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

This item is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.

News & Notes
The Lithuanian-born poet Menke Katz died in April, aged 85. The first nine of his eighteen books of verse were in Yiddish, but chart a steady movement away from the socialist realist orthodoxy once prevalent in Yiddish literary circles. The highly personal, often erotic poems of Three Sisters (1932) and his Pulitzer prize nominated Burning Village (1938) - a two-volume epic based on an immigrant's journey from Michalishek to New York - caused a sensation. News of Stalin's murder of prominent Soviet Yiddish writers in the early 1950's completed his estrangement from the Left. Disinherited, Katz turned to English and won rapid acceptance for his new work in American journals and newspapers, from Atlantic Monthly to the New York Times. Intent on making English his own, Katz developed the distinctive unrhymed 'Menke Chant Royal', supporting the innovation with a vigorous polemic against the use of rhyme in serious poetry, 'Aspects of Modern Poetry' (1967). At the time of his death Katz was preparing the 100th and final issue of his poetry quarterly, Bitterroot.

Christopher Holme, the distinguished radio producer, died in June. Born in Burma in 1905, he spent the war years separated from his parents at an English preparatory school run by his step-aunt and uncle. In 1921 he entered Rugby, going on to read classics at Oxford where he shared a house with Louis MacNeice and two others during his final year. Holme did little work, enjoyed himself vastly, and managed to get two poems published in the prestigious journal Transition. Other friends from this period included Robert Graves and Laura Riding and the painter John Aldridge. In 1931 Holme joined Reuters, serving as a correspondent in Berlin, where he covered the Reichstag fire trials and had the dubious privilege of shaking hands with Hitler. There followed assignments in Spain (he was one of the first foreign newsmen to enter Guernica), and Vienna, 'escaping' after the Anschluss with his half-jewish Austrian assistant. Holme spent his second war in Jerusalem as Public Information Officer, marrying in 1945 on a brief leave of absence. He joined the BBC in 1948 as Assistant Director of the Third Programme, soon switching to the Features Department where he remained until 1972. Holme's numerous productions included The Diary of Ann Frank and The Ballad of Peckam Rye, for Which he was awarded the Italia prize. During these years he was an active translator and commissioner of translations, introducing a whole generation of post-war German writers to the BBC. He was an accomplished poet in his own right, a keen ornithologist, an enthusiastic gardener and DIY man.

In June the first Independent Award for Foreign Fiction, worth £10,000, went to Immortality by Milan Kundera, translated by Peter Kussi. A special award was also given to Rain in the Wind by Saiichi Maruya, translated by Dennis Keene.

This year the Cholmondeley Award for services to poetry has gone to Sujata Bhatt, Michael Hulse, Derek Mahon and James Berry.

We have received the first number of New Zealand books, planned as a quarterly publication 'to reflect the upsurge of activity in New Zealand publishing and writing'. The publisher is the newly formed Peppercorn Press, a co-operative venture whose members include Lauris Edmond and Vincent O'Sullivan; they intend to issue monographs, poetry and essays. Peppercorn has an eye to design as well as lively content, and the first issue promises well. A year's subscription is NZ$30 (a snip!) for overseas readers: apply to Ms Annette Harvey, 35 Havelock Street, Wellington 2, New Zealand.

The Biggar Museum Trust, responsible for - among other things - preserving the last Gas Works in Scotland, has launched a campaign to convert Hugh MacDiarmid's Brownsbank Cottage into a home for a specially appointed writer in residence.

Christopher Murray Grieve occupied the cottage on a rent-free lease for 27 years, until his death in 1978. It is hoped that part of the premises will be open to the public by the centenary of the poet's birth in August 1992. MacDiarmid, who once mocked the cultish preoccupation with 'the birthplaces and various dwelling places and last resting-places' of famous writers, also insisted that, 'I never had anything but hatred and opposition for depro-letarianizing back-to-the-Iand-schemes'. Brownsbank Cottage stands in the lee of a wood, looking across fields to the Peebleshire hills.

It is the Trust's aim to raise an initial sum of £50,000, 'to bring the cottage up to a reasonably modern standard of amenity'. Those wishing to contribute should contact Ann Hornal at the Biggar Museum Trust, 15 Burnside Terrace, Biggar ML12 6BY, Scotland.

The newly-established British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia has appointed its first Translator in Residence. He is Adam Czerniawski, the Polish poet and translator, whose latest publications include People on a Bridge (Forest Books), translations of poems by Wislawa Szymborska, and The Mature Laurel (Seren Books), an edition of essays on modern Polish poetry.

The British Centre for Literary Translation also offers two monthly translation bursaries. The Centre is the inspiration of the Austrian writer Max Sebald, who is a professor of German at the University of East Anglia; it is funded by the Arts Council, The European Commission and the Council of Europe.

Hot on the heels of last year's inauguration of the British Haiku Society, Japan Festival (Wales) and the Welsh Academy have launched an international competition celebrating the exacting verse form. The winning entrant will receive £500, with the same prize money going to the author of the best haiku written in Japanese. There is no financial encouragement for Welsh-speaking Haikuphiles. Successful contenders can also look forward to seeing their work rendered into poster form by woodblock artist Paul Peter Piech. The competition officially closes on 1 November. For an entry form send a stamped addressed envelope to: International Haiku Competition, P.O. Box 438, Cardiff CF1 6UA.

The poems of David Winzar, who died in 1988 at the age of thirty five, are now available in a recently published book, Common Mallow. A contributor to Oxford Poetry Now in the mid seventies, David Winzar won the Newdigate Prize in 1976. He was featured by John Wain in Professing Poetry, but did not seek publication for the meticulously crafted, spare and penetrating poems he continued to write in the seventies and eighties. With the wit and the economy of the two very different contemporary poets David Winzar most admired, Hill and Larkin, these poems explore the claims and the craft of devotion, in both a religious and an artistic sense of the word. Ultimately, and most movingly, they confront the knowledge of impending death. This finely produced hardback book is obtainable from Manor Green Press, 73 Manor Green Road, Epsom, Surrey, KT19 8RN for £5.000 (all proceeds to cancer research).

This item is taken from PN Review 81, Volume 18 Number 1, September - October 1991.



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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