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This item is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

News & Notes
Julia Bird of the Poetry Book Society writes: The photograph which accompanied many of the newspaper obituaries of MICHAEL DONAGHY last month showed the poet with a trim smile, leaning against an ivy-clad wall: his standard author's headshot. Supposedly, however, there is another version of this photo in existence - one in which the image has been digitally manipulated by its subject to include a similarly smiling cheetah. Michael claimed he responded to certain press enquiries with the doctored photo, just to see who noticed before their publications went to press. Apparently, not everybody did.

Fondly praised by all his obituarists, this playful, mischievous spirit animated both the man and his poetry. Anyone who hasn't, should read Conjure, his Forward Prize winning collection (Picador, 2000). Full of charms and glamours, it is the issue of a vigorously intelligent and entertaining imagination that is as closely related to Keats and Marvell as it is to Nick Cave and Tim Burton; one he also shared generously in his relationships with friends and colleagues.

The Poetry Book Society worked with Michael many times - when Conjure was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize, on a commissioning project with the Victoria & Albert Museum and, most closely, when he hosted (with Sean O'Brien) the Poetry Book Society's nationwide classic and contemporary poetry tour, A Fine Excess. Night after night, the charismatic, word-perfect recitals of his own work and that of poets he admired delighted and thrilled audiences, many of whom were attending their first live poetry reading. `Thank you for introducing me to the poems of Michael Donaghy,' they wrote to us afterwards. He will be so sadly missed as a poet, teacher and friend - but I am sure the introductions will continue.

DONALD M. ALLEN died in San Francisco in August at the age of 92. As a poetry editor, he celebrated Beat writers and the Black Mountain poets, edited Jack Kerouac and published an acclaimed anthology of American poetry, The New American Poetry 1945-1960, when he worked as an editor of Grove Press in New York. He also edited the first Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, a crucial service to all poetry readers. Marjorie Perloff regarded him as `the best editor for poetry of the last few decades. He put certain poets on the map and put a more experimental, avant-garde poetry on the map.' He edited Kerouac's Mexico City Blues and the San Francisco issue of Evergreen Review, which included Ginsberg's Howl. He founded Grey Fox Press and Four Seasons Foundation, publishing Gary Snyder, Kerouac, Ginsberg, O'Hara, Robert Duncan, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, Lew Welch and Joanne Kyger. He also edited author Richard Brautigan's first four books.

The Jamaican activist, writer and poet ELEAN THOMAS died in September. She was 57 years old. Her poetry - she called it `word rhythms' - was instrumental, part and parcel of her struggle on behalf of working people and against racism. Her `Black Woman's Love Song' (1998) takes us through a long struggle, from the slave ships to the emerging democracies, and ends with these lines: `I sing you love songs Black man so you can understand that I want you strong beside me/Singing me love songs too.'

RADOI RALIN , the popular Bulgarian satirist, died in July at the age of 81. Ralin suffered house arrest and then exile for his book of epigrams Hot Peppers. `You'll have a full gut/If you keep your mouth shut.' His first significant book of poetry was entitled Soldier's Notebook (1955) and included work about his experiences in the Bulgarian army during its fighting in Yugoslavia and Hungary. Though he always insisted that `where politics begins, art ends', he was a significant political force, leading by example.

MULK RAJ ANAND , described as one of the `founding father of the Indo-English novel' (along with Raja Rao and R.K. Narayan) and a man whose writing brought the poor of India into world focus, died in September at the age of 98. He will be best remembered for his novels Untouchable (1935, with an introduction by E.M. Forster) and Coolie (1936). He was, the Guardian obituary told us, spurred into writing by a family tragedy which underlined the issues of caste and sectarianism in a vivid way. `He wrote a moving essay in response to the suicide of an aunt who had been excommunicated by his family for sharing a meal with a Muslim.' He acknowledged the aftermath of British colonialism but also drew attention to other and differently pernicious colonial legacies endemic in Indian societies.

The Italian poet GIOVANNI RABONI has died in Parma at the age of 72. Known primarily as a poet outside Italy, at home he was a major literary force in various fields, not least translation where he was the distinguished interpreter of Baudelaire, Apollinaire, of Flaubert and of the entire Remembrance of Proust. He was a successful lawyer and started his career as a poet relatively late, publishing his first collection, Le case della Vetra in 1966. His work was classical, wedded closely to the history of his region and his city, but as the years passed be became more lyrical in impulse and his poetry was marked by the influences of Russian and other traditions. His Collected Poems appeared in 1993 and a selection of his poems in English, The Coldest Year of Grace, in 1985.

KATHLEEN JAMIE was the recipient of this year's Forward Prize for Poetry for her book The Tree House (Picador). LEONTIA FLYNN received the prize for the best first collection for These Days (Cape), and the Best Single Poem prize went to DALJIT NAGRA for `Look We Have Coming to Dover!', published in Poetry Review.

Academi in Cardiff has launched the 2005 CARDIFF INTERNATIONAL POETRY COMPETITION . This year's judges are Les Murray, Gwyneth Lewis, and Hilary Llewellyn-Williams. The first prize is £5000, making it one of the most generous purses currently available. A further £2000 of prizes is also offered. The winning poems and ten runners up will be published in New Welsh Review. For further details, consult Entries must be received by Friday 28 January 2005 and must be no longer than 50 lines in length. Entry forms can be obtained from Academi by sending a SAE to: Mount Stuart House, Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff, CF10 5FQ.

The first issue of THE AMSTERDAM REVIEW has reached us. It describes itself as a `magazine for European literature' and is edited by Duncan Bush and P.C. Evans. It will appear twice a year. A handsome, discrete production, this number features primarily work by Dutch, British and Irish authors, closing with seven poems by Cesare Pavese translated by Duncan Bush. The editorial address is Columbusplein 19 - III, 1057 TT Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It will appear twice a year and subscriptions cost Euro 13.90 or £8.00.

MODERN POETRY IN TRANSLATION seems to have changed its title with the change in editorship. The first issue of the Third Series, under the editorship of David and Helen Constantine, is called Introductions. It sets out a new policy, remote from that of Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort with their erratic, synergic, uneven and inspirational approach. The new creature is more orderly and carefully gauged in its movements. In this issue, apart from an eloquent tribute by Charlie Louth to Michael Hamburger's work as a translator, there are selections from the work of nine poets, with short introductory essays. It is salutary to read Mahmoud Darwish's poem `A State of Siege' in full in Sarah Maguire's and Sabry Hafez's translation. Sasha Dugdale's skilful advocacy and translations of the work of the late Boris Ryzhy will certainly appeal to Weissbort. Bernard O'Donoghue's versions of the Irish poet Liam O Muirthile adds to the advocacy of Greg Delanty in an earlier issue of the journal. This issue of Modern Poetry in Translation at £9.95 is available from Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN (e-mail:

Poetry, which never likes to be called Poetry Chicago, has published a special double issue (June-July 2004, Volume CLXXXIV, Number 3) dedicated to British poetry and featuring further instalments of Christopher Logue's War Music, along with selections of work by thirteen writers, some lavishly represented (Roddy Lumsden at his most ludic, and George Szirtes), some quite abstemiously (Jo Shapcott, Maura Dooley), with poems too by the late Michael Donaghy, Robert Crawford and others. The subscription office is at 1030 North Clark Street, Suite 420, Chicago, Illinois 606105412, USA, and subscriptions cost $49 overseas and $38 USA.

The ROLAND MATHIAS PRIZE has been established by Roland Mathias, one of the foremost men of letters Wales has produced since the Second World War. This will be a biennial award for a published work in one or other of the fields in which he has achieved distinction as a writer: poetry, the short story, literary criticism, or history. The award is open to writers who are Welsh born or currently resident in Wales. The £2000 inaugural prize, for a book published in the calendar year 2004, will be awarded in March 2005. Publishers are invited to submit books for consideration as soon as possible, but no later than 21 December 2004. Three copies of eligible books already in print, or information about forthcoming books, should be sent to: Brecknock Society and Museum Friends, The Roland Mathias Prize, c/o Brecknock Museum Gallery, Captain's Walk, Brecon LD3 7OW.

In Australia, that most private place, the toilet cubicle, is to be invaded by poetry: not the verses one finds scratched into the plaster or metal-work, or felt-tipped on the looroll holder, but the real kind of poetry that is sanctioned by arts associations keen to corner people with verse. As the New York Times commented, `In a toilet cubicle we are a captive audience, literally caught with our pants down. So while we are in there maybe we need something more interesting to read?' Johanna Featherstone, a twenty-six year old poet, is responsible for the Toilet Doors Poetry project. She is dedicated to the promotion of new poets. `I was desperate to think of a project where I could commission really good-quality Australian poets that somehow could be distributed to a gigantic audience,' she says. For information see

This item is taken from PN Review 160, Volume 31 Number 2, November - December 2004.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
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