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PN Review 276
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This item is taken from PN Review 127, Volume 25 Number 5, May - June 1999.

News & Notes
The Truman Capote Lifetime Award for Literature, worth $100,000, was awarded to GEORGE STEINER in New York on 9 April.

Although HARRY FORD, who died earlier this year, apparently developed such an early passion for literature that he dropped out of Columbia after concluding that the college's literary standards did not measure up to his own, he seems to have gravitated to poetry almost by accident. Ford, who was a native of Philadelphia, worked in a series of bookshops before he got a job in 1945 with the old publishing house of Reynal and Hitchcock, where a legendary editor, Albert Erskine, guided him into poetry, though not at the expense of his main duties and talents in production and design. Ford had such an artistic flair for designing books and their jackets that it long remained his major speciality in publishing, one that won him considerable acclaim in the industry even as he was developing his reputation as a poetry editor. Indeed, when he joined Knopf in 1947, it was as assistant production manager and design director. His work with poets was a sideline. Even when in 1959 he left Knopf, his new job at Atheneum was initially that of production design director, and he only gradually took over and built the impressive list of poets from which, when he returned to Knopf, thirteen books were published almost immediately. Precisely because poetry is such a perennial stepchild of publishing, Ford's devotion to poetry and his loyalty to poets helped make him unique. Although he could be equally blunt in telling his poets why he was rejecting their latest submission, Ford seems not to have offended many of them, and poets were always dedicating their works to him. In 1986 he received the PEN American Centre's Eighth Biennial Publisher Citation, and the next year the Academy of American Poets sponsored a reading in his honour. In 1992, when the National Poetry Series created an Editor's Award, Harry Ford was the first recipient.

The Scottish poet, reviewer and editor BILL TURNER (aka W. Price Turner) died in Lincoln in September at the age of 71. His first book, The Rudiment of an Eye, appeared in 1955, to a warm welcome from Poetry Chicago and the Sewanee Review as well as quarters nearer home. In 1960, Turner was awarded a poetry fellowship at Leeds, the first Scot to hold one at an English university. In recent years, he continued to review, to tutor Arvon courses and to write poetry. As an editor, he deserves respect for the eclecticism of The Poet in the rather conformist climate of the 1950s. Its final issue featured William Carlos Williams, e.e. cummings, Cid Corman and, impressively, Roy Fisher - still in 1957 completely unknown. Turner's most recent collection is Fables for Love (Peterloo).

The American poet JOHN FREDERICK NIMS died in January at his home in Chicago. Educated at Notre Dame and the University of Chicago, he taught at Toronto and Harvard, and held visiting fellowships in Milan, Florence and Madrid. Nims was the beau idéal of the late-modern American man of letters, editing a famous anthology, a much-studied reader, and Poetry magazine. Eight volumes of his own work appeared between 1947 (The Iron Pastoral) and 1990 (The Six-Cornered Snowflake). He was known for his elegant translations of everyone from Euripides (Andromache) to St John of the Cross, both published in 1959, and from Sappho to Valéry, the title of his influential (and still in print) collected translations. Last year saw the appearance of The Complete Poems of Michelangelo, when Nims was 84 years old. A Catholic, a careful craftsman, and a Don Juan of words in at least six languages, one thinks of him when reading the epigraph (Pindar, Pythian III) of his stately approximation to 'The Graveyard by the Sea' - 'Do not be anxious, dear soul, for eternal / life, but make what you can of the possible.'

R. GERALLT JONES OBE died at his home in Ceredigion in January, aged 65. He was a man whose influence was far-reaching and lasting. His list of publications in English and Welsh is enormous, and writing was his abiding passion. Born on the Llyn Peninsula, he relived his childhood memories in a largely autobiographical series made for the Welsh television channel, S4C in the early 1980s. He was educated at the University of Wales, returning in 1961 to lecture in education. In 1965 he became Principal of Mandeville Teacher Training College in Jamaica. After a time as Headmaster of Llandovery College, he took up the post of Warden at Gregynog, the University of Wales's conference centre in Mid Wales, where he remained until his formal retirement in 1995. In 1996 he was appointed OBE, following awards such as the Prose Medal of the National Eisteddfod, the Hugh MacDiarmid Trophy and the Welsh Arts Council Poetry Prize for his work over the years.

CALLUM MACDONALD who died on 24 February this year, was one of the most significant Lewismen of his generation and one of the most unassuming. He played a key role in Scotland's literary renaissance and his influence will be felt for many years to come. He received an Arts Council award for services to literature in 1972 and was elected an Honorary Member of the Scottish Library Association ten years later. His portrait now hangs in the National Portrait Gallery. An acknowledgement of his work and life comes in the form of a poem written by his friend Angus Calder, which was read at his funeral:

When the great Scottish poets
brought home from the Desert
their scarred, tanned muses -
who was there to greet them?
When the National Service generation
scribbled their shy new metaphors -
who would publish them?
Scotland itself
could have been a museless desert
but for one person,
not the least of Clan Donald,
man of hot metal
and Hector of the printing press,
whose cigarette will never be stubbed out.

JOAN BROSSA, one of this century's leading Catalan artists, poets and creators of works for the theatre has died at the age of 79. Everything Brossa did was a kind of poem, but his was a poetry without limits, often bizarre and ironical. After going to war at the age of seventeen, Brossa experimented with Surrealist writing, supporting himself by doing magic tricks: he believed that magic was closely related to poetry. In 1947 he set up the important Catalan avant-garde group Dau al Set together with Joan Prats, Arnau Puig, Antoni Tapies, Modest Cuixart and Joan Josep Tharrat. In 1949 he published his first book of poems and mounted his first theatrical production, and in 1951 showed his first visual poems in Barcelona. The police had his texts in Catalan removed. At the time of his death, the city of Barcelona was preparing to celebrate Brossa's eightieth birthday. Two books of poems are about to be published, and a new performance and theatre space in Barcelona, El Espai Escenic Joan Brossa, is to unveil Brossa's huge visual poem which will take a permanent place on its façade.

Poet and teacher MARIO PETRUCCI is to confront the subject of war in his new post of Poet in Residence at the Imperial War Museum. Set up as part of the Poetry Society's nationwide Poetry Places project, funded by the Arts Council of England's Lottery Department, the residency will generate a number of educational projects involving schools around the country and the Poetry Society's website. The placement will be a novel departure for the museum who have previously had artists-in-residence, but never a poet.

In discussions of the Oxford University Press's policy on contemporary poetry, the assumption seems to be that after they had embarked on Hopkins in 1918, no contemporary work was published until the 1960s. In fact the Press did continue with contemporaries, says Anne Ridler, although its poets are now out of fashion. Robert Bridges' A Testament of Beauty was acclaimed as a major work, and the publishers thought the same of the collected poems of Lascelles Abercrombie, issued in the 1930s. The jacket of Ridler's own first book lists six other poets who were her contemporaries, among them, Thomas Hennell, Charles Williams and Kenneth Muir.

PIA TAFDRUP, a Danish poet, has won the coveted Nordic Council Literature Prize for 1999 worth £32,000. Tafdrup's work has been only sporadically translated. However, the Prize often leads to greater international interest in the winner's works.

PAUL KEEGAN has succeeded Christopher Reid as Poetry Editor at Faber and Faber. Keegan was educated in Ireland, Cumbria and the Oratory School, Birmingham. He read English at Oxford and has taught at the universities of York and California. He was Classics and Poetry Editor at Penguin for eight years and, since 1994, has been Advisory Editor to Penguin Classics.

CAROLINE CARVER has won the 1998 National Poetry Competition with her last minute entry 'horse under water'. She joins Tony Harrison, Carol Ann Duffy, James Berry and Ruth Padel in winning what has become an extremely popular competition. Entry forms for the 1999 National Poetry Competition will be available from the end of April. Contact Lisa Roberts on 0171 420 9895.

The Annual Judith E. Wilson Poetry Lecture 1999 is to be given by DENISE RILEY on 12 May at 5.00pm in the Little Hall, Sidgwick Site, University of Cambridge. For more information contact Claire Daunton on 01223 335216.

The thirtieth Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam will take place from 12-18 June. This year's theme seems to be climatic conditions and their extremes - with six poets travelling from the Caribbean, among them Derek Walcott, Olive Senior, Lorna Goodison and six from Iceland. Poets will be asked to choose their favourite pieces for inclusion in a twentieth-century poetry museum, marking the last festival of this century. Contact Tatjana Daan on +3110 282 2777.

The first issue of Mslexia the magazine 'for women who write' - appeared in March, the theme being erotic writing. One wonders what there is left to cover in the next issue, but submissions (by women obviously) are welcomed for writing from a male point of view, or about fat ladies and the 'tyranny of the flesh'. Envelopes should be marked 'Boys' or 'Blancmange'. Submissions should be sent to: PO Box 656, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 2XD.

Agenda's next issue is entitled Greek Poetry - New Voices and Ancient Echoes. With an introduction by Guest Editor David Connolly, the new double issue presents specially commissioned translations as well as an extensive section on the Greek Classics. Poetry readings on 29 and 30 April at the Hellenic Centre, London and Magdalen College, Oxford will launch the issue, with first UK appearances by Athina Papadaki, Manolis Pratikakis, Stratis Pascalis and Thanassis Hatzopoulos. For details contact Agenda, 5 Cranbourne Court, Albert Bridge Road, London SW11 4PP, Tel 0171 228 0700.

This item is taken from PN Review 127, Volume 25 Number 5, May - June 1999.

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