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This item is taken from PN Review 170, Volume 32 Number 6, July - August 2006.News & Notes
Film-maker Colin Still remembers a week in Maine with Robert Creeley: In September 2002 I had the pleasure of spending a week with Robert Creeley and his wife Penelope at their home in Waldoboro, Maine. I'd gone there to make sound recordings of Bob reading his work - to be released the following year as the Rockdrill CDs 'I Know A Man'and 'Just In Time'- and to film video interviews with him for a still unfinished documentary.
My enduring impression is of Creeley's good humour and his unflagging energy. Each morning we would record (and film) as many as 30 or 40 poems - over 100 of which were to find their way on to the CDs - delivered in his very distinctive manner, soft-voiced and with broad Irish 'r's, at times on the verge of cracking with emotion, and with his characteristic rest at the end of each line: 'As I said to my - pause - friend, because I am - pause - always talking ...'
In the afternoons, after lunch and a cold beer, we would repair to his study, and over the course of the week film what was, at twelve hours or more, probably the longest interview he had ever given, a leisurely account of his life and loves, his writing, his travels, and his many friendships (Levertov, Olson, Duncan, Brakhage, McClure, Kerouac, Ginsberg, de Kooning, Kline), sessions which were memorable for the patience, candour and warmth of the interviewee.
At the end of what we'd planned to make the final session, Bob unearthed a cassette of his early role model William Carlos Williams reading 'To Elsie'. As the old recording hissed to its end, he fixed me with a playful stare, observing wryly that where he himself would rigorously have observed the poem's line endings, his mentor completely ignored them: 'I managed in effect to invent a prosody or a way of dealing with line that my master had in no wise either practised or seemingly intended.'Robert Creeley died in Odessa, Texas on 30 March 2005
DONALD HALL has been appointed the 2006 American Poet Laureate.
Former US poet laureate STANLEY KUNITZ has died in Manhattan at the age of 100. He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1905. His early life was marked by the suicide of his father six weeks before he was born. In 1926 he graduated with highest honours from Harvard, where he took his master's degree and began writing poetry. He worked as a reporter and editor for the New York-based H.W. Wilson reference company, editing literary biographies and reference books from his Connecticut farm until 1943, when he was conscripted into the army, though a conscientious objector. After the Second World War Kunitz won a Guggenheim Fellowship and began a long teaching career, first at Bennington College in Vermont and then at the Universities of Washington, Columbia, Yale and Rutgers, amongst others. Through his writing and teaching he influenced more than a generation of American poets, including Louise Glück, Carolyn Kizer and James Wright. He also founded the Fine Arts Center in Provincetown and Poets' House in New York. His poetry, notable for its restraint, favoured mythology and the oracular tradition over intimate confession. From his first collection, Intellectual Things, in 1930, to his last book, The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden, a collection of essays about his beautiful Provincetown garden, Kunitz's published works include Selected Poems 1928 - 1978 (1958 Pulitzer Prize) and a Collected Poems (Norton, 2000). He was American poet laureate in 2000 at the age of 95. Three times married, Kunitz revealed the secret of his longevity in a recent inter-view with People magazine: 'I garden and I write and I drink martinis.'
The novelist, translator and poet ISLE BARKER died on 20 May at the age of 85. Barker, who wrote as Kathrine Talbot, was the wife of the painter Kit Barker and sister in-law of the poet George Barker. Born Ilse Gross in Bingen on the Rhine to German-Jewish parents, in 1935 she was sent away to study at the International School in Geneva to escape Nazi Germany. There she began to write poetry, first in French, and established what was to be a lifelong habit of prolific letter writing. In 1938 she came to England and learned English whilst working as a domestic for European academics on the Isle of Man. After working in London for the Indian Freedom Campaign and later for Freudian analyst Dr Kate Friedlander, she learned that her parents had been killed in Terezin and Auschwitz. She moved to Mevagissey in Cornwall to write. Here she became part of a literary and artistic circle that included the W.S. Graham and Nessie Dunsmuir, David Wright, and Kit and George Barker respectively. In America Ilse completed several novels and struck up a friendship with Elizabeth Bishop that was to result in hundreds of letters now held in the Bishop archive at Princeton University Library. In 1953 the Barkers returned to England, where Ilse continued to write short stories and had a successful career as a translator. Her work featured in PN Review in January 2005.
Welsh poet and teacher LESLIE NORRIS has died in Utah aged 85. Born in Merthyr Tydfil in the Brecon Beacons, Norris's unhappy period of military service in the RAF during the Second World War provided the inspiration for some of his finest elegies. During the 1960s he was a regular contributor to the newly launched Poetry Wales; his first collection, Finding Gold, was published by Chatto & Windus in 1967. Norris emigrated with his wife to the United States in 1973 to become Visiting Professor at the University of Washington, a post previously held by fellow Welshman Vernon Watkins. From 1983 he made his home in Utah, where he became Humanities Professor of Creative Writing at Brigham Young University. Seren published his Collected Poems and Collected Stories in 1996.
Canadian SYLVIA LEGRIS and Barbadian KAMAU BRATHWAITE were awarded the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize at an Asianthemed gala dinner in Toronto on 1 June. The awards, worth C$45,332 each to a Canadian and an international winner, are the most lucrative poetry prizes in the world for a single volume of poetry. Sylvia Legris travelled from the prairies of Saskatchewan to collect her prize, awarded for her collection Nerve Squall. Kamau Brathwaite, a cel ebrated poet, performer and professor of comparative literature at New York University, won the international category for his collection Born to Slow Horses. A group of Canadian writers including Margaret Atwood and Michael Ondaatje established the Griffin Trust in 2000, with the support of Toronto car parts magnate Scott Griffin.
A new anthology of contemporary Nordic poetry in English, The Other Side of the Landscape, has been published in the United States by Slope Editions. Seventeen prominent Nordic poets born since 1960, including Morten Søndergaard and Lars Skinnebach from Denmark, Sigurbjörg Thrastardóttir from Iceland, Helena Sinervo and Jyrki Kiiskinen from Finland, Håkan Sandell and Jörgen Lind from Sweden and Pedro Carmona-Alvarez from Norway, are included. The anthology is the most comprehensive single volume of modern Nordic poets currently available to an Anglophone audience. Edited by Anni Sumari and Nicolaj Stochholm, The Other Side of the Landscape is further described on www.slopeeditions.org, where readers may order a copy.
The 2006 Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize was awarded to LEN RIX & for his translation of Magda Szabo's The Door (Harvill Secker). The prize aims 'to honour the craft of translation and to recognise its cultural importance'. In an extract from Ali Smith's presentation speech (The Times, 10 June), she praised good translators as 'doubly creators' and bemoaned the fact that less than four per cent of all books published in the UK are translations.
PN Review readers will recall the editorial appeal in 165 to secure the future of the English Cemetery in Florence, which contains the graves of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Walter Savage Landor, Fanny Trollope, Theodosia Trollope and Arthur Hugh Clough, and tombs by Lord Leighton and Holman Hunt. The campaigners'petition has obtained the 2000 signatures necessary to save the Cemetery from closure. It will be considered for UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Julia Bolton Holloway, Professor Emerita Director of the Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei, is forming a Foundation to raise funds for the Cemetery's restoration and to ensure that it and its library remain open to the public. To support the appeal, sign the petition at http://piazzaledonatello.blogspot.com or send a contribution to Julia Bolton Holloway, Professor Emerita Director, Biblioteca e Bottega Fioretta Mazzei 'English Cemetery', Piazzale Donatello, 38, 50132 Florence, Italy.
Poetry reached a new high on 15 May as two Tibetan poets launched their new collection from the top of Mount Everest. History's highest altitude book launch, of Bard's Sketches by cousins Wangdi Gyalpo and Sonam Bhote, was a valiant attempt on the authors'part to show the world that Tibetan Sherpas can excel in literature as well as mountaineering, according to Everest News ( 'the premier news source for Everest Climbers'). If you have experienced a similarly strange launch venue, send details to PN Review at the usual address ...
A new Ezra Pound exhibition has opened at the Special Collections Gallery at the University of Delaware. Ezra Pound in His Time and Beyond: The Influence of Ezra Pound on 20th-Century Poetry features several important literary works from University's recently acquired Robert A. Wilson Pound collection. Visit www.udel.edu/PR/UDaily/2006/jun/ezra060506.html for more information.
The 47th Yeats International Summer School will take place at Douglas Hyde Bridge, Sligo, Ireland from 29 July - 11 August. The conference will include lectures, seminars and workshops by Patrick Crotty, Maureen Murphy, Michael Longley, Rajeev Patke and Tetsuro Sano, amongst others. Telephone +353 (0)71 91 42693 or visit www.yeats-sligo.com to book a place.
Experience a taste of Arabic poetry and fic tion in translation from 14 - 20 August at Banipal Live 2006!, a UK tour showcasing four young Arab writers. Poets Joumana Haddad from Lebanon and Abed Ismael from Syria join novelists Ala Hlehel from Palestine and Mansoura Ez-Eldin from Egypt for a series of readings and discussions in London, Chesterfield, Derby, Manchester, South Shields and at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. The project is supported by Banipal Magazine, the British Council and the Reading Agency. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.banipal.co.uk/events/ tour.php for further information.
This item is taken from PN Review 170, Volume 32 Number 6, July - August 2006.