PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Jason Allen-Paisant, Reclaiming Time: On Blackness and Landscape Tara Bergin, Five Poems Miles Burrows, Icelandic Journal Jonathan Hirchfeld, Against Oblivion Colm Toibin, From Vinegar Hill
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog
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 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.

News & Notes
On Armistice Day, 11 November 1985, a memorial stone was unveiled in Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey. It commemorates poets of the First World War: Richard Aldington, Laurence Binyon, Edmund Blunden, Rupert Brooke, Wilfrid Gibson, Robert Graves (the second time he had been reported dead while still alive), Julian Grenfell, Ivor Gurney, David Jones, Robert Nichols, Wilfred Owen, Herbert Read, Isaac Rosenberg, Siegfried Sassoon, Charles Sorley and Edward Thomas. Arching over the names, incised in white on the black stone, are words in scarlet: 'My subject is War, and the Pity of War, The Poetry is in the pity 1914 - 1918'. The oration was given by Michael Howard, Regius Professor of Modern History at Oxford: it was neatly turned but of a blandness . . . Ted Hughes unveiled the stone, and after prayers there were readings from the poets' works-not all of them represented-given by Jill Balcon, Ted Hughes, Stephen Lushington and Richard Pasco. They were fine readers; it was unfortunate that except in the cases of Owen and Rosenberg the choice of poems was so unilluminating. It is regrettable that a petition to include the name of Edgell Rickword simply went unanswered. The grouping of these poets, though, is a just homage to their shared experience and endeavour:


  We went, returned,
But came with that far country learned;
Strange stars and dream-like sounds,
    changed speech and laws are ours.


ROBERT GRAVES died on 7 December in Majorca at the age of 90.

GEOFFREY GRIGSON died on 25 November. He was 80. Though he was also a poet, he will be most warmly remembered as an anthologist and editor, and most controversially as a critic. He was emphatic and quick in his judgements and some would say protectively intolerant of the things which he did not like. Taste and judgement were undivided in his writing, and for this reason he is reckoned a literary journalist rather than a literary critic. The impact of his periodical New Verse was decisive in the 1930s, a period of political and literary disorientation and adjustment. His interests went well beyond poetry to a wide range of English arts and crafts, and his enthusiasm for Clare and Barnes, among others, helped to restore them to common currency. His anthologies will be read for years to come.

JOSEPHINE MILES, the American poet, died on 13 May at her home in Berkeley. She was 73. Thom Gunn wrote: 'She will be remembered as a poet long after her physical presence is forgotten. It would be a pleasant paradox if I were to say that her poetry bore no resemblance to her person, that it was large, swift and athletic; but no, it had little fluency, and it too moved laboriously, making small gains inch by inch. The inches accumulate, however, until we find ourselves at the end of the poem a quite surprising distance from the beginning.' He urges new readers to approach her through four poems, 'The Family', 'Conception', 'Reason' and 'Officers'. 'I have to recognize,' Gunn adds, 'that such scrupulosity as hers is one of the major virtues, in poetry as well as in the bustle of the thoroughfare.'

ERIC WALTER WHITE, CBE, died on 13 September at the age of 80. An appreciation by Charles Osborne appears in the Reports pages.

PHILIPPE AUDOUIN, writer on surrealism and friend of André Breton, died on 15 September at the age of 60. Naturally reticent, Audouin shied away from the more public conflict engendered by the surrealist projects, but became a fine critic and expositor of Breton's work and of the movement more widely. He was also interested in the Middle Ages and in alchemy, in its hermetic and marginal literature. In the last months of his life he gathered together some notable auto-biographical and personal texts which will be published soon.

DORIN TUDORAN, the Rumanian poet and critic, after a hunger strike and the intercession of various writers from the West including Ionesco, has been allowed to emigrate to the United States. Tudoran wrote against the Ceausescu regime for three years, pointing up the corruption, chauvinism and anti-Semitism in Rumania. At one point his existence was denied by the Rumanian embassy in Bonn. Tudoran is the author of seven volumes of poetry and four of reportage. (Index No. 212)

On 7 October Polish writer LOTHAR HERBST was arrested in Wroclaw on a charge of preparing material which could threaten public order and social peace. He was sentenced to three years' prison and is currently in prison hospital, in danger of going blind. Herbst is 44, a poet and essayist as well as lecturer. Since the imposition of Martial Law in 1981, he has been subjected to constant harassment, culminating in imprisonment. (No. 220)

Camden Council devoted an exhibition to the Portuguese poet FERNANDO PESSOA (1888-1935) in October. It reflected the polyglot power of a man who maintained his poetic activities by a lifetime of odd-jobs and a frugal, reclusive life. The illustrations connected the work of the South African-reared Pessoa to the Portuguese modernista movement. His exploitation of his four main 'heteronyms', his single-handed creation of a school of poets, and the humour, intensity and charm of his various voices, deserve to be better known in Britain.

The Tate Gallery, in connection with the POUND'S ARTISTS exhibition, sponsored a symposium on the poet at Mill-bank on 19 October. Richard Humphries, editor of the catalogue and one of its three essayists, presided. Ten speakers covered subjects from 'Pound and Ruskin' (Clive Wilmer) and 'Ezra Pound as B.H. Dias as Art Critic' (Anthony Ozturk) to the links between Pound and Wyndham Lewis (Paul Edwards), Gaudier and Picabia. Harriet Zinnes, the editor of the book Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts which was the admitted catalyst for the exhibition, came over from the City University of New York to speak on 'Nature and Design' (the phrase is Lewis's).

In late September, at Royaumont, three days were set aside for the first complete reading of the Cantos of Ezra Pound, to mark the centenary of the poet's birth. Five translators had completed the task of turning Pound into French, and their version will be published by Flammarion early this year.

The long-awaited Collected Poems of VERNON WATKINS will be issued by the Golgonooza Press, 3 Cambridge Drive, Ipswich, Suffolk. The ordinary edition will retail at £19.50, with a special limited edition at £40.00. It is to be hoped that a popular edition will follow.

The Commonwealth Poetry Prize, now sponsored by British Airways, was awarded in London on 28 November. The five regional finalists read from their work: Gary Geddes (Americas), Lauris Edmond (Australia/Pacific), Vikram Seth (Asia), Kobena Eyi Acquah (Africa), and Michael Longley (UK). The overall prize went to Lauris Edmond (from New Zealand) for her Selected Poems, and the prize for the best first volume was awarded to Timothy Holmes of Zambia for Double Element. Blake Morrison received the Dylan Thomas Award, and Douglas Dunn won the Poetry section of the Whitbread Awards for his Elegies.

The SPA (Schools' Poetry Association) continues with its excellent activities: publications, teacher liaison, and now a series of competitions. Pupils of all ages are invited to submit poems for prizes in the form of book tokens. Full details are available from Richard Marriott, SPA Competitions Editor, Royal Grammar School, Eskdale Terrace, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE2 4DX. The closing date is 31 March.

The VERBAL ARTS ASSOCIATION has launched Reverberations, a magazine intended for 'teachers and writers involved in the educational system'. It also provides details of the Association's activities. The editors-Ian McMillan and Carol Jones-'would welcome contributions from readers: letters, reviews, articles, in fact, anything which generates excitement about writing-or offers inspiration'. One is tempted to distrust the word 'inspiration'. One cannot but agree that urgent reforms are needed in the teaching of English, and that 'training in the verbal arts' is a desirable (as it was once a necessary) discipline. The first issue of the VAA magazine is promising, but the quality of the poems presented is not encouraging and the articles should be sharper and more original. The Higher Education pieces on creative writing re-invent the wheel. However, given the quality of the sponsoring board and the ample funding of the Gulbenkian Foundation, Reverberations may prove a crucial tool in the work of reform. It can be obtained on subscription (£3.00 for 12 months) from Anne Cluysenaar, The English Department, Sheffield City Polytechnic, 32 Collegiate Crescent, Sheffield S10 2BP. The magazine appears twice a year in A4 format.

The first computer-written novel, published late last year in the United States, was greeted without enthusiasm by the critics. This has not, however, curbed the enthusiasm of programmers. The WICAT Systems people of Orem, Utah, are developing a computer program to teach literature to students 'in grades 4-9'. 'Included in the program will be approximately 100 pieces of literature (poems, essays, short stories)'. 'These samples will be presented on video screen by the computer in a slightly modified form. Portions will be highlighted, changed or re-arranged for teaching purposes. In all cases, however, the correct version of the materials will be shown at the conclusion of an activity.' 'Pieces of literature'? 'Samples'? 'Materials'? Clearly the WICAT people have availed themselves of another splendid programme from the Writing Consultants people in Rochester, New York-the 'Word Finder' Electronic Thesaurus Software. This new 'version 2.2 of its memory-resident Word Finder* electronic software . . . allows the user to select the nearest-matching word when the exact word is not found, switch between 12 word processors, unload from RAM, and specify DOS path. Unlike a printed thesaurus, Word Finder allows writers, without exiting the word processor, to find synonyms in seconds in an "instant" pop-up window and substitute them in the text with two simple keystrokes'. There are 90,000 synonyms for 9,000 words. And it costs only $79.95. Detect, locate, turn up, espy, encounter. 'Think fast and improve your writing in seconds.'

The eighth World Congress of Poets, under the patronage of Melina Mercouri, took place in Corfu between 28 September and 4 October. The Senegalese poet Leopold Sedar Senghor was the guest of honour. Among the subjects discussed was 'The Poet, the book industry and the media'.

This item is taken from PN Review 49, Volume 12 Number 5, May - June 1986.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image