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This item is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

News & Notes
Index on Censorship is circulating some troubling petitions from Eastern Europe. The first, dated 11 June, is headed 'How They Closed Down Novy Mir'. This is an appeal to subscribers to that distinguished journal to protest against the rationing of paper which has cut its circulation. Novy Mir has long been a vital organ of Soviet literature. Under Alexander Tvardovsky's brave editorship it published work by Solzhenitsyn, among others. It remains an important publication. It would appear that the magazine is not being closed down. The print run is 1.7 million, an increase of 150,000 over 1989. What has happened is that the editors, apparently without financial sanction, promised readers a 7-volume supplement of work by Solzhenitsyn, and the subscription base rose by a million readers. Izvestiya, which prints and distributes the magazine, explains that the additional run would involve 5,000 tonnes of paper and deprive other journals of supply at a time of severe stringency.

A second appeal came from the editors of Romania Libera. Apparently the print workers do not like the newspaper's angle on the news, its editorial emphasis, or the management. For the first time in its history publication was interrupted on 15, 16, and 18 June, first by the print workers themselves, and then by the miners with their democratic cudgels. There were some injuries, but the journalists and editors escaped generally unscathed. Since the printing of the paper is in the hands of the state printing house, the editors are appealing for foreign advertisers to advertise their solidarity with the paper's ideals, so that the revenues can be used to purchase an independent printing plant, thus freeing Romania Libera from state control. Of course, there is still the problem of paper supplies: can the editors draw in sufficient hard currency to buy the freedom they require?

Franco Buffoni, Allen Mandelbaum and Emilio Mattioli have launched a new magazine, to be published by Edizioni Guerini in Milan. The title is Testo a Fronte. It will be unlike any other Italian magazine - indeed the only similar publications we have seen have come from Germany. It sets out to describe and investigate linguistics, literary theory, and the practicalities of literary dissemination. The editors insist that the new magazine is not intended only for specialists and academics. It is primarily for readers whose interest is in poetry and in translation, the art of translation, its theory and its praxis. Among the advisory editors are such distinguished practitioners as Maria Corti, Michael Hamburger, Franco Fortini and Mario Luzi.

The centenary of Ivor Gurney is being marked in various ways - his Collected Letters should be published this autumn (MidNAG/Carcanet), and there are various events based on his life and work. Among the most attractive are the recitals with tenor Paul Agnew (with pianist Anna Markland) and the poet Virginia Rounding. The recitals are based on the poet's life, from his youth in Gloucester through his service in World War I, and the long years of confinement in a London mental hospital. Songs, poems and letters are employed. The last recital is scheduled for 13 September at the British Music Information Centre, 10 Stratford Place, London W1. Further information is available from Virginia Rounding (071-229-5142) or Paul Agnew (081-761-0844).

The Associacio d'Editors en Llengua Catalana, Valencia, 279, 08009 Barcelona, Spain, has issued an English guide to Books in Catalan, an invaluable scholarly tool but also, in format and disposition, an interesting book for anyone interested in the other languages and literatures of the Iberian peninsula, concentrating largely on current works.

If you can, try to get hold of a copy of the Sotheby's catalogue for the 19 July 1990 sale of The Archive of Macmillan Publishers Ltd. (1905-1969). The huge archive, we are told, is estimated to be worth about £200,000. This is surely an under-estimate, given the extent and the quality of the material.

Admittedly, since the firm was established in 1843, the first 62 years - the years of Charles Kingsley, Thomas Hughes, Lewis Carroll, Disraeli, Arnold, Henry James, Hardy, Palgrave and Tennyson are missing. They went to the British Library some years ago. But there is a wealth of material, some of it substantial and much of it unpublished, relating to or by Yeats, Kipling, O'Casey, the Sitwells, Rebecca West, Tagore, Walpole, Mailer, Snow, Spark ...

Apart from some attractive single items and significantly extended correspondences (Blunden, Enid Blyton - 400 letters, Vera Brittain - over 500 letters, Hugh MacDiarmid - 50 letters, Ezra Pound - 18 letters) - apart from these are the real kernel of the archive, the twenty thousand confidential readers' reports on manuscript submissions. Some researcher will no doubt find it a fascinating labour to tramp through this blizzard of reports by Binyon, Squire, Patrick Kavanagh, Dean Inge, Eric Linklater, Hugh Trevor-Roper, Rowse and others, assessing books - some of them major works - by Wells, Koestler, Olivia Manning, Norman Douglas, Stefan Zweig, Anthony Powell, Joyce Carey, A.A. Milne, William Golding and others. The Sotheby catalogue abounds in suggestive quotations and facsimilies, one of the best being Phyllis Hartnoll's: having praised the potential of the writer but condemned his excesses, she continues: 'Judging it as I would the book of a young English writer, and putting aside considerations of American crudity, vanity, under-development, and protracted adolescence - all of which play their part in the American judgement of books - I would say that his publishers have done him a disservice by publishing the book as it stands.' The author was Norman Mailer, the book The Naked and the Dead.

Seren Books will publish its hundredth title this year. It has rapidly established itself as the leading publisher of Anglo-Welsh writing, the list encompassing new work as well as important rediscoveries and re-assessments. Among the high-points of this year's list are Jean Earle's Selected Poems and Cary Archard's selection, Poetry Wales: 25 Years. Alun Lewis's Collected Stories and John Pikoulis's biography of Lewis also feature. Catalogues are available from Seren Books, Andmar House, Trewsfield Industrial Estate, Tondu Road, Bridgend, Mid Glamorgan CF 31 4LJ.

Enitharmon have published an anthology in honour of Alan Clodd, who founded the Press and ran it for the first eighteen years. His successor, Stephen Stuart-Smith has compiled the book and included work by many of the original Enitharmon authors and friends, including Charles Causley, Roger Garfitt, David Gascoyne, John Heath-Stubbs, Jeremy Hooker and others. It is a characteristically handsome and generously priced book - £6.95 from 40, Rushes Road, Petersfield, Hampshire GU32 3BW.
The Greville Press celebrates its tenth anniversary with books by W.S. Graham, Nazim Hikmet and David Wright. The press, whose editors are Harold Pinter, Anthony Astbury and Geoffrey Godbert, maintains a fine standard of production and design. Each publication - the anthologies, translations and new collections - is worth seeing. A full list is available from Emscote Lawn, Warwick CV34 5QD.

Nadine Gordimer presented this year's PEN Literary Prizes. The Macmillan Silver Pen (£500 and a silver pen) was awarded to V.S. Pritchett for A Careless Widow. The Time-Life Silver PEN Award for non-fiction (£1000 - and another silver pen) went to William St. Clair for The Godwins and the Shelleys. Germaine Greer won the J.R. Ackerley Prize for autobiography on the strength of Daddy We Hardly Knew You. Poetry did not figure.

Michael Donaghy was awarded the 1990 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for his collection of poems Shibboleth, published by Oxford University Press.

The 1990 National Poetry Competition is announced, with a 6 November deadline for submissions. Further information is available from Betty Redpath, The Poetry Society, 21 Earl's Court Square, London SW5 9DE. And Stand magazine announces its short story competition, with entry forms available from 179 Wingrove Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

The Epsom Poetry Group: February saw the 40th anniversary of this circle whose guiding light has been Hubert Nicholson, now 82. Poet, novelist (his best novel, Sunk Island), journalist (Bristol, Cheltenham and Fleet Street papers and many years as a senior editor with Reuters), autobiographer (Half My Days and Nights a memoir of the 1920s and 30s) and critic, Nicholson says the circle was set going in the Surrey suburb after a Christmas party in 1949 at which some Blake was read as an interlude. 'A whole evening of poetry was suggested and tried and things thereafter gathered pace. It was and has remained a small and informal affair. Bring your own sandwiches. There are no officials except a self-elected committee to arrange the programmes. There are no subscriptions or membership cards.' So wrote Nicholson in Adam magazine four years after the Circle's first meeting. 'Our mailing list fluctuates round about 40, people drop out and newcomers drop in. Our average attendance is 24, our highest has been 50, and we shall never save the world. What do we do? We sit, of a Saturday night, with a cider barrel at our elbow, and read poetry aloud.' Wine and quite elaborate buffets have come in since then and the programmes have covered the whole gamut of Anglo-American poetry, past and present. The sessions, held at homes around Epsom and beyond, continue to reflect Nicholson's desire 'not to see the readings turn into illustrated lectures and debates, not to offer any easy substitutes for the actual experience of listening to the poems ... Our group has no university navel-string and of course no religious or political affiliation. It is just a middle-class mixed bag of journalists, copywriters, teachers, doctors, architects, secretaries, art students, housewives, a sculptor, a drama therapist and the like.' Nicholson also wrote in 1954: 'Let me admit to a long-standing and unprovable belief that poetry is no luxury, but a necessity; that without it, people suffer malnutrition, unawares; and that when they get the vitamin they actively like it.'

The group has sessions devoted to the reading of poems by members themselves. And over the years it has heard readings by one of the early participants, A.S.J. Tessimond, and other poets such as George Barker, Alan Brownjohn, Jon Silkin, Charles Causley, Thomas Blackburn, W.S. Graham, Martin Seymour-Smith and Philip Oakes. Hubert himself continues to produce poetry and has recently been the subject of celebration on the BBC radio station in his native city, Hull. Sunk Island was reprinted as a paperback in 1988 by Autolycus Press, 14 Barlby Road, London W10 6AR, which has also published much of his poetry and other fiction. A special session honouring the 40th anniversary was held on 17 February.

This item is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

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