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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 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.

News & Notes
The shock of the unexpected death of MICHEL FOUCAULT will be widely felt. Foucault, Professor of the History of Systems of Thought at the Collège de France, died in Paris on 25 June at the age of 57. His influence was at its height. His strange, potent vision of a world in which 'man' is the product of forms of knowledge-'an invention of recent date'-is, in its rhetorical power, its imaginative reach, and its marshalling of evidence, comparable to those of Marx and Freud. Foucault's 'archaeological' method, outlined in L'Archéologie du savoir (1969), was to reconstitute, from their traces in documents and institutions, the forms of knowledge that have developed in the past in order to understand better those that dominate the present. Les Mots et les choses (1966) proposed that a break had occurred, at the end of the eighteenth century, between a 'classical' and a 'modern' order of knowledge, as evidenced in the shift from wealth analysis to economics, natural history to biology, and grammar to philology. Foucault offered 'archaeologies' of the concepts of mental illness in Folie et déraison (1961), crime and punishment in Surveiller et unir (1975) and sexuality in L'Histoire de la sexualité: the first volume of this, La volonté de savoir, was published in 1976, and two further volumes, L'Usage des plaisirs and Le Souci de soi, appeared shortly before his death.

For Foucault, forms of knowledge were not simply codifications of preexisting phenomena, but the means by which those phenomena were constituted. There is, for example, no 'essence of sex' which is the object of our discourses of sexual knowledge; instead, those discourses give rise to our notions of 'sex'. Knowledge is inextricably bound up with power, with social regulation and control: but power does not rest solely with the State; it is dispersed throughout society. And it is productive as well as repressive; La volonté de savoir argues, for instance, that the discourses of sexuality which developed during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not merely repress sexuality, but also, by their very proliferation of prohibitions, exclusions, and exhortations, created it as a dangerous yet valuable force, to be guarded, concealed, preserved.

Foucault's considerable impact on literary studies is partly due, like that of Marx and Freud, to his abilities as an author. But Foucault regarded the 'author', not as the individual source of texts, but as a concept which functioned 'to characterize the existence, circulation, and operation of certain discourses within a society'. He has been a major stimulus to the burgeoning study of the concepts, institutions and practices of literary criticism, and to the attempt to resituate literary texts within the whole range of discursive forms of a society, instead of holding them to be independent and privileged.

Though Foucault's work has total (and, arguably, totalitarian) implications, he rejected rigid systems and fixed positions in favour of a Nietzchean 'gay science'. In an interview in the Canadian magazine Ethos (Autumn 1983), he said: 'I am not interested in the academic status of what I am doing because my problem is my own transformation . . . when people say, "Well, you thought this a few years ago and now you say something else", my answer is, Laughter "Well, do you think I have worked like that all those years to say the same thing and not to be changed?" This transformation of one's self by one's own knowledge is, I think, something rather close to the aesthetic experience.' NT

GEORGE OPPEN, the American poet, died in San Francisco on 7 July at the age of 76. Jeremy Hooker's assessment and celebration of Oppen's work, 'Seeing the World', is published in this issue of PNR.

MU'IN BSEISO, the Palestinian poet, a member of the Palestine National Council, died in January at the age of 57. He held several important positions in the PLO and was a cultural adviser to Yasir Arafat. In 1981 he received the Lotus Prize, the highest award of the Asian and African Writers' Federation. His poetry has been translated into Russian by Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and into German and other languages. Last November he participated in the Palestine Cultural Week in London. He also wrote several plays.

Poets are invited to join the campaign to help get the Russian chemist and poet YURI TARNOPOLSKI released from a three year sentence of exile in Siberia for having applied for an exit visa to go to Israel. Tarnopolski is 48, a poet whose work is being translated into French and English. In February he began a hunger strike; his wife, who travelled over six thousand kilometers to see him, was denied access. There has been no news of him since early this year. Letters can be sent to him at 672022 Tchita, P/Ya G. 14/6-5-aya Brigada, U.S.S.R. Support for Tarnopolski is being coordinated by Jeannette Zupan, 71D rue du Pavé Blanc, 92140 Clamart, France.

At least seven well-known Vietnamese writers were arrested in Ho Chi Minh City in early May, following police raids on their homes. They are reported still to be in custody and incommunicado at a police station in the city. The writers, including two poets, had been arrested previously in 1976 and were held in re-education camps for between three and five years each. The reason for their arrest cannot be ascertained. It may be a further extension of the 'cultural purification and re-education' campaign. (Index LHT 31)

The election of PETER LEVI as Professor of Poetry at Oxford marks the return to the Chair of a practising poet whose critical approach is unconventional and fresh, and whose poetry is marked by its openness to European and Classical literatures. His 'campaign' was exemplary for its tact and seriousness.

A new bookshop has opened in London, the SILVER MOON at 68 Charing Cross Road. It stocks books by women and for women. It has a café downstairs for women only. It is open from 10.30 in the morning to 6.30 in the evening, Tuesday through Saturday.

1985 will be VICTOR HUGO year in earnest in France (and elsewhere). Exhibitions, lectures, readings and performances are scheduled for the whole year. The highlight for foreign visitors will be the centenary exhibition at the Grand Palais, from October through December. It will have the title 'Hugo, hero and myth of the century'. There will also be an exhibition in the Metro, a film festival, television programs and much else. Hugo's manuscripts will be microfilmed in their entirety, publishers will be doing what German publishers did with Goethe at his centenary. It makes the English look rather behind-hand with Dr Johnson.

On the occasion of the European Year of Music (1985) and the VIIth European Poetry Festival (Leuven), a competition for composers is being held under the general title MUSIC & POETRY. The composers must be resident in one of the ten EEC countries and should send an unpublished and not previously performed setting of a poem-published or unpublished-in its original language. That language has to be one of the 'official' languages of the EEC, and the poet has to belong to one of the member states. There are two categories: a work for solo-voice and accompaniment; and a capella work for mixed choir. The deadline for submissions is 31 January 1985. Seven prizes will be awarded. For further details contact the European Poetry Library, Blijde Inkomststraat 9, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.

We have received a further yellow paper from the Council of Europe in the Cultural Policy series. The first item of news is headed 'Arts funding debated in Munich'. The style of the report is as puzzling as the content. 'A recent meeting held in Munich (8-11 November 1983), organized by the Bavarian Ministry of Education and Culture and the Council of Europe, dealt with cultural economics. It did not so much attempt to take stock of existing national cultural expenditure systems, but tried to find out whether countries faced with complex problems of structural economic change were able to innovate new patterns and create a suitable range of cultural policy instruments whether specific research and professional experience prompted possible solutions to develop future strategies.' It is not surprising that there were no surprises in the reported 'conclusions' of the debate. Culture is an industry like any other, and an industry clearly in decline. There was no indication in this report of who attended or what interests were represented.

Gregory Peck read from Washington Irving's The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at the dedication of POETS' CORNER at the Cathedral of St John the Divine, New York. A board of electors-and a distinguished one, at that-will choose two poets a year to be honoured. The first two are Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. The Dedication Ceremony in May was attended by various public figures and by several poets. Edgar Bowers read Dickinson. J.V.Cunningham is to deliver the first lecture. Robert Penn Warren read Whitman. Daniel Haberman, Poet in Residence at the Cathedral, was given the task of creating the Corner with no budget. This he did with remarkable success. The selectors include Eudora Welty, Richard Wilbur, John Hollander and Joseph Brodsky as well as Cunningham, Penn Warren and Bowers. With Walter Cronkite as Master of Ceremonies and greetings from such lovers of poetry as President Reagan and Governor Cuomo (not to mention Mayor Koch), the project looks extremely well established. Whitman's stone will read, 'I stop somewhere waiting for you.' By the year 2000, there'll be a substantial anthology, and each year fruitful controversy will attend the selection.

A new poetry annual (which insists on calling itself a journal), POETRY KANTO, was scheduled to appear in August. In the first number there are twenty contributors, Ooka Makoto, Ishigaki Rin, William Stafford, Yoshimasu Gozo and Harry Guest among them. Unpublished original poems in English or Japanese will be considered for the second number from February through May 1985. Submissions should be sent with an sae and International Reply Coupons. Readers wishing to acquire a copy of the first number should write to The Kanto Poetry Center, Kanto Gakuin University, Mutsuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, Japan 236.

ACUMEN MAGAZINE, edited by Patricia Oxley, is looking for contributions 'in the form of poetry and articles of a literary nature up to 3000 words'. The magazine will appear twice a year, beginning in April 1985, subscriptions £3.00 p.a. to Acumen Magazine, 6 The Mount, Higher Furzeham, Brixham, South Devon TQ5 8QY.

The most interesting new magazine to reach us for quite some time is the ATLAS ANTHOLOGY, edited by Alastair Brotchie (10 Park Street, London S.E.1, £3.00 per issue plus 30p p&p). The first issue was published in 1983, the second earlier this year, in a small run, so readers interested in what Brotchie describes as 'non-naturalistic prose' should write soon. Two things distinguish this magazine from others devoted to fiction. First, it has a strong editorial 'line' and welcomes the radical and experimental, but with a sure discrimination. Also, it sees the need to provide a context for the unfamiliar and innovative new work it sponsors. As a result, it provides translated texts and rescued material from earlier this century (and from last century) suggesting continuities. It is an avant garde magazine which acknowledges its paternity in earlier avant gardes. It should also be said that it is handsomely designed-Brotchie is a graphic artist. It has a slightly avant-garde feel: there can be no doubt that it was produced on a shoe-string. But this is part of its quality. Where else in Britain will one find substantial representation in a magazine of Satie, Queneau, Jarry, Roussel, Harry Mathews, Georges Perec, André Breton? The German, Italian and English language writers stand especially lucidly in this company. A tradition is being suggestively and quietly revealed, without polemic but with great intelligence. The translations are not yet of an excellent standard, but they are serviceable. In the British context, alongside Granta and The Fiction Magazine, the emergence of the Atlas Anthologies is wonderfully enlivening. It is a magazine full of energy and promise, largely because it brings with it a rich, neglected past.

Double issue 13/14 of the Australian magazine HELIX is devoted to Ezra Pound, and contains biographical and literary articles, and unpublished lectures and documents by, or relating to, Pound. It looks at Pound's Australian connection: the 'Melbourne Vortex' of two poets, Noel Stock (guest editor for this issue) and William Fleming, who, in the 1950s, became Pound's disciples, and promoted his poetics and (more dubiously) his politics against the indifference or resistance of Australian poets, critics and academics. Australian poetry in the 1950s, powerfully influenced by the anti-Modernist polemic and practice of A.D.Hope, was, Stock complained in 1956, 'bogged in back-country awareness'. Other pieces in this issue consider, for instance, Pound's use, in the Cantos, of Chinese and American historical sources; the complex case-history of his stay at St Elizabeth's Hospital ; and the relationship between his Social Credit notions and G.K.Chesterton's Distributism. Two articles are of particular interest: Hugh Underhill discusses F.S. Flint, who both 'achieved verse of satisfying symbolic evocation, in delicately modulated lines, and . . . got more of the here and now of city life into English poetry almost before anybody else'; Cairns Craig argues that Imagism and Modernism set up an opposition, between the transhistorical image and historical process, which persists, in varied forms, into the work of such post-war poets as Lowell and Larkin. Altogether, this Pound special offers a useful, sometimes rich, range of material. It would be interesting to know more about current Australian attitudes to Pound's work, and about its possible influence on post-1950s Australian poetry. Helix is edited by Les Harrop at 119 Maltravers Road, Ivanhoe, Australia 3079. NT

Yann Lovelock writes to supplement the bibliography of English translations of Jean Follain given by John Pilling in his PNR 37 essay. Bernard Waldrop and S. Gavronsky published versions in Modern European Poetry (ed. William Barnstone, Bantam Classics, 1966); and four poems from Espaces d'Instants were translated by David Cloutier in Trends (the Paisley College of Technology literary magazine, 1979).

This item is taken from PN Review 41, Volume 11 Number 3, January - February 1985.



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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