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This item is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.News & Notes
San Francisco-based poet MICHAEL PALMER has been awarded the 2006 Wallace Stevens Award by the Academy of American Poets. The $100,000 prize recognises 'proven and outstanding mastery in the art of poetry'. Robert Hass, speaking for the judges, said that Palmer 'is the foremost experimental poet of his generation, and perhaps of the last several generations a gorgeous writer who has taken cues from Wallace Stevens, the Black Mountain poets, John Ashbery, contemporary French poets, the poetics of Octavio Paz, and from language poetries... one of the most original craftsmen at work in English at the present time'. Palmer's collections include Blake's Newton, The Circular Gates, Without Music, Notes for Echo Lake and At Passages. Carcanet publishes his Selected Poems: The Lion Bridge.
The Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC will host a conference on Walt Whitman on 26January, to mark the end of its One Life Whitman exhibition. Speakers at Walt Whitman: a kosmos will include Sean Wilentz on Whitman and democracy, Alexander Nemerov on Whitman's war poems and Michael Schmidt on Whitman and the British, with a reading of Whitman's poems by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Jorie Graham. Visit www.npg.si.edu for further details.
A new poetry publisher, Perdika Press, launches this autumn, publishing original and translated works by contemporary poets in pamphlet form. The first six pamphlets, which include translations of Catullus by Mario Petrucci and Mallarmé by Christine North, are around 28 pages in extent and cost £4.50 each. To order, visit www.perdikapress.com or send a cheque to Perdika Press, 16B St Andrew's Road, Enfield, Middlesex, EN1 3UB.
JOSÉ MANUEL CABALLERO BONALD has won the 2006 Spanish National Poetry Prize for his collection Manuel de Infractores. The Cadiz poet and novelist, who recently celebrated his eightieth birthday, was born in 1926. A militant anti-Francoist, he spent many years outside Spain. The Spanish Ministry for Culture awards the 15,000-euro prize annually to the best poetry published in any of the official languages of the Spanish state.
The Poetry Book Society launches the T.S. Eliot Prize School Shadowing Scheme this autumn, to reflect what the press release describes (without quoting chapter or verse) as Eliot's commitment to encouraging young people to read and enjoy poetry. Whether this was his desire or not, the laud-able scheme is aimed at 1419 year olds, and invites students to shadow the judging panel, which includes Sophie Hannah, Gwyneth Lewis and Sean O'Brien, by reading a selection of poems from the ten short-listed collections and voting for their favourite at www.englishandmedia.co.uk. Copies of the shortlisted collections will be available to order from www.poetrybookshoponline.com when the shortlist is announced on 3 November.
The Poetry Foundation has appointed Seattle poet JACK PRELUTSKY as the first US Children's Poet Laureate. For two years he will serve as an adviser on children's literature for the Foundation and attempt to 'help instil a love of poetry among the nation's youngest readers.' Prelutsky has written more than 35 books, including A Pizza the Size of the Sun and Behold the Bold Umbrellaphant; he also edited The Random House Book of Poetry for Children and The 20th Century Children's Poetry Treasury.
Anthony Astbury of the Greville Press continues to populate Britain with literary memorials. Thanks to his efforts, a plaque outside W.S. Graham's cottage in Madron, Cornwall, was unveiled in June (as N&N reported in PNR 169). He is now bestowing the same recognition upon Graham's birth-place in Hope Street, Greenock, Scotland.
This second plaque was unveiled on Friday, 20 October; those wishing to make a contribution to the campaign should send a cheque payable to the Scottish Poetry Library to its director Robyn Marsack at the SPL, 5 Crichton's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh, EH8 8DT.
Some of the earliest poems of Ted Hughes have come to light, fifty years after he copied them into a Yorkshire schoolgirl's exercise book. The late Laureate wrote the two love poems when he used to visit her home in the village of Patrington, East Yorkshire, while on national service with the RAF in the early 1950s. One is an early version of the poem 'Song', included in his first book, The Hawk in the Rain, in 1957; the other is previously unpublished. The young Enid Wilkin, now Enid Bates, thought they were romantic, but when she showed them to her English teacher he was less than impressed: 'He said that it was rubbish.' She recently decided to sell the poems through the Yorkshire antiquarian bookseller Alex Alec-Smith and has accepted an offer of £2000 from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, which already houses the Hughes archive. The university said the manuscript 'gives us a glimpse of Hughes's first steps on the road to becoming one of the major poets of his generation'. Hughes later wrote that he was inspired to write 'Song' 'as such things should in your 19th year literally a voice in the air at about 3 am when I was on night duty'.
JAMES SUTHERLAND-SMITH has been appointed General Editor of the new online journal of the Slovak Association for the Study of English. The first issue of the SKASE Journal of Literature Studies will focus on the theme of memory in literary works. Contributors should send articles in electronic form to James Sutherland-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.skase.sk for style requirements and more information.
Swedish poet and critic GÖRAN PRINTZPÅHLSON has died in Malmö, Sweden, at the age of 75. Born in Hässleholm in Skania, Printz-Påhlson retained a regional loyalty to the south of the country, commenting wryly in his introduction to Contemporary Swedish Poetry, an anthology translated and edited with John Matthias, that 'the selection can be accused of a certain provincial bias... due to the inveterate regional consanguinity of one of the translators', but also going on to say that his selection of poets 'is a more deliberate attempt to get away from the drearily fashionable shenanigans that so often set their stamp on the literary life of the capital'. Printz-Påhlson wrote poetry and criticism in both Swedish and English. Associated in the 1950s with the journal Salamander, he was also a member of the 'Lundaskolan', or Lund School, of Swedish poets. The University of Lund awarded him an honorary doctorate in 1989. Working sometimes with collaborators (John Matthias, Jan östergren), he translated both from Swedish to English and English to Swedish. His Swedish translations of Ashbery, Heaney, Walcott, and Lowell are well known in his native country, while his versions of such poets as Tomas Tranströmer, Lasse Söderberg, Göran Sonnevi and Lars Norén have been published in Britain and the US. The meta-poetry of his maturity has influenced a number of important Swedish poets, particularly Jesper Svenbro. Printz-Påhlson taught at Harvard and Berkeley in the United States, and for many years at Cambridge, where he was a Fellow of Clare Hall. In 1984 he gave the Ward-Phillips Lectures at the University of Notre Dame.Bonniers published his collected poems, Säg Minns Du Skeppet Refanut?, in 1983, and his volume of essays, När jag var prins utav Arkadien, in 1995. Every student of Swedish poetry knows his seminal essay of 1958, Solen i spegln ('The Sun in the Mirror'). After his retirement from Cambridge, Printz-Pählson returned to Skania.
The greatest Bengali poet of his generation, SHAMSUR RAHMAN , has died in his home city of Dhaka at the age of 77. Born the fourth of thirteen children, Rahman began writing poetry at the age of 18 and gained an English degree from Dhaka University. He embarked on a career as a journalist, going on to edit the Bangladesh newspaper Dainik Bangla from 197787. Closely associated with Bangladesh's struggle for democracy, Rahman frequently clashed with reactionary and religious forces; his most famous poem, 'Shadhinota Tumi' ('Freedom, you') was written in 1971 during Bangladesh's war of independence. His contributions to political campaigns, including the Bengali language movement of the 1950s, made him an iconic figure in his country, though he resisted the title of national poet. Rahman was the author of more than sixty books of poems and many prose works, praised for their secular, often witty romanticism.
The Hungarian poet GYORGY FALUDY, a major figure of the resistance against Nazism and Communism, died in Budapest at the age of 95. Born into a Jewish middle-class family, Faludy sprung to literary fame in 1937 with Villon balladái, his translations of the work of the fifteenth-century French poet, which ran to 46 editions. Driven from pre-war Hungary by reaction and anti-Semitism, from France by Nazism and 1950s Hungary by Stalinism, Faludy's life reads like a litany of twentieth-century political turmoil. During his three years at the Hungarian Stalinist concentration camp Recsk (19503), he famously used a broom-bristle to write in blood on toilet paper in lieu of proper writing materials, and taught poetry, history and literature to his fellow inmates. In the late 1950s he travelled across Europe, before settling in Canada, only returning to his native Hungary in 1989. He received both the Kossuth Prize (1994) and the Hungarian Pulitzer Prize (1998).
Scottish poet and translator WILLIAM AULD has died aged 81. Auld, who wrote in Esperanto, was nominated for the Nobel Prize in 1999, 2004 and 2006, the first Esperanto writer in the language's history to be thus noted. Auld was best known for his poetic work La Infana Raso (The Infant Race, 1956), and for his translations into Esperanto, which included Shakespeare plays and sonnets, Burns's poems and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. He published essays, anthologies and a verse drama, and edited the journal of the Esperanto-Association of Britain, La Brita Esperantisto, for over a quarter of a century.
This item is taken from PN Review 172, Volume 33 Number 2, November - December 2006.