critIc WILLIAM RIGHTER died on 14 April; his major publications were Logic and Criticism (1963), The Rhetorical Hero (a study of Malraux, 1964), Myth and Literature (1975) and The Myth of Theory (1994). Born in Kansas City, he was educated at Harvard and Oxford, and taught at Cornell, Cambridge and Warwick where he was one of the 'famous five' founder members of the English Department in 1965: his students of the late 1960s will gratefully recall seminars of mellow yet incisive urbanity which at best continued - Gaulloise-scented and Pernod-flavoured - in the student bar.

CHOLMONDELEY AWARDS for poetry were presented this year to Alison Brackenbury, Gillian Clarke, Tony Curtis and Anne Stevenson. Eric Gregory Awards went to Matthew Clegg, Sarah Corbett, Polly Clark, Tim Kendal, Graham Nelson and Matthew Welton.

The new Literature Director of the Arts Council of England, succeeding Alastair Niven who has become Literature Director of the British Council, is Gary mckeone, who has four years' experience of the Arts Council and has worked in the promotion of theatre and literature.

SIGLO is a new, twice-yearly arts and literature journal based in Tasmania which, says Managing Editor Martin Bell, aims to present the very best in contemporary Australian culture. Despite its Antipodean bias, writes David Kennedy, the magazine manages to achieve a distinctly international flavour. Issue 7, 'Writing Borders', features poetry by Adam Czerniawski, a piece on poetry in translation with parallel texts in Chinese and Polish and an article by John Kinsella relating J.H. Prynne and the Cambridge scene to the international avant garde. siglo is available from: P.O. Box 950, Sandy Bay, Tasmania 7005 and can be contacted at siglo@tuu. utas.edu.au. Subscriptions for four issues: AUS$26 (£12.50).

The 1997 UNESCO/International PEN Seminar in Edinburgh (7-10 August) will concentrate on women's cultural identity and follows on from the themes of the 63rd Congress held last year in Mexico where the Seminar considered Literature and Democracy.

On 7 April the Washington Post reported the strange case of the American poet Edward Field. A recent poem was accepted by the New Yorker. According to the poet, the magazine's fact checker then raised a question: could the poet say that the Queen prevented her sister from marrying a divorced man? If the point could not be proven, the poem would have to be rewritten. Alice Quinn, veteran poetry editor of the New Yorker, declared: 'In a poem that's grounded in a historical situation… and involves public figures, the reader can assume the situation to be grounded in truth and not hugely distorted.'

During its anniversary year, index on CENSORSHIP has been casting an eye back; now in its third issue of 1997 it casts an eye forward, with a number of distinguished contributors confronting the continuing crises and the new crises that face the writer and the word throughout the modern world. Under the headings 'Tolerance', 'Intolerance', 'Global Reach', 'Mediascape', 'Asian Values', 'Outsiders' and 'Body Politics', contributors including Eco, Dorfman, Gordimer, Rushdie, Chomsky, (Ronald) Dworkin, Soyinka and Moorhead reflect, meditate or spin aphorisms. Salman Rushdie's ninth and final aphorism in 'Notes on Writing and the Nation' declares: 'Much great writing has no need of the public dimension. Its agony comes from within. The public sphere is as nothing to Elizabeth Bishop. Her prison - her freedom - her subject is elsewhere.' He then quotes the lines: 'Let nations rage,/Let nations fall. /The shadow of the crib makes an enormous cage/upon the wall.'

This item is taken from PN Review 116, Volume 23 Number 6, July - August 1997.



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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