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This item is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

News & Notes
INDEX ON CENSORSHIP relaunches in the Spring. Future issues will appear every two months in the form of a large paperback book. Index will be more extensive and add to its legendary coverage regular debates, media and book reviews, interviews and a diary column. The editor Ursula Owen continues to insist that Index is a journal in which voices not normally heard can speak, and the 'Babel' feature in each issue will be their rostrum. Already the magazine has taken interesting - and sometimes contentious - new initiatives, stressing the voices of women and opening themes out unexpectedly. The most recent issue includes Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, with a bitter memoir-narrative. 'In the epidemic of nationalism and ethnic and religious strife,' Owen writes, 'in the proliferation of market forces and new technology, censorship, media control and the silencing of dissident voices are crucial issues.'

The art of poetry receives such limited critical attention in the press that it's disheartening to find the POETRY SOCIETY once again under attack in the papers. The institution associated in many people's minds with the pettiness of the poetry world is compelled to spend a disproportionate amount of its limited time resources on defending itself. Its problems are - like the Labour Party's - largely constitutional, its deepest foes are members with an interest in taking control. Their dissent makes good copy as they chew over old battles; less newsworthy is the routine positive work the Society does, with its magazine (Poetry Review), its reading and educational programmes and its attempts at outreach. Those who do not live in London may feel that the Poetry Society today is more of a national institution than it was in the old threadbare days of Earl's Court Square, where upkeep of the building seemed to absorb most of the energies of the officers.

In other cultures poetic controversy is of an entirely different kind. In November Richard Dowden of the Independent, reported: 'A recent seminar in London brought together Somalis from almost all clans and factions and the organisers were surprised and delighted that they were able to debate amicably until, that is, the session on Somali poetry began. Participants had to be held down and the session ended in a walkout and nearly in violence. Somali poetry, the great oral tradition of a nomadic culture, is full of war and revenge. It is said that in Somalia a poem can start a war.'

One of the dominant voices this year at the summer writers' reunion at Lahti in Finland was that of VIKTOR KRIVULIN. A former dissident, bearded and shaggy, he spoke of how literature's dominance in Russian culture - literature as the point where ideological probity was most clearly evinced and ideological controls most harshly imposed - was at an end. The advent of post-modernism offered the 'freedom to read ideological statements, old and new, simply as texts existing among many others'. Once that freedom becomes itself a form of bondage, as it has in other cultures, further emancipations may be called for. Krivulin was obliquely answered by the Finland-Swedish poet Claes Andersson, who commented that in 1993, unlike 1991, 'no one has even mentioned Jacques Derrida.'

Carcanet published in the late 1980s Janet Louth's translations of three novels by the then little-known EMMANUEL BOVE, a favourite of Rilke's, Beckett's and Wim Wenders's. Bove's star in France remains decidedly in the ascendant, writes David Arkell. The tally of reprinted titles now stands at twenty-five. Two decades ago this writer, who died in 1945, was almost forgotten. All the reprinted books are novels, one his translation of Dickens's A Tale of Two Cities, the rest his own. A recent report suggested that his popularity now compares to that of Simenon. For a brief study of his work, see PNR 73.

The shortlist for the prestigious and lucrative (£5000) new T.S. ELIOT PRIZE, to be awarded on, 20 January, has been announced. The ten poets, represented by their most recent collections, are: Moniza Alvi, Patricia Beer, Ciaran Carson, Carol Ann Duffy, Douglas Dunn, James Fenton, Stephen Knight, Les Murray, Sharon Olds and Don Paterson. The organisers - the Poetry Book Society - originally hoped for a Prix Goncourt feel, all the poets assembling from the round earth's imagined corners, to have nine go away empty-handed. It may be necessary to devise a more humane climax.

Fleur Adcock is in her third and final year as judge of the biennial STAPLE OPEN POETRY COMPETITION, 1994. There will be £750 in prizes, including a £75 book prize. The closing date is 1 January, giving PNR readers rather short notice. Entries should be postmarked no later than 31 December. The entry fee is £2.00 per poem (£1.00 for Staple subscribers). For full details contact Staple, Tor Cottage, 81 Cavendish Road, Matlock, Derbyshire DE4 3HD. The BRITISH COMPARATIVE LITERATURE ASSOCIATION announces its Translation Competition for 1993. Prizes will be awarded for the best literary translation from any language into English, with special prizes for translations from Persian, Swedish, Hebrew or Yiddish. Entries are due by 15 January. Details are available from Dr NJ. Crowe, St John's College, Oxford OXI 3JP. There is news, too, of the SECOND SHEFFIELD THURSDAY competitions with details from School of Cultural Studies, Sheffield Hallam University, Collegiate Crescent Campus, Sheffield S10 2BP. And from Mario Petrucci of 72 First Avenue, Bush Hill Park, Enfield, Middlesex EN1 1BW (who can provide full details), we learn of a £1000 competition for the BLUE NOSE POETS-OF-THE-YEAR.

'LITTLE IDDENS', the cottage three miles north of Dymock in Gloucestershire where Edward Thomas and Robert Frost dug the potato patch in the golden summer of 1914, with such momentous consequences for English poetry, was sold by auction in October for £39,000 to a builder from Newport who 'wasn't specially poetic but had fallen in love with the place'. MAX GATE, Hardy's house in Dorset, has also been in the news: there are agitators keen that it should be opened to the public, and pressure on the National Trust is mounting. Currently it is let to private tenants and closed to the general public. The rents are used to maintain Hardy's birthplace at Higher Bockhampton, with its unexpectedly low lintels which stun countless unwary visitors, and a vertiginously perilous set of stairs.

Montserrat Lunati of the School of European Studies, University of Wales, P.O. Box 908, Cardiff CFl 3YQ, reports that the Hispanic Studies Department will be publishing an international journal dedicated to the literature and culture found in Spanish-, Catalan-and Portuguese-speaking areas of the world. The journal Tesserae will appear biannually.

This item is taken from PN Review 95, Volume 20 Number 3, January - February 1994.

Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to
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