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This item is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

News & Notes Compiled by Eleanor Crawforth
California-born KAY RYAN was appointed the new US poet laureate in July. A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, her collections include The Niagara River (Grove Press, 2005), Say Uncle (2000), Flamingo Watching (1994), Strangely Marked Metal (1985) and Dragon Acts to Dragon Ends (1983). The poet J.D. McClatchy called Ryan 'an anomaly in today's literary culture: as intense and elliptical as Dickinson, as buoyant and rueful as Frost'.

Poet, critic and sci-fi writer TOM DISCH committed suicide on 4 July in New York, aged 68. Friends said he had been 'ground down by a sequence of catastrophes' in his personal life, including his apartment being devastated by a fire and the death of his partner of more than 30 years, poet Charles Naylor.
      A prolific and experimental writer, Disch worked in many genres, including speculative fiction (his preferred term for sci-fi), children's fiction, poetry, opera librettos, plays, cultural criticism and even a video game. One of his best-known works is The Brave Little Toaster: A Bedtime Story for Small Appliances (1986), in which a toaster, a clock radio and an electric blanket come to life. Disch's dark themes, disturbing plots, corrosive social commentary and sheer unpredictability distinguish him from fellow 'new wave' writers. His notable novels include Camp Concentration (1968), 334 (1972) and On Wings of Song (1979). Disch's poems are carefully crafted and reject sentimentality. The choice of subjects is often unusual, as in 'How to Behave When Dead', an etiquette for the interred. His most recent work was The Word of God: Or, Holy Writ Rewritten (2008), a novel controversially written from the perspective of God.

The 2008 Forward Poetry Prize shortlists were announced on 1 August. On the short-list for Best Collection are Sujata Bhatt's Pure Lizard, Jane Griffiths's Another Country, Jen Hadfield's Nigh-No-Place, Mick Imlah's The Lost Leader, Jamie McKendrick's Crocodiles & Obelisks and Catherine Smith's Lip. Worth £10,000, the Forward Prize is one of the UK's best-known poetry prizes. Among the other poets recognised are Andrew Forster, Frances Leviston and Kathryn Simmonds (for Best First Collection) and Seamus Heaney, Don Paterson and Tim Turnbull (for Best Single Poem). The winners will be announced on 8 October, the eve of National Poetry Day.

PN Review will host a debate on the future of independent literary magazines at the Manchester Literature Festival at 6pm on Friday 24 October at the John Rylands Library, Deansgate, Manchester. Chaired by PNR editor Michael Schmidt, the panel will include Philip Davis, editor of The Reader magazine, Margaret Obank, editor and co-founder of the Arab literature magazine Banipal, Adam Piette, founding editor of the online poetry journal Manifold ( and Fiona Sampson, editor of Poetry Review. Tickets are free but booking is advised: telephone 0870 428 0785 or visit

The Poetry Book Society announced on 31 July that the John S. Cohen Foundation is to sponsor the T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for the next three years, starting with the 2008 Prize, which will be awarded in January 2009. The Foundation includes the David Cohen Prize for Literature in its portfolio, which embraces culture, environment, conservation and heritage. The shortlist will be announced in November.

MICHAEL ROSEN, the Children's Laureate, is to chair the judging panel for the Old Possum's Children's Poetry Competition, a worldwide contest for 7-11 year olds. Named as a tribute to T.S. Eliot's much-loved Practical Cats, the competition is organised by the Children's Poetry Bookshelf, a book club for young people run by the Poetry Book Society. In keeping with the theme of National Poetry Day on 9 October, children are invited to write a poem in English of no longer than 25 lines on the theme of 'work'. Entries will be accepted from Thursday 11 September until Monday 20 October and the winners will be announced at a gala celebration in London in December. Visit for more information.

DANNIE ABSE won the 2008 Wales Book of the Year award for his memoir The Presence. Written after his wife Joan was killed in a car accident in 2005, the book, said the Independent, is 'supremely fresh and vital... matching profound emotion with witty observation... a truly marvellous book'. Spare a thought for Tom Bullough, author of The Claude Glass, however. In scenes of cringing embarrassment, he was incorrectly announced as the winner by the late Welsh Minister for Heritage Rhodri Glyn Thomas at the recent award ceremony. The video swiftly became the most viewed on the BBC's website. Following his disappointment, Bullough and his wife 'drove back home to Llanspyddid, wrung our hands and drank most of the whisky in the house'.

IAN FAIRLEY received the 2008 Schlegel- Tieck Prize for German Translation, for his work on Snow Part / Schneepart by Paul Celan (Carcanet, 2007). Administered by the Society of Authors, the prize takes its name from two great poets and translators of Shakespeare from the Romantic period, August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845) and Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853). A celebration of the £2,000 prize will take place on 29 September 2008 at the Southbank Centre in London.

The 2008 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize has issued a call for entries. An award of £1,750 or $3,000, with publication in the UK and USA by The Waywiser Press, is made annually for a collection in English by an author who has published no more than one previous book. Poets are asked to submit a manuscripts of 50-100 pages with a cheque for the entry fee of £15 or $25 (payable to The Waywiser Press) by December 1. For submission guidelines and an entry form visit hechtprize.html or send an SASE to The Waywiser Press, 14 Lyncroft Gardens, Ewell, Surrey KT17 1UR.

The eighth international literature festival berlin will take place from 24 September to 5 October, with a focus on Africa. The festival features an unprecedented range of over 100 new and established African and German-language authors, including novelists Nuruddin Farah (Somalia) and Amma Darko (Ghana) and poets Susan Kiguli (Uganda) and Chirikure Chirikure (Zimbabwe). Visit for full programme details.

The University of Warwick has launched the inaugural Warwick Prize for Writing, established by Carcanet poet and Warwick Writing Programme Director David Morley. The £50,000 prize will be given biennially for an excellent and substantial piece of writing in the English language, in any genre or form. The theme will change with every prize: in 2009 it is Complexity. The winning author will have an opportunity to take up a short placement at the University. For more information visit

The poet ELIZABETH BARTLETT died at the age of 84 on 18 June. Despite early success (she was just nineteen) in Poetry London, she did not publish her first collection until her mid-fifties and continued writing into late old age. Her first retrospective volume, A Lifetime of Dying: Poems 1942-1979 (Peterloo, 1979), covered mainly work written in the latter two decades. She went on to publish four collections in the 1980s and early 1990s: Strange Territory (Peterloo, 1983), The Czar Is Dead (Rivelin Grapheme, 1986), Instead of a Mass (Headland, 1991) and Look, No Face (Redbeck Press, 1991). In 1995 Bloodaxe published Two Women Dancing: New & Selected Poems, edited by Carol Rumens, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. This was followed by two collections written in her late seventies, Appetites of Love (2001) and Mrs Perkins and Oedipus (2004), the last published on her eightieth birthday.

Robyn Marsack remembers Angus Calder:
Horace in Tollcross
is the title of Angus Calder's second collection of poems, typical of his span of knowledge, his rootedness in Edinburgh, his wit and accomplishment as a poet. As a cultural commentator and historian, Calder - who died in June, aged 66 - always challenged received wisdom, notably in his prize-winning study The People's War: Britain 1939-1945 (1969). His life was often chaotic and unruly, but his work somehow remained steady: lecturing at home and abroad, teaching at the Open University, writing his own books and editing others' (including co-editing the three volumes of MacDiarmid's hitherto uncollected prose, The Raucle Tongue). After winning an Eric Gregory Award in 1967, he finally published his first collection of poems in 1997, followed by four more. Having taught in Malawi and Zimbabwe, he co-edited the Journal of Commonwealth Studies for six years, and championed the work of Jack Mapanje among others. Passionate about cricket, a committed socialist, a critical lover of Scotland; a tousled, talkative, immensely knowledgeable and humane presence in Edinburgh's streets, pubs and libraries - he was Convenor of the Scottish Poetry Library in its formative years - he will be remembered with rueful affection by a large number of friends and admirers of his work.

Correction: In James Keery's review in PNR 182, he mistakenly attributed British Poetry Magazines 1914-2000: A History and Bibliography of Little Magazines to Richard Miller and David Price. The authors of the book are in fact David Miller and Richard Price.

This item is taken from PN Review 183, Volume 35 Number 1, September - October 2008.

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