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This item is taken from PN Review 63, Volume 15 Number 1, September - October 1988.

News & Notes
In April this year the (Brazzaville) Congolese poet Tchicaya U Tam'si died in Paris, where he had been living since 1946. The cause of his long exile may have been because he required expert attention for a defective heart; one of the sections in his sequence " Au sommaire d'une passion" addresses to Christ the query: 'Est ce toi qui fis à mon coeur deux ventricules si miniscules?' Son of the Deputy for the Moyen Congo in the French parliament, he was born in 1931 and received his higher education in France. His poetry, published for the most part in small editions from obscure presses, was in the surrealist line of Aimé Césaire and is characterised by its strongly rhythmic nature, the play of sound and word, and its strong condemnation of the exploitation of his people and country. Each of his collections was planned as a whole in which he extends key images and repeats lines in a variety of contexts. He was also a dramatist. His play "Le Zulu", a more mordant consideration of the life of Chaka than is usual, was performed at the Novi Sad theatre festival in 1984.

The W.H. Auden Society's first newsletter provides notes on one of Auden's "lost" works, The Queen's Masque conceived in 1943 for Chester Kallman's twenty-second birthday, and on a previously unknown manuscript poem addressed to one of Auden's pupils when he was teaching at Larchfield Academy. There is an account of the concordance being produced in the teeth of the poet's attitudes to revisions and excisions and his rather casual proof-reading (the American texts being more reliable in this respect), and news of the publication of Alan Ansen's notebooks compiled when he was Auden's secretary in New York in 1946-47. Details of the Society may be had from 70 Lexham Gardens, London W8 5JB.

Some non-literary publications have their own imaginative resonance. The Gulag Handbook is Jacques Rossi's dictionary in Russian, a linguistic record of camp and prison life, and a grimly necessary source for translators of the Gulag literature. The dictionary will soon be available in English, German and Polish after being published first, and curiously perhaps, in Provençal.

"Where the Wasteland ends" is not a sequel to Where the Wild Things Are but a conference to be held in September, invoking Barth and Mann, Sartre and Eliot, dialectical theology and the intractability of language, to focus on the role of literature and theology "in the face of apparent cultural collapse". Conscious maybe of the North East's preservation of culture and belief in an earlier Dark Age, these matters are to be addressed at Durham University. (Submissions and enquiries should be sent to David Jasper at Hatfield College, Durham DH1 3RQ.)

Editions Belfond have published a lengthy interview - apparently the first - with Ernesto Sabato. It was after training as a mathematician and physicist, and an encounter with the Surrealists in Paris in 1938, that he began his career as a novelist. His internaional stature as a novelist as well as his Marxist views make it intriguing that he has been asked by the Argentinian government to inquire into the "disappearances" during the military dictatorship.

It was this time last year that John Hewitt died, and as a tribute to the man and his poetry there is to be an international summer school at St MacNissi's College at Garron Tower in Hewitt's Antrim. The programme, from July 30 to August 5, adds music, films and excursions to the lectures on history in Northern Irish poetry, Hewitt as a literary historian, his contribution to Northern Irish poetry, and the uses of history among Ulster Protestants. The Arts Council of Northern Ireland (181a Stranmillis Road) provide support and details.

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko's poetry has appeared in PNR. A founding member of "club 81" in Leningrad (an "unofficial" group of writers but able to hold readings and negotiate for publication) his work has been available in the Soviet Union only in samizdat. In the new cultural climate - and perhaps because of the interest in his work in the USA, enhanced by the visit he was allowed to make this year - a collection The Corresponding Sky is to be published by Sovietskii Pisatel.

Fernando Pessoa was born in 1888, and the centenary is being widely marked. The June/July issue of Europe includes some previously unpublished texts, new translations and a sort of interview in which Antonio Tabucchi takes his answers from Pessoa's works. The current issue of Numbers also celebrates his writings, giving some prominence to his writing in English as well as English translations of his work and Octavio Paz's 1961 essay on Pessoa, "Unknown to Himself". Two books with both the Portuguese and English texts are the Angel Books re-issue of The Surprise of Being in which Clara de Azevedo and James Greene translated twenty-five poems by Pessoa, and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation publication of Suzette Macedo's translation of Tabacaria (Pessoa's poem under the name of Alvaro de Campos). Nottingham University is to publish a collection of critical essays, including two by the Portuguese writer Eugenio Lisboa, and also at Nottingham there is to be an exhibition about Pessoa. A new film by the Portuguese director Luis Vidal Lopes is to be released in July, with the title Mensagem from Pessoa's collection of poems, and beginning each of the narrative sections with a letter from Pessoa.

A Turkish court has decided that Henry Miller's Tropic of Capricorn is too obscene to be considered as literature and should be destroyed. The Turkish Writers' Union reports that there is a grave crisis in book publishing generally as more than a hundred publishing houses have been shut down as a consequence of the Press Law, the Penal Code, and the increases in the price of newsprint. (Index)

In a recent BBC discussion, Derek Walcott offered the consolation: "All these thousands of tourists are not coming to England. They're going to Shakespeare. A great writer can make even tourism happen." The British Government has yet to capitalize on the economic and ideological implications of this - unlike Liberia where the government will not permit "negative publication of any nature" lest it imperil the "overall image of the nation" and where the Minister of Tourism is also the Minister of Culture as well as the Minister of Information.

In November this year there is to be a festival, in London and Oxford, to mark the seventieth anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World War. The programme includes performances of Charles Peguy's Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc, an Apollinaire and Alain-Fournier film season, exhibitions concerning Alain-Fournier and British poets of the First World War, an evening exploring the work of Georg Trakl, and readings of the First War poets by Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Andrew Motion, Jon Silkin and Jon Stallworthy. Full details will be publicized in September.

Early twentieth century novelists from Central and Latin America are now being claimed, by the publishers of new editions and translations, as precursors of "magic realism". An intriguing variant of this cultural momentum is the case revealed in the current issue of the Milwaukee journal Cockpit. J.J. Robinson's naturalistic novel of shipbuilders on Tees-side during the Depression, published in 1939, is now revealed to be the work of Juan Jesus Rodriguez, an Argentinian writer best known for his surrealist lyrics. The novel was based on only a brief visit to England and the naturalistic detail derived from assiduous correspondence with a Tees-side jobbing printer, rather as the exiled Joyce sought detail about Dublin. "Magic realism" takes on a fresh nuance.

Images from Africa is an anthology of poetry, the sales of which go to a charity helping drought-stricken areas of Africa. Among the poets who have contributed are R.S. Thomas, Michael Hamburger, Anne Beresford, Douglas Dunn, Edwin Morgan, and Jon Silkin, forty in all, to a collection that PNR readers may wish to order from Julian Rabjohn, the Welsh Water Authority, Pentwyn Road, Nelson, Treharris, at £3.95.

PNR probably ought to review the pamphlets produced by the more enterprising "small presses". Of the many received lately might be mentioned six Northern pamphlets: Nicholas Moore's Lacrimae Return (Open Township and Poetical Histories, 14 Foster Clough, Hebden Bridge, HX7 5QZ), Fleur Adcock's Meeting the Comet (Bloodaxe, PO Box 1SN, Newcastle upon Tyne), Duncan Ban Macintyre's Ben Dorain translated from the Gaelic by Iain Crichton Smith (Northern House, 19 Haldane Terrace, Newcastle upon Tyne), Thom Gunn's Undesirables (Pig Press, 7 Cross View Terrace, Durham DH1 4JY), Geoffrey Holloway's My Ghost in Your Eye (Littlewood Press, 5 Slater Bank, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7DY), and Peter Sansom's Keats at Thirty (Wide Skirt Press, 93 Blackhouse Road, Huddersfield HD2 1AP).

Derek Walcott has been awarded The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. Born in St Lucia and now a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, he is "the first Commonwealth citizen to receive the medal", previous recipients of which have included W.H. Auden, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes (Faber & Faber's press release seems to imply that English poets are not "Commonwealth citizens"). Derek Walcott teaches at Boston University, and PNR will be printing a round table discussion, recorded at the BBC in June this year, in which he was joined by Joseph Brodsky, Seamus Heaney, and Les A. Murray.

Matthew Arnold died one hundred years ago, and there is to be a centennial exhibition in the Wordsworth Museum at Dove Cottage, Grasmere, opening on July 22nd. The material will present something of Arnold's circle and the responses to Arnold by composers, artists and cartoonists, besides something rather mysteriously described as "a specially commissioned sculptural environment from Welfare State International". The organizers note that Arnold's poetry expresses the melancholy of living in a materialistic, Philistine age, but we now have a Minister for the Arts to open the exhibition.

Eliot's intolerable wrestle with words and meanings goes on. Thus the publishers of Keto von Waberer's Der Schattenfreund characterize it as "poetic, thrilling, erotic and thoughtful... written with histrionic fluency." The act of writing perhaps. And back-formations are to the fore now, as in such phrases as "this highly spirited book critiques the positions of Derrida, Rorty and others" (to critique the critic).

This item is taken from PN Review 63, Volume 15 Number 1, September - October 1988.

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