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This item is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.

News & Notes
In March Roland Gant, the writer and publisher, died. He will be best remembered in the poetry world for his advocacy of the work of Edward Thomas. At Seeker & Warburg he published the lyrics of Leonard Cohen. He edited Paul Scott and much of Anthony Powell's vast Dance and was himself a memoirist.

Also in March the latterly neglected but by surely durable American novelist John Hersey, author of - among many popular and compelling tales - A Bell for Adano (1944) and Hiroshima (1946), died at the age of 79.

Perilous as it may seem in the wake of the Letters and the Life, the Poetry Library on the South Bank quotes Larkin in wishing itself a happy 40th birthday. The Arts Council Poetry Library is one of the occasional pure flowerings of imagination for which the English are so seldom given credit: the creation of a public library devoted entirely to modern poetry … Let us be thankful' the old curmudgeon declared in public (his private opinions may have been quite similar). Yes, indeed: it is a genuinely public library, providing a remarkable service to readers of all degrees of seriousness, answering queries by post and phone, with a collection which is probably the most complete, and easily accessible, in the country. The Poetry Library has never been in better health, bucking the trends of declining loans in the rest of the public sector with a 10.6 per cent annual increase. It is open long hours (11am to 8pm) every day of the werk. It boasts, after its many homes throughout London, a fine space in the South Bank Centre and a devoted staff. The Voice Box, one of the most successful poetry performance venues in the country, is just beside it. It now has 11,000 members; 31,000 visitors and 13,000 telephone inquiries are welcomed each year. The birthday has been celebrated with readings by Derek Walcott, Paul Durcan, Les Murray, Carol Ann Duffy and others.

Agenda, in its latest double issue, celebrates the work of the Scottish poet Tom Scott, whose Collected Shorter Poems are to be published by Agenda Editions in the summer. The timely and welcome Scott issue, costing £8.00, is available from Agenda, 5 Cranbourne Court, Albert Bridge Road, London SW11 4PE. Apart from Scott's own poems, an interview and bibliography, there are essay and memoir contributions. The book of poems, running to 250 pages with an introduction by Sorley Maclean, are available for £12.00 from the same address.

The invaluable Poetry Book Society, celebrating its 40th birthday, is launching the generous and welcome T.S. Eliot Prize, £5000 for the best collection of new verse published in 1993. This prize for a book of poems rather than for a 'prize poem' is a welcome change from the proliferating conventional lotteries and may well bring recognition to new or neglected talent. A 'collection' is any publication of 32 or more pages in extent. A shortlist of seven to ten books will be announced at the beginning of September, and the award presented in January. Members of the Poetry Book Society itself will be invited to vote for their preference among the short-listed titles. This democratic gesture can be over-ruled by the five judges, but the membership's verdict will be made public all the same. Further information is available from Martha Smart at the PBS, 10 Barley Mow Passage, London W4 4PH.

By contrast with the T.S. Eliot prize, the Forward Poetry Prize with its £10,000 purse describes itself in the Sunday Times's words as 'a bardic Booker' and clearly the press release has been 'penned' by a particularly enthusiastic punter: 'The 1992 winners Thorn Gunn, Simon Armitage and Jackie Kay have set the standard and the race is now on to see who will stand in their shoes in 1993.' It was T.S. Eliot, I believe, who said 'there is no competition among poets'. Obviously he was wrong, but not this wrong. Those keen to fill last year's shoes should contact Christine Shaw, Head of Publicity, Book Trust on 081 870 9055. Margaret Drabble chairs the panel of judges.

The current revaluation of literature in Belarus has discovered the centrality of Larysa Henius (1910-1983). While obligatory Party pieces disfigure the work of even major writers like Dubouka, her uncompromisingly lyrical poems are an almost unbroken thread back to the 1920s, and her memoirs of life from Prague to the Culag, written when her village had become a place of secret pilgrimage, are a painful record of the cost to her and her family. To mark the tenth anniversary of her death the Francis Skaryna Library (37 Holden Road, London N12 8HS) has published a notebook, which appeared mysteriously in London in 1988, containing poems she wrote in 1945-7, before her arrest. Arnold McMillin provides an English introduction. Her aim was continuity rather than innovation, 'sky blue like flax in front of pyramids'. The young writers round Nasa Niva, revived in Vilnius after 80 years, reveal the vitality of the restored tradition.

C.J. Fox writes: Was that doughty ideological brave Wyndham Lewis in fact part Huron Indian? This is one tantalizing question broached in the extensively illustrated catalogue for an exhibition of paintings from his turbulent years in Canada, 1939-45. The show, originally mounted in Windsor, Ontario, is set for Toronto in September-November, after a summer display in Sackville, New Brunswick. Entitled The Talented Intruder, it highlights some pictures never exhibited before and suggests that the Lewis of those years was surprisingly productive. Most striking are rich imaginative drawings, ranging from 'creation myths' and paradisal islands to stylized crucifixions, Blake-like explorations of metaphysical motifs and stark designs prompted by the world war then raging. The catalogue reproduces a number of these in colour along with portraits and other pictures reflecting the painter-writer's encounters, ordeals and creativity in North America. Freshly detailed essays fill out the sketchy background to Lewis's novel of his exile, Self Condemned (Carcanet), document his Canadian ancestry and trace elaborate themes in his New World painting. The catalogue can be obtained from the Art Gallery of Windsor, 445 Riverside Drive West, Windsor, Ontario N9A 6T8, Canada, for CAN$25.00.

Anthony Howell (21 Augusta Street, Adamsdown, Cardiff CF2 1EN) is launching 'a magazine on VHS videotape for Art and Literature', Grey Suit. The aim is to establish 'a showcase where up-to-date pieces by today's writers and artists can be viewed by those who wish to keep their finger on the pulse of the avantgarde, however provocative some of the work featured may be'. It is an opportunity to build up a library of contemporary film, performance and creative experiments, and not least, poets in performance and interview. The critic is represented by 'The Tirade', 'a time-slot for informed opinion in a direct format'. Five issues are promised to first-issue subscribers for the (reasonable) price of four - £60 for individuals, £70 for institutions - and for that money, as well as the other art forms, you will receive insights into the poetry of F.T. Prince, Les Murray, Michael Donaghy, Caroline Bergvall, John Ashbery, Douglas Crase, Kazuko Shiraishi, Clarke Coolidge and others - an adventurous and international cast.

The sixth John Hewitt International Summer School takes place in July at St MacNissi's College, Garron Tower, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland (brochures and details of costs from the Director, Jack McCann). Speakers and writers participating this year include Cairns Craig, James Fenton, Michael Longley, Nuala O'Faolain and others. A few scholarships are available.

The Centre for Extension Studies, University of Technology, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU, offers holiday courses on poetry which may be of interest. Details are available from Margaret Gill (0509 222153).

John Wakeman's Norwich-based magazine Rialto has just published its 25th issue, '48 pages of clear, fresh new poetry'. Its eclectic, open policy resembles that of Howard Sergeant's (now Roland John's) Outposts, though the format is more spacious. Here established and first-time poets rub shoulders. Subscriptions are £8.00 a year for three issues (32 Grosvenor Road, Norwich NR2 2PZ).

New Fiction is an anthology programme in search of stories for regionally-based collections. Submissions should go to Suzi Blair, Managing Editor, 4 Hythegate, Werrington, Peterborough PE4 7ZP.

The magazine Bazaar, published by the South Asian Arts Forum, has announced its closure after grants from the Arts Council and the London Arts Board were withdrawn.

Poetry Wales features in its new number (Volume 28, Number 4) a symposium on 'Formal/Free verse'. The most beguiling contribution is editor Richard Poole's editorial, in rhymed couplets, some of them quite creditable: one can sense his thumb firmly on the scale. (The issue costs £2.50 from Andmar House, Tondu Road, Bridgend, Mid-Glamorgan CF31 4LJ.)

This item is taken from PN Review 92, Volume 19 Number 6, July - August 1993.



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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