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This item is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.News & Notes
Russian, American and Italian poets and artists will convene in Florence from 15 to 17 November to discuss Dante’s Divine Comedy. Organised by the Fondazione Romualdo del Bianco, the conference will bring together international poets, artists, translators and interpreters to explore readings and re-readings of Dante’s work through poetry, theatre, music and figurative and multimedia arts. Speakers include the poets Robert Pinsky, Edoardo Sanguineti and Yusef Komunyakaa and the film director Giancarlo Cauteruccio. Interpretations of Dante’s poem will be enacted at the recently restored House of Dante Alighieri Museum in the heart of Florence during the three-day conference. Visit www.florenceexpo.com or email info@fondazionedelbianco. org for further information.
BILL MANHIRE won the poetry category of the 2006 Montana New Zealand Book Awards in July with his collection Lifted (Victoria University Press/Carcanet). Manhire directs the creative writing pro-gramme at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University, Wellington. He has published numerous poetry collections and several volumes of fiction. ‘I feel very lucky,’ Manhire commented. ‘New Zealand poetry has entered one of its great periods in the last few years, and some astonishing books are being published.’
Professor GWYN THOMAS has been appointed the new National Poet of Wales, taking over from Gwyneth Lewis. Born in Tanygrisiau, Gwynedd, and raised in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Thomas is the author of sixteen collections of poetry. The 69-yearold has already spoken of his plans to wall-paper the nation with poetry; planned initiatives include displaying poems on Welsh public transport, in doctors' and dentists' waiting rooms and even on pub beer mats. He has also called for more public funding for poetry, to enable writers to engage with their communities and take their work into local schools. 'Sales of books of poetry, both in Welsh and English throughout Britain, are quite low,' Thomas observed. 'I'm going to try and do some-thing about that. Although people often don't seem interested in poetry, rhythm is actually a basic part of our language and if we want to express ourselves we talk in metaphors.'
Neath-born poet and Poetry Wales editor ROBERT MINHINNICK was awarded the 2006 Wales Book of the Year for his collection of essays To Babel and Back (Seren). Administered by the Welsh Academi, the UK’s only bilingual literary prize is awarded to the two best books in Welsh and English. The winner in the Welsh language category was Rhys Evans for Gwynfor: Rhag Pob Brad (Y Lolfa). The authors each receive £10,000. Judge Peter Finch commented: ‘The prize is a timely boost in an already flourishing career for Robert Minhinnick. We hope to see his work go from strength to strength from here.’
DAVID MORLEY, poet, critic, anthologist andsenior lecturer and director of the Warwick Writing Programme, has been awarded a National Teaching Fellowship by the Higher Education Academy. The NTF scheme, which launched in 2000 and is sponsored by the Guardian, recognises andrewards teachers and learning support staff in higher education in England and Northern Ireland for their excellence in teaching.
The American poet and university professor PATRICIA GOEDICKE has died at the age of 75. Her poetry won national accolades and her work at the University of Montana helped to establish a writers’ retreat in the northern Rocky Mountain town of Missoula. Goedicke, who studied under W.H. Auden and Robert Frost, won a National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship and a William Carlos Williams Prize for Poetry. She published twelve collections during her lifetime; her most recent, As Earth Begins to End, was voted one of the top ten poetry books of 2000 by the American Library Association. The vivacious poet ‘could always be counted on to attend a reading and then dance the night away at a social function,’ reports the Missoula Independent newspaper. ‘She edited poems and facilitated workshops with a sustained tirelessness that was as mesmerizing as it was intimidating.’
The irrepressible CHARLES BENNETT is leaving his post as director of Ledbury Poetry Festival to pursue a teaching and writing career. During his decade at the Ledbury helm, the Festival has established itself as one of the premier poetry events in the country (the premier, according to the Poet Laureate). Established in 1997, it now attracts leading writers and large audiences to the beautiful medieval market town each July, as well running a year-round pro-gramme of literature development within the local community. Bennett's enthusiasm for poetry and his lunching tours of UK poetry publishers will be missed. However, 'the Duracell bunny' of the poetry world is moving on to teach at three universities (the University of Central England, the University of Wales and University of Gloucestershire). His collection of poems How to Make a Woman Out of Water is published by Enitharmon in 2007.
SUSAN TRANTER has created a literary weblog on the British Council’s international reading website, EnCompassCulture. Visit www.encompassculture.com/weblog to read daily reading recommendations and news of literary events.
Edinburgh University Press and Columbia University Press will publish Hugh MacDiarmid’s Poetry and Politics of Place: Imagining a Scottish Republic in August. Written by Dr Scott Lyall, a Research Fellow in the Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, the new study explores MacDiarmid’s radical vision for Scottish self-determination, the controversial politics that led MI5 to investigate him during the Second World War, and his abiding effect on contemporary Scottish poetry. To order a copy, visit www.eup.ed.ac.uk or send a cheque for £45 to Edinburgh University Press, 22 George Square, Edinburgh EH8 9LF.
Australia’s fifth National Poetry Week takesplace from 1 to 10 September, in association with the Australian Poetry Festival and the Poets’ Union. The themes of this year’s festival are Between, Wild Parties, House Arrest, Fruit, Freedom, Loud, Friendship and Open Books, with a special prize for anyone incorporating all eight themes within a single poem (untrue, but a challenge if ever there was one). Visit www.nationalpoetryweek.com for details.
CHRIS HAMILTON-EMERY, the Publishing Director of UK independent Salt Publishing, has won an Editor Award in the 2006 American Book Awards. The Before Columbus Foundation will present the awards at a ceremony in the US this autumn. Formerly with Cambridge University Press, Hamilton-Emery joined Salt in 2002. He is an Independent Publishers Guild board member and works as an advisor to a number of independent academic and literary presses. Hamilton-Emery’s second poetry collection, Radio Nostalgia was recently published by Arc.
The UK’s most lucrative poetry competition, The Poet’s Letter Beowulf Poetry Prize,was launched in June, offering £17,000 of prize money. The inaugural judges are David Morley, George Wallace and Munayem Mayenim. The deadline is 31 July 2007. Visit www.poetsletter.com for further information.
From the University of Leicester, the English Association has launched a new Fellows’ Poetry Prize, to be judged by Andrew Motion, Peter Porter and Deryn Rees-Jones. For an entry form visit www.le.ac.uk/engassoc/fpp.html or write to The English Association, University of Leicester, University Road, Leicester, LE1 7RH (deadline 1 December 2006).
This item is taken from PN Review 171, Volume 33 Number 1, September - October 2006.