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This item is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

News & Notes
A report from the Academic and Professional Publishers' Council has underlined the precipitate fall in academic library spending, a fall from which most great libraries will find recovery hard. In 1990, the average academic book cost £26. Universities spent on books an average of £44 per annum per student - about 1-5 books a year. The old Polytechnics, after their promotion intended to compete on equal terms with the Universities, spent £23 per student, less than a book a year. In the last ten years there has been a 32 per cent decline in University library funding and a 56 per cent decline in Polytechnic provision - in total £36 million in real terms.

The Library Campaign, devoted to Public Libraries, is getting up steam. Reminding us that Britain has the best public library system in the world, with 4000 staffed branches in the UK, including mobile libraries for remote areas, it reports that opening hours have been cut by almost 15 per cent since 1975; book funds have declined by almost 32 per cent since 1978. Books issued per person have declined by 15 per cent in the last five years because choice has narrowed and libraries are open less often. The Library Campaign, 2nd Floor, 1-5 Bath Street, London EC1V 9QQ invites new members keen to work for the survival and extension of the service.

The Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1993 on the theme of Human Rights begin on 4 February in the Sheldonian, with Catharine MacKinnon. Other speakers during the month include Steven Lukes, John Rawls, Agnes Heller, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Jon Elster and Richard Rorty. Tickets are available from Blackwell's Music Shop, Holywell Street, Oxford, or by phone - credit card bookings - on (0865) 792792, extension 452.

A double issue of Modern Hebrew Literature (Spring/Fall 1992, 8-9 New Series) is devoted in large part to the second generation of Hebrew writers dealing with the Holocaust, those who follow on from the first-hand witness of writers like Uri Orlev and Aharon Appelfeld. The supplement, subtitled 'Trends in Israeli Fiction in the 1980s', is an interesting window on a resourcefulness of memory and invention, checked it would seem by a formal conventionalism. (Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature, Steimatsky House, 11 Hakishon Street, Bnei Brak, Israel)

Felix Stefanile, one of the most eloquent American translators of Italian Poetry, has sent us 'the first issue of the re-incarnated Sparrow devoted to the contemporary sonnet, and related matters'. It is an eccentric and cheerful contribution to the new formalism debate. Sparrow was originally published in 1954, and the reincarnated or re-feathered version is number 59, available from 103 Waldron Street, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906 USA.

PeterIoo's Open Poetry Competition has doubled the winner's purse to £2000, and the poem that triumphs will appear in the Guardian. But there is the usual catch: it costs £3.50 to enter one poem; additional poems get in at concessionary rates: @£2.50. At the finishing line, eagle-eyed and with stop-watches, are Dannie Abse, Jackie Kay, Susan Roberts and Harry Chambers. Details from Peterloo Poets, 2 Kelly Gardens, Calstock, Cornwall PL18 9SA.

The Kent and Sussex Poetry Society announce the continuation of their Open Poetry Competition. It costs less to enter - £2 per poem - but the stakes are more modest, too: the first prize is £300. E.A. Markham is the judge. (John Arnold, 39 Rockington Way, Crowborough, E. Sussex TN6 2NJ)

Angel Books has celebrated its tenth anniversary. These publishers of new translations of 19th and 20th century literature have developed a distinguished list and the founder, Antony Wood (translator of Pushkin), insists that he will 'continue to push back the frontiers of world literature'. Authors he has sought to revive for modern readers include Goethe, Dostoevsky, Mandelstam, Stifter, Garshin, Hasek and Leskov. Theodor Fontane's novel Cécile in Stanley Radcliffe's translation marks the anniversary. (Angel Books, 3 Kelross Road, London N5 2QS)

Herbert Lomas has been awarded the 1992 Finnish Government Prize for Translation of Finnish Literature in recognition of twenty years' work on the poetry of the language, culminating in his wonderful anthology Contemporary Finnish Poetry.

The Sycamore Press has sent us the booklet with which it marks its 25th anniversary, David Harsent's Storybook Hero (£3.00). The publisher John Fuller recalls how Sycamore's first booklet was James Fenton's first, too, 'now much sought after by collectors'; and Gerard Woodward also appeared first in collection from Sycamore. In the old days the type was hand set; now a degree of technology has been introduced, without harming the literary quality of the product. (Sycamore Press, 4 Benson Place, Oxford OX2 6QH)

The German town of Stendal, from which Stendhal (with an 'h') derived his pseudonym, is to be twinned with Grenoble, his birthplace. (DA)

Dennis Carter, supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, is eager to discover and explore approaches to the teaching of poetry to primary children (5-11 years) which are successful, innovative, interesting, high in quality … Mr Carter welcomes information on specific practice. The main aim of the project is to establish the aesthetic base for primary poetry teaching and to identify the teaching and learning processes which serve this. (Dennis Carter, Clwyd Poetry Project, Theatr Clwyd, Mold CH7 'IYA)

'You've been getting into bed with them for years; isn't it time you met them in public?'

The Harbourfront International Festival of Authors' advertisement in the Toronto papers had been picquing interest in the festival for a couple of weeks before the festival itself kicked off, the same week the Toronto Blue Jays finally made it to baseball valhalla, and began their first World Series game with the Atlanta Braves.

Despite the conflict of interests - or perhaps Toronto book-lovers are among the very few, in a city which went bananas over line drives, pop flies, and extra-base hits, who would rather meet an author than an athelete - ticket sales for the 1992 festival, at $16 a shot, were brisk, and attendance gratifyingly high yet again.

Pulling them in to this 15th annual event which ran from October 14-24, authors as various as Clare Boylan, Margaret Atwood, Annie Dillard, William Golding and Booker prizewinner Michael Ondaatje, were among the 84 writers who worked 19 mainstage readings, and 18 Lives and Times biography lecture/readings.

In addition, four literary awards were made on the opening night of the festival, totalling $87,000, including one of $50,000 to American historian David McCullagh for Truman, his seminal biography of president Harry Truman, which he spent 10 years compiling and writing.

Literary Director Greg Gatenby's festival line-up this year included Booker Prize winners, Nobel laureates and Pulizer Prize winners, among authors who came to Toronto from 22 countries. Britain was represented by Douglas Adams, Howard Brenton, Jim Crace, Martha Gellhorn, William Golding, Hammond Innes, Michael Moorcock, Ahdaf Soueif, Graham Swift, John Wain and Marina Warner - a mixed-enough bag between anyone's sheets.

Earlier in the week, in a taster for the festival, Michael Ondaatje, Janice Kulyk Keefer, and humorist Paul Quarrington, who was a recent winner of the international Stephen Leacock Award for humor, spent an evening at a reception given by Holt Renfrew, one of Toronto's toniest department stores, talking about their writing to a crowd of Toronto literatists, who as accident would have it, were invited to attend on the very evening Holt Renfrew set out its fall collection of fashions and accessories. Apart from the reception, which it gave to promote the International Festival of Authors of course, and not its fall glad-rags, HR also made a gift to each of the authors of a suit of their choice. Quarrington got a dark Hugo Boss double-breasted number, while Ondaatje and Kulyk Keefer got Georgio Armani dudes. None looked super-comfortable in their gifted finery, though JKK looked most at ease. Happily, they were not required to do an impromptu endorsement, and while Ondaatje did say his suit was the most expensive clothes he'd ever worn, he hired a tuxedo for the Booker thrash … and then left his winner's cheque in the pocket, by all accounts. Moss Bros, should be so lucky!


This item is taken from PN Review 89, Volume 19 Number 3, January - February 1993.

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