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This item is taken from PN Review 162, Volume 31 Number 4, March - April 2005.

News & Notes
In the summer of 2003, in the fifth of the PN Review lectures at the Literatures of the Commonwealth Festival in Manchester, Professor Germaine Greer came up with a novel plan. 'Would we be doing our Commonwealth Writers more good if we persecuted them? Discriminated against them? Forced them back on the resources of their own culture, whether on the street or in the bush or even in prison?' She nibbled her lip, fixing the audience on a confrontational twinkle. 'Does it annoy Salman [Rushdie] when I tell him that all writers should have a spell in prison?' Then the fantasy let rip: 'But I'd love to be in prison because the phone wouldn't ring and... the way prisons are now, maybe I would. You probably meet some quite interesting people in prison. Probably more interesting than university... certainly be more interesting than university.' Watching her spin nauseously on Big Brother, then wade through a trough of manure, enjoying the company and conversation of some 'quite interesting people', it was salutary to reflect on how far reality falls short of the rhetorical illusions of some of our soi dissant intellectuals.

The Scottish Parliament has opened and the controversies of cost have been displaced by a genuine enthusiasm for the building and, by extension, the institution. From the outset it has been a poetry-minded project.

Chunks of poetry are scattered about the place and SMPs are not allowed to forget that they are in the city of Fergusson, Garioch and MacCaig, in the country of Burns, MacDiarmid, MacLean, Iain Crichton Smith, Edwin Morgan (whose celebratory poem was read at the opening ceremony), Liz Lochhead. And the Scottish author James Robertson was 'in residence' to remind SMPs, in a series of three 'Masterclasses' (the first, 'A Parcel of Rogues', reproduced in this issue of PN Review) about aspects of their poetic heritage.

The first disc in a project to record all of Haydn's largely unknown four hundred and twenty five Scottish songs, many of them settings of Robert Burns, was formally launched at the Austrian Embassy in London. The series will eventually com-prise seventeen CDs, based on a newly published edition by Haydn expert Marjorie Rycroft of the University of Glasgow (Joseph Haydn Werke, vols. XXXII/3 & 4, Henle Verlag). Haydn was commissioned to compose these arrangements by the Edinburgh publisher George Thomson (1757-1851), who wanted the finest musicians of his time to arrange the best Scottish folksongs. The completion of the project is planned to coincide with the bicentenary of Haydn's death and the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns's birth in 2009.

A conference on the increasingly celebrated Scottish poet W.S. GRAHAM will take place in Cambridge in April. Details can be found at

The Irish poet PATRICK KAVANAGH is to have a new 28.2 million Euro bypass named after him in County Monaghan, the county in which he was born. The bypass, on the route between Dublin and Londonderry, will be named 'The Kavanagh Way'.

The house in West Yorkshire in which TED HUGHES was born is up for sale. The three-bedroomed end terrace in Aspinall Street, Mytholmroyd, is on the market for offers of over £145,000.

Three pamphlets published in October 2004 marked the launch of Landfill Press, a new venture run by Jeremy Noel-Tod, former assistant editor of Areté. The pocket-sized pamphlets are carefully designed to allow poetic sequences space to unfold. The first three titles, R.F. Langley's Twine; Leo Mellor's Things Settle and Daniel Kane's Seven, are available for £2 each (+ 50p p&p), or 3 for £5 (+ £:1 p&p) from 17 Waldeck Road, Norwich NR4 7PG (cheques payable to Landfill Press). For sample poems, fur-ther information and mail order visit the Landfill website (

Marshwinds Press, a new venture based in Aldeburgh, has published its launch collec-tion, Archaeopteryx, a first book of poems by Jef Jones. Details about the press are available at

Threepenny Review is now one hundred issues and twenty five years old. It is a wonderful - magazine? journal? newspaper? - with nine thousand subscribers, a modest annual budget of $200,000, and no institutional support or patron. There are now more than one thousand literary magazines in the United States. Threepenny must be among the best. It was first brought to our attention twenty years ago by Thom Gunn; what is striking is that it commanded his devotion (he contributed poems and major essays to it down the years) as well as that of writers one might assume to be anathema to him and hostile to one another. His theory of the spectrum of poetry seems to be borne out within what is a catholic but never a loosely eclectic journal. Wendy Lesser, Threepenny 's editor, reflected, 'We benefit in some ways from the crassness of the cu-ture. The Tina Brown years at The New Yorker were golden years for us. She commissioned all these pieces and she'd get them and they were too literary for The New Yorker.' But Threepenny is the result of a far greater bit of good fortune than Tina Brown. Wendy Lessor is herself a wonderful essayist and an excellent editor, and excellent people simply like to write for her.

The American Council of Literary Magazines and Presses, founded to help literary magazines achieve visibility, lists more than four hundred of them on its web site, with categories from

African-American to Youth. 'Many of us read a range of literary publications, from the élite to the obscure, in hope of finding the next great quirky American voice,' the editor in chief of Random House said. And he added, 'I think the proliferation of literary magazines parallels the fragmentation of culture at large.'

The twenty-first Ezra Pound International Conference, entitled 'Ezra Pound, Language and Persona', will take place at the Villa Tigullio on the waterfront, near the Giardino Ezra Pound, in Rapallo from 4 to 7 July. Participants 'will have the opportunity to relax in the seafront Caffé Rapallo, under the balcony of Ezra and Dorothy Pound's apartment in Via Marsala, once the headquarters of the "Ezuversity".' More information from the Conference Secretary, William Pratt, Department of English, Miami University, Oxford OH 45056 USA, or to Massimo Bacigalupo, DISCLIC, Universita' di Genova, 16124 Genova, Italy.

From Katherine Gallagher: 'I'm writing to try to enlist your help in efforts to save Torriano Meeting House which appears to be under threat.' Torriano is one of the fabled London poetry performance venues. The reasons for its imperilment are financial. The struggle with Camden Council and other funding bodies continues. A letter campaign and support from the Ham & High are ongoing.

This item is taken from PN Review 162, Volume 31 Number 4, March - April 2005.

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