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This item is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

News & Notes
The Scottish poet IAIN CRICHTON SMITH, whose death was briefly reported in the last issue of PN Review, has been widely mourned in Scotland and elsewhere. The Times obituary quoted a late essay by the poet in which he declared that 'a new music' was needed: 'Not a new imagery but a new music. Aristotle said that you could recognise a genuine poet by his metaphors, but I feel more and more that the really innovative poet is recognised by the music he brings into his work.' Iain Crichton Smith drew into his prosody elements from the Gaelic, but what makes him stand out so vividly from his contemporaries and successors is the fact that he is not an ironist, that he risks pulling out all the stops. He is not a neo-romantic but a romantic of a purer kind, imbued with a sense of the richness of human potential and a hatred of the forces that thwart and diminish it. His poetry, even at its most satiric and savage, is deeply affirmative.

The French poet, journalist and fiction writer PIERRE MARTORY died in October. He was 78. Writing in the Guardian John Ashbery, his friend, advocate and chief American translator, drew attention to his difference, his remoteness from the contemporary French scene and from antecedents. 'There is a touch of the gaiety of Charles Trenet and of René Clair's early films; of his favourite singers, Florel and Piaf. His poem from the early 1950s, Blues, epitomises the childish expectancy and the jaundiced spleen de Paris that mingle in his best work.'

The German writer, novelist, autobiographer and essayist ERNST JÜNGER - died earlier this year. He saw Halley's comet twice: in 1910, when he was fifteen, and in 1986, when he was ninety-two. He lived through, and served on the losing side in, two World Wars. Only a man who has lived through great changes can truly understand them, he declared. His writings remain brilliantly difficult, both in what they affirm, humanly and politically, and in what they refuse to concede. It is no wonder, given what we now know of Borges's political views, that he regarded Jünger as the one man worth meeting in Europe when he came to receive his Honorary degrees at Oxford and elsewhere. Jünger insisted on confronting the past even when public policy seemed to be deliberately to forget it. His role during the occupation of France and his reflections on politics guarantee that he will remain a figure of controversy. One of his most powerful books, The Foreign Legion, is presented as a memoir of his own adolescent flight into that institution in which it is possible for memory to be exchanged for discipline and oblivion.

GERMÁN LIST ARZUBIDE may have been the oldest poet in the world - until he died at the age of 100, in October. Born in Puebla in 1898, his adolescence was spent in the eye of the Revolutionary storm; he served with the egregious Venustiano Carranza. List Azurbide founded a literary movement, 'Stridentism', curiously analogous to Vorticism, though generally (and misleadingly) associated with Surrealism; he was a committed trades unionist and remained an activist in literature and theatre, though his activities became increasingly marginal in Mexico after 1968.

The Spanish poet and story-writer GLORIA FUERTES died in Madrid in November at the age of eighty. She joined the post-war group that called itself 'Postismo' - an early manifestation of post-modernism. The 1950s were her most fruitful poetic years; thereafter she became a successful broadcaster and children's writer.

INDEX ON CENSORSHIP dedicate their most recent number to the censorship of music, the magazine issued with a fascinating CD. They do not distinguish sufficiently, however, between the censorship of lyrics and libretti - what language is using music to formalise and amplify - and the censorship of forms as practised by the Stalinists. One activity is an extension of textual censorship, the other a more subtle and fascinating phenomenon; both are equally damaging.

The first issue of SAMIZDAT has just been published by Robert Archambeau at 14 Campus Circle, Lake Forest, IL, USA 60045 ($10 per subscription). Samizdat is an independent tabloid-format journal. The first issue contains new poems by John Peck, Ken Smith, Stephanie Strickland, Reginald Gibbons and others; translations of Adam Zagajewski, Jesper Svenbro and Ilya Kutik. There are critical articles and reviews. The first half of Michael Barrett's ambitious poem 'Babylons' in particular distinguishes the first issue (the second half will appear in the second issue).

International Arts Quarterly Digest which keeps Arts Administrators abreast of EU policy reports that, due to 'the summer impasse between the Community institutions', the result of a European Court of Justice ruling, the Commission has no legal right to organise pilot schemes. 'Meanwhile,' the report says, 'the European Parliament's Committee on Culture, Youth, Education and the Media' (quite a Committee, that) 'will consider a draft report on the Commission's Culture 2000 proposals, that seeks a sectoral rather than integrated programme and a significant increase in the budget to ECU 250 million'. If Sectoral is another way of saying regional, or even national, they may just be on to something...

The RICHARD WILBUR SOCIETY has issued its first newsletter. Fortunately the poet and incomparable translator is being treated to an institutionalised fan club well before his demise. It is, however, 51 years since the publication of The Beautiful Changes, his first book of poems. The Society is formed by people who feel that Wilbur 'has received only passing attention from literary critics'. This, despite two Pulitzers and countless other awards and honours. Those wishing to join the Society can write to Paul Sonnenburg, 5411 Carolina Place, NW, Washington, DC 20016-2525 USA (e-mail

This item is taken from PN Review 125, Volume 25 Number 3, January - February 1999.

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