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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 62, Volume 14 Number 6, July - August 1988.

News & Notes
Robyn Marsack, a contributing editor of PNR, has been awarded the Scott Moncrieff prize this year for her translation of Nicolas Bouvier's The Scorpion Fish (Carcanet). David Bellos's translation of Georges Perec's Life - a User's Manual, and Brian Pearce's version of Emmanuel le Roy Ladurie's Jasmin's Witch were short-listed.

Denys Thompson's work gave energy and direction to several generations of English teachers in schools and colleges. His collaboration with F.R. Leavis in Scrutiny and Culture and Environment and his founding of the journal The Use of English were matched in later years by his central role in starting the immensely influential National Association for the Teaching of English. Books such as The Uses of Poetry, Change and Tradition in Rural England, his edition of the poems of Ann Finch, and his international anthology of oral poetry, Distant Voices, suggest something of his interests, though not their range, such as his fascination for fine printing and Caucasian nomad rugs. He was working on a major essay for PNR about literary criticism and the Bible.

June 23 this year marks the 70th birthday of Bert Schierbeek, Holland's leading experimental prose writer. Katydid Books (Rochester, Mi, USA) have brought out a translation of Cross Roads, the second work from his most recent trilogy of novels which straddle and mix prose and verse. Previously there have been only excerpts - notably in Shapes of the Voice (Boston, 1977), an anthology of his work. Guernica Editions (Montreal) is soon to bring out his two latest verse sequences, 'Formentera' and 'The Gardens of Suzhou', in translations by Charles McGeehan. Little of Schierbeek's work has appeared in Britain since the Transgravity chapbook of The Fall in 1973. (Y.L.)

Gert Hofmann's stories have appeared in PNR. Secker & Warburg (London) are to publish his novel The Parable of the Blind in 1988, and in 1989 Balzac's Horse and Other Stories (translation copyright 1988 Fromm International). Carcanet published his novels The Spectacle at the Tower and Our Conquest.

It was the American edition of the new translation of The Battle of Kosovo that PNR (61) received. James Green points out that both the American and the British editions of this translation by Matthias and Vuckovic were produced by AQUILA at PO Box 418, Leek, Staffordshire.

Special issues of magazines seldom receive the attention of reviewers in the way books do. The issue of Agenda devoted to H.D. deserves particular notice. Diana Collecott, as guest editor, has assembled fugitive pieces by H.D. as well as essays about her and new poems, making this issue as much a celebration as a contribution to the critical engagement with H.D. now evident, and vigorous, on both sides of the Atlantic. There's an intriguing list, in the editorial, of material that had to be excluded, but a suggestion of complementary, compensatory publication to come.

A volume of the poems of Volodymyr Svidzinskyj (1885-1941) has appeared in the Soviet Ukraine for the first time in 60 years. The background to the poems is that of the death of six million Ukrainians in 1933, and the arrest and executions of most of the writers. Svidzinskyj had survived in the 'thirties by deciding in the 'twenties that he would write only for his wife and daughter. He survived the arrests only to be burnt alive in a train (according to the account by the poet Alexander Vvedensky, who was in a different truck on the same train) during the evacuation of Kharkiv. The manuscript of 'Honey Hills' was kept by a friend but wasn't published in the West for a further 30 years. Whether Svidzinskyj is seen as an important poet or as a witness, like Mykola Dray-Khmara in his letters to his family from Kolyma, in either case his re-appearance in Ukrainian literature is a major event. (K.L.)

Michael Hofmann's poems have in previous years received Poetry Book Society and Cholmondeley awards. This year his book Acrimony has been chosen for the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Seamus Heaney, Geoffrey Hill, Christopher Middleton have been among earlier winners. The 1989 prize will be for a book of fiction.

Novy Mir has published six poems by Joseph Brodsky, Index notes. Not since his exile in 1972 has any of his work appeared officially in the Soviet Union. Novy Mir prefaces the poems with the statement that Brodsky is Russian, living in New York, and a Nobel Prize winner. Index also observes that Hamlet has been banned in Katmandu, as an offence to royalist sensibilities, while the Turkish Ministry of Education considers that books unsuitable for teaching include Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, Candide, and La Peste.

1988 is the Year of the Book in Finland - a grander version of the UK's 'poetry live' but not confined to one genre, nor marked by station-readings and rumours of helicopters. This year is the fifth centenary of the first printed book in Finland: a Dominican missal, in Latin, printed in Lubeck but meant for church services in Finland. Maybe publishers in the UK are even now organizing a Year, but what the year, its ur-text and pretext?

In a further note to his review (PNR 61) of Robinson Jeffers' Selected Poems, C.J. Fox notes that Liveright editions offer two of Jeffers' books from the 'twenties: The Women at Point Sur and Dear Judas, as well as The Double Axe. If the long title poem of The Women at Point Sur now seems turgid and unduly sulphurous in places, that of Dear Judas presents a strikingly unorthodox picture both of Christ and of his betrayer (which brought this verse play the distinction of being 'banned in Boston'). The title work of the 1948 collection, The Double Axe, must rank as the most torrid repudiation ever penned in verse of the official rationale for the American involvement in World War II. The shorter poems that round out the book - notably those dropped from the original edition after protests from its publisher, Random House - also bear out with jolting force Jeffers' 1945 comment on the detention of Ezra Pound: '... we've caught/A poet, a small shrill man like a twilight bat,/Accused of being a traitor to his country. I have a bat in my tower/That knows more about treason, and about her country.' (C.J.F.)

The American Poetry Association judges its competition-entries on 'originality and sincerity' (no theoretical anxieties to clutter the criteria). The praxis: prizes of $10,000 will be awarded to 151 poets; 2 grand prizes of $1,000; 5 poems of no more than 20 lines per entry; 25 contests sponsored in 6 years; $87,000 awarded to more than 2,400 winning poets (more than?). Original and sincere poets should phone, maybe promptly, Santa Cruz 408 429 1122.

The Basil Bunting Poetry Archive, at Durham University Library, has already acquired the collection of Bunting's biographer, Roger Guedalla, and hopes to buy the manuscripts and notebooks held by the executors of the estate. Details from, and donations to, Richard Cadell, University Library, Durham University, Stockton Road, Durham DH1 3LY.

A welcome piece of literary archaeology is the reprint of Caradoc Evans' My People (edited by John Harris, Seren Books), a collection of short stories which first appeared, to shock and scandalise Wales, in 1915. The Western Mail denounced its 'squalid and repellent picture' and 'clotted idiocies'. The Welsh reactions were understandable. Evans saw Welsh Nonconformity as 'the adroit castrator of art'. Its shallow theatricality and hypocritical pulpit-posturing were for him the canker in Welsh society, and these terrible little stories record his anger and disgust. It is a pity that the language he shaped should have been such an eccentric caricature of the spoken idiom. Rarely are the ambiguous terms of pleasure translated to comic effect and he rarely seizes on those idioms which occurred, and still occur, in the West Wales of which he writes. But we welcome the return of the old bogey, a turbulent fragment of social history and perhaps of some small literary significance. (M.M.)

Forest Books recently held one of their evenings of international poetry at the London Guildhall School of Music, with readings by Matthias Johannessen, the Icelandic poet and newspaper editor, by Justo Jorge Padron, whose work will be reviewed in a later issue of PNR, and by Kolyo Sevov, who read from Forest's anthology Poets of Bulgaria. Since Brenda Walker set up the press in 1984, she has developed a courageous list of translated poetry, with a particularly strong series of East European poetry. Forest is a paradigm of a small press working against the grain of English insularity.

It was a sad coincidence that the issue of Europe (Number 705-706) concentrating on René Char came out shortly before his death this year. More appropriately than could have been planned, the issue gathers up moments and memories from Char's past besides several exegetical articles. The essay by David Gascoyne, the piece by Peter Handke, and a poem by Yannis Ritsos serve well as obituary.

The war over the Malvinas/Falklands interrupted the plans of the Anglo-Argentine Society for a series of annual lectures to be named after Jorge Luis Borges. In 1983 Borges himself gave the first lecture. The first five lectures, by Borges, Graham Greene, H.S. Ferns, Alicia Jurado and Mario Vargas Llosa, have now been published for the Society by Constable as In Memory of Borges, edited by Thomas di Giovanni who contributes a lengthy reminiscence of his work with Borges.

A new magazine of international writing is to be launched in September this year. It aims to fill a gap in the spectrum of international work published in the UK, a gap between the authors who have already achieved an international reputation and those whose political positions have attracted initial interest. The range is to reach from Japan to Nigeria, from Brazil to the USSR. The magazine is to be called Babel. Funds are being sought from public and private sectors as well as a sponsored parachute jump. The moment perhaps to recall and regret the passing of another Babel, edited by Kevin Perryman from Schondorf am Ammersee: its range was "only" European, but it set a respectable benchmark for Babel II.

Index on Censorship is celebrating its 100th issue this May. Contributors will include Wole Soyinka, Breyten Breytenbach, Andrzej Wajda, Milovan Djilas, Andrei Sinyavsky, and Andrei Vosnesensky. PNR has often foraged in Index, and hopes to forage for another 100 issues of a distinctive journal.

After four years as directors of the Arvon writing courses at Lumb Bank, Maura Dooley and David Hunter have compiled an anthology of work by the students and the tutors on the courses there. Many of the poems evoke the area around Lumb Bank, Hebden Bridge and Todmorden, the landscape and the history. It's a pity that editorial modesty seems to have precluded Maura Dooley's own poems from the book, which has an introduction by Ted Hughes.

English versions of the poetry of Rutger Kopland (Professor R.H. van den Hoofdakker, a psychiatrist at Groningen University) have appeared in Stand and other magazines. Now Jackson's Arm (62 Juniper House, Pomeroy Street, London SE14) have published James Brockway's translations in the booklet The Prospect and the River.

Since Paul Valéry's death in 1945, several centres have been established to promote research in his work, notably the centre in Paris and the Centre d'Etudes Valéryennes at Montpellier, as well as those in Italy and Germany. The British Association for Valéry studies has set up a centre for research and documentation, based at King's College, London. Besides studies of the poetry, there have been a colloquium on 'le Domaine Autobiographique et le Moi', a lecture on Valéry and the social sciences, and plans for an international colloquium on music, mathematics and mysticism. Details of the Association are available from Dr C.M. Crow, 57 Hepburn Gardens, St Andrews.

Each year in Milan the fashion house Krizia organizes a festival of international writing (this year ranging from Mario Vargas Llosa to Penelope Lively) and announces its award for foreign services to Italian literature. It culminated in a weekend of football festivities, hotel-strikes, anti-fascist demonstrations and counter-insurgency manoeuvres, but the Chief of Police found time to dine with Krizia, Corriere della Sera, Mondadori, Einaudi, and Carcanet, awarded the prize for its UK publication of Leonardo Sciascia.

This item is taken from PN Review 62, Volume 14 Number 6, July - August 1988.



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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