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This item is taken from PN Review 65, Volume 15 Number 3, January - February 1989.

DEAR EDITORS: I am surprised at the rather desperate attempts made in your editorial (PNR 63) to distance yourself from an issue of Poetry Review (Vol. 78 No. 1) that clearly has much in common with your own efforts. I went to great lengths in that issue to find as wide a range of good international work as possible. What is so terrible about this to justify the jeering, facetious tone of: "He draws back a curtain to reveal a teeming spectacle of Australian, Scottish, New Zealand, Indian, Caribbean and American activity"?

Your editorial rightly states: "There should be no competition among national literatures". Can I suggest that the niggling competition between literary magazines so clearly evident in your editorial is even more ignoble?

The allegations made about my taste and attitudes are not borne out by the issue in question let alone by the other seven issues I have produced so far. Let me say now that I do not consider "description of the unfamiliar" the "summum bonum" of the art. On the contrary: I have long been a champion of rhythm and metaphysical depth in poetry. My editorial in question refers to "descriptive vigour in the service of metaphysics" in the poetry of Ivan Lalic. You suggest that I value exoticism (not a word that appears in my editorial) rather than "poetic competence and the scale upon which they (Walcott and Murray) work". I chose these and the other poets only on the grounds of poetic competence etc. Given that our choices of important poets are similar, it is hard to understand why ulterior motives are imputed to me. Presumably Les Murray is a poet when he appears under the Carcanet/PNR banner and mere local colour elsewhere.

Poetry Review has championed many English poets: the issue preceding "New Maps of World Poetry" was devoted to eight new British Poets, and the issue following it to Louis MacNeice. To say that England is no longer the centre of English poetry is not to shift it off the map; merely to deny its right to hog all the critical attention.

The overriding point is this: I have championed international poets like Brodsky, Walcott, and Murray because when I came to Poetry Review I found insularity in English poetry still rife. Brodsky and Walcott were featured in my first issue (September 1986), since when they have become, if not household names, at least names to be dropped alongside Heaney, Hughes, and Harrison. "New Maps" was produced because these poets still hardly seemed worked to death. Brodsky has now won the Nobel and Walcott the Queen's Gold Medal. I am glad to have played a small part in bringing these poets to a wider audience.
Peter Forbes
Poetry Review

DEAR EDITORS: The principal poets living in Britain today are Sorley Maclean, Gael Turnbull, Roy Fisher and Tom Pickard, none of them named in your editorial to PNR 64.
Kenneth Cox

DEAR EDITORS: May I add a footnote to J.M. Cohen's singling out (PNR vol. 15, no. 2) of four poems of Vallejo translated by Charles Tomlinson and Henry Gifford as representing "the most acceptable versions in English". These four became ten in Ten Versions from Trilce (San Marcos Press, 1970) and all are reprinted in Translations by Charles Tomlinson (OUP, 1983)
Charles Tomlinson

This item is taken from PN Review 65, Volume 15 Number 3, January - February 1989.

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