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This item is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.

News & Notes Compiled by Eleanor Crawforth

The 2007 Pablo Neruda Iberoamerican Poetry Award was granted to the Cuban poet and essayist FINA GARCÍA MARRUZ in July. The Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, collected the award on behalf of García Marruz, who could not attend due to ill health, from Chilean President Michelle Bachelet at a ceremony in Valparaíso, Chile. Bachelet said that the work of García Marruz 'comes to us along with the echoes of so many essential writers who were born in Cuba and whose work has been praised in the Americas and around the world'. The award, added the President, exists 'to pro-mote dialogue in a continent that does not want to live turning back in on itself but facing a future of cooperation and mutual recognition'.

A memorial reading and concert to celebrate the life and works of the poet JOHN HEATH-STUBBS (1918- 2006) will take place at St James' Church, Piccadilly, London, at 12 noon on Saturday 29 September. A selection of Heath-Stubbs' poems will be read by his literary peers, successors and close friends; the event will also feature a performance of the Song Cycle from The Unicorns, his libretto with composer Peter Dickinson.

A substantial collection of books, periodicals and archival material subversive of twentieth-century conventional wisdom has been donated by C.J. Fox, a long-standing and valued contributor to PN Review, to the University of Victoria on Canada's west coast. More than half the collection concerns Wyndham Lewis and features pictures by and connected with him, but other independents abound, including C.H. Sisson, Ford Madox Ford, Richard Aldington, Edmund Wilson, Gottfried Benn, Ernst Jünger and Julian Symons. The material now forms part of the 'UVic' library's Special Collections, already home to large deposits of, among others, John Betjeman and the anarchist Sir Herbert Read, MC. The latter was a leading antagonist to Lewis: angry noises may well issue from the stacks after closing time.

New Zealand's premier poetry prize, the Montana Medal for Poetry, was awarded in July to JANET FRAME, for her collection The Goose Bath (Vintage). AIRINI BEAUTRAIS won the Best First Book of Poetry category for her collection Secret Heart (Victoria University Press).

The Poetry Business, one of the longest-established poetry publishers in the north of England, is under threat after twenty one years of supporting writing in Yorkshire and across the UK. From April 2007, all financial support from its local authority has been withdrawn. This represents a 40% reduction of its funding over the next three years. Huddersfield poet Simon Armitage with commendable restraint called the move 'short-sighted'. The Poetry Business produces The North magazine and publishes many award winning poets via its Smith/Doorstop Books imprint. It also organises a range of other poetry-related activities in the area. To pledge your support, contact Peter Sansom on edit@poetrybusiness.co.uk or write to The Poetry Business, The Studio, Byram Arcade, Westgate, Huddersfield, HD1 1ND.

NAZIK AL-MALAIKA, one of the pioneering Arab poets of the last century, has died in Cairo, aged 83. Born in Baghdad in 1923 into a cultured, literary family, Malaika wrote her first poems in classical Arabic forms at the age of ten. After graduating from teacher training college in Baghdad, she won a scholarship to study at Princeton University, going on to study comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin. Returning to Baghdad during the 1950s, she married a fellow university lecturer and with him helped to found the University of Basra. Later she taught in Kuwait for many years, but was forced to return to Iraq when Saddam Hussein invaded that country in 1990. She moved to Cairo when the Gulf War ended in 1991.

Malaika was an early exponent of the free verse movement in Arabic, breaking away from the rigid metres and prosodies of classical Arab poetry; she published her first volume of free-verse poetry, Shazaya wa ramad (Ashes and Shrapnel), in 1949. She was influenced by classical English as well as Arabic poets. A feminist, she employs stark yet lyrical language to reflect the reality of street life, as in 'To Wash Disgrace', her searing poem about honour killings. In a country fractured by sectarian strife, Malaika's poetry and criticism offer a reminder of Iraq's cultural renaissance in the mid-twentieth century, when Baghdad was considered the Paris of the Middle East.

The poet ARNOLD RATTENBURY has died at the age of 85. With his friends E.P. Thompson and G.M. Matthews, the Shelley scholar, Rattenbury became a committed Marxist while still at public school, and like them joined the Communist Party before the Second World War (in which they all fought). Among his closest friends were numbered the Marxists Edgell Rickword, with whom he worked on the communist arts paper, Our Time, Randall Swingler and Sylvia Townsend Warner.

His first collection of poems, Second Causes, was published in 1969, and five further collections followed. Rattenbury was a passionate admirer of William Morris, and a poet, writes John Lucas, 'of great wit and learning', skills he brought to bear on his work as a designer of exhibitions. His brilliantly original Young Bert, about D.H. Lawrence's early years, shown at the Castle Museum, Nottingham, in 1972, to inaugurate the city's first annual festival, was followed by exhibitions on Cycling and Clowning. In North Wales, where he and his wife lived from 1971, his love of the area led to the exhibition Ardudwy: A Catalogue of Things Made by Hand on Farms, in Quarries and at Sea, which sought, in his words, 'to know how bodies lived that had the hands'. A last collection of poems is due from Smokestack Books.

Poet and bacteriologist EDWARD LOWBURY has died at the age of 93. Born in London in 1913, Lowbury was educated at St Paul's School and qualified in Medicine at University College, Oxford, completing his studies at the Royal London Hospital. He went on to enjoy a long and distinguished medical career, achieving an international reputation for his research into hospital infection during the 1960s and 1970s. Poetry and medicine were the twin passions of his long life, although he took a mischievous enjoyment in keeping the strands separate, telling Outposts magazine in 1990 that he wore 'a plain trilby to the lab and an old pork-pie hat with a wavy brim when I went out with my artist and poet friends'. In 1990 he edited Apollo, an anthology of poems by doctor poets to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the British Medical Association.

Lowbury began writing poetry at an early age and - unusually for a scientist - won the prestigious Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1934 whilst studying at Oxford. Always a prolific poet, he published his first poetry collection, Port Meadow, in 1936 and a further fourteen volumes followed. A conventional yet skilful craftsman of metre and rhyme, he worked in a variety of forms. A Collected Poems was published in 1993 to mark his eightieth birthday. A further full collection, Mystic Bridge, appeared in 1997. Lowbury collaborated with his wife, Alison Young, daughter of the poet Andrew Young, on Thomas Campion: Poet, Composer, Physician (1970). The couple also co-edited To Shirk No Idleness (1997), a critical biography of his father-in-law, and Young's Selected Poems (1998) for Carcanet.

The poet and critic Donald Davie summed up Lowbury's poems as 'the representative temper of our times (wryly resigned, tentatively hopeful), expressed with unrepresentative ease and resourcefulness'. Lowbury was made an FRSL in 1974 and an OBE in 1979.

This item is taken from PN Review 177, Volume 34 Number 1, September - October 2007.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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