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This item is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

News & Notes
The poet SEÁN RAFFERTY died in West Devonshire on 4 December. His editor Nicholas Johnson writes: 'Seán Rafferty created a small body of unique work known to a handful of readers only, for he never sought publication ….' Born in Dumfrieshire in 1909, a school-master's son, he read literature at Edinburgh under H.J.C Greirson, and listened to Robert Garioch play piano in a cinema. Garioch too kept quiet about poetry. Seán would not say he was Scottish, Irish or English. He never went abroad - he felt he might be tempted to stay away.

'From 1932 to 1948 he lived in London serving as a fireman in the War and working at the Player's Theatre. He wrote reviews and lyrics for musicals. The poems he stood by began in 1940, on the birth of his daughter. Her mother died in 1945. He remarried, moved to Devonshire and ran a pub. He wrote by candlelight when the pub had closed, standing at the bar - poems that took sometimes years to complete. Alliterative, rhyming unusually in the French Sonnet form, these pieces were haunted by memory, age, loneliness. Steeped in the Border Ballads and Percy's Reliques and the Latin, French and English verse he cared for, he created his own sounds. It is on these poems that his reputation was founded, Sixteen Poems from Grosseteste in 1973, and a larger retrospective in P.N. Review in 1982. After that no further poems were published until 1993 In a farm cottage given to him for the rest of his life he finished his two laments for all that had gone from his life in wartime London. Then he stopped. In 1989 Peggy died.

'Sorley MacLean remembered him in an essay: gradually his readership began to grow. The young came to visit, he wrote again, six poems in free verse. Peacocks. Full Stop (poetical Histories, 1993), Salathiel's Song (Babel, 1994) and the forthcoming Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1995) will find his audience. It was the last vanity of the old, he said: to be acceptable to the young ….'

TIMOTHY O'KEEFE, one of the real poetry publishers of the 1960s and 1970s, died in January at the age of sixty-seven. He was editorial director of MacGibbon and Kee, and when they were consumed by Granada he set up his own imprint with two friends: Martin, Brian and O'Keefe. His most ambitious single achievement may have been ta publish Hugh MacDiarmid's original Complete Poems. His list brought William Carlos William's prose and verse to Britain and was instrumental in promoting Patrick Kavanagh. He undertook the unexpurgated True Confessions of George Barker, the Complete Poems of e.e Cummings, work by John Montague, John Hewitt and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The First World War poet Francis Ledwidge was put back into print by this doughty publisher. He kept his own imprint going, on a modest but serious scale, until his death.

The Algerian poet YOUCEF SEBTI, a member of the distinguished 'generation of 1970', died at El Harrach in December at the age of fifty. A francophone writer, he was the eighteenth Algerian intellectual to have died in the last year of political unrest. Poetry was only one of his vocations: he was also a research chemist and a lecturer, ultimately at the National Institute of Agronomy near Algiers.

SYLVIA BATAILLE was buried in Montparnasse cemetery on Christmas Eve, having died of a heart attack two days earlier. Le Monde was touching in its precisions: she became Lacan's mistress in 1938, his companion in 1940, the mother of his child in 1941 and his wife in 1953. (DA)

On 30 November Lord Palumbo, retiring chairman of the Arts Council, issued a press release condemning the reduction in Arts allocation by 1.69 per cent (3 2 million) as 'a needless budget cut, one which will inflict disproportionate harm on the arts up and down the country … a black day for the arts and a national disgrace'. From 1 April 1994, responsibility for the Scottish and Welsh Arts Councils will pass to the Scottish and Welsh Offices respectively.

CEES NOOTEBOOM was awarded the 1993 Aristeion Prix Littéraire Européen for l'Histoire suivante.

BO CARPELAN received the 1993 Finlandia Prize in December for his new novel Urwind.

IAN MCEWAN was awarded the 1993 Fémina Prize for a foreign writer on publication in France of his 1987 novel The Child in Time.

The 1993 FORWARD POETRY PRIZES went to Carol Ann Duffy (Best Collection), Don Paterson (Best First Collection) and Vicki Feaver (Best Single Poem).

From April 22 - 24 the CAMBRIDGE POETRY FESTIVAL will take place at Kings. Readings, papers, discussion, video and music are promised, and among the poets who will attend are Barbara Guest, Fanny Howe and Jacques Roubard. Further information is available from Ian Patterson, Box 940, Kings College, Cambridge. On the same April weekend the University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education is running a course in CONTEMPORARY POETRY. Contributors to this rather different event include Neil Corcoran (whose provocative new book English Poetry since 1940 was recently published by Longman), Bernard O'Donoghue, Jem Poster, Anne Stevenson. Bernard Richards, Craig Raine, Edward Larrissy and Helen Dunmore. Details are available from The Literature Secretary, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, Oxford 0X1 2JAD.

Of the numerous announcements for competitions one stands out in partiular, The NATIONAL AUTISTIC SOCIETY POETRY COMPETITION with sponsored prizes of between £50 and £350 Les Murray, William Scammell and Patricia Pogson will be the judges and the proceeds go to the fund raising appeal for a new school in Leeds for Autistic Children with challenging behaviour. For further information, send an SAE to NAS Poetry Competition, Watergate Barn, Loweswater CA13 ORU.

Two journals on translation are invaluable to practising translators and to readers interested in foreign literature and the ways in which it reaches English-language readers. Translation Review, published by the University of Texas at Dallas, concentrates on its double issue 42/3 on transmission, with articles on 'Manuscripts in Search of a Publisher' and Morris Philipson's very illuminating piece on how publishers choose translators. There are also profiles of American publishing houses with specialist commitments in the field of translation. Exchanges, edited by Daniel Weissbort and published by the Translation Workshop at the University of Iowa, combines a concern with translation theory and a hands-on interest in the rendering of specific texts from a veritable Babel of languages. Both magazines are approachable and, if uneven, of considerable interest to curious general readers as well as to specialists.

The tendentiously, not to say joylessly, right-wing American magazine Chronicles has published a curious article insinuating that Maya Angelou's awkward, sprawling poem read at the Clinton inauguration and reviewed in these pages by Richard Francis was, in some way, plagiarised from a poem by Norton F.Tennille Jr. Mr Tennille had written a poem with. 'A Rock, A River, A Tree' in it. So, for that matter, did Wordsworth. Apparently Ms Angelou has not responded to the insinuation, and if she has any sense, she won't.

It is possible, for about $1500 a week, to stay in Naulaklia, the house which Rudyard Kipling had built in Dummerston, near Brattleboro, Vermont. This is where he wrote Captain's Courageous and The Jungle Books and where he began the Just So Stories. It's reputed to be a dark sort of dwelling, in keeping with the troubled years he spent there.

This item is taken from PN Review 96, Volume 20 Number 4, March - April 1994.

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