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This item is taken from PN Review 134, Volume 26 Number 6, July - August 2000.

News & Notes
The GREVILLE PRESS celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary this year with the publication of Yesterday Only comprising work by Robert Graves chosen by Beryl Graves and Thomas Traherne chosen by Anne Ridler. Anthony Astbury founded the Greville Press in 1975, 'simply' to publish George Barker and W.S. Graham who had recently become his acquaintances. Alan Clodd, founder of Enitharmon, declared that once you start in publishing you can never stop; Astbury's vocation bears out this axiom: the press has survived and grown for a quarter of a century.

The Cholmondeley Awards, each worth £2,000 and awarded in recognition of a poet's body of writing, went to Alistair Elliot, Michael Hamburger, Adrian Henri and Carole Satyamurti, while the Eric Gregory Awards, given to poets under 30, were made to Eleanor Margolies and Antony Roland who each received £6,000, and Antony Dunn, Karen Goodwin and Clare Pollard each of whom received £4,000.

As PN Review 134 went to press, we learned of the deaths of the Austrian poet Ernst Jandl and of the Italian Attilio Bertolucci. Notes on both these writers will appear in PN Review 135.

Paul Quinn writes: Compendium Books of Camden Town is to close in September. Having been in business since its counterculture heyday in the 1960s, its closure means a huge loss for poetry culture in Britain. Where else can you have access to the genuine range of home and abroad poetry publications, from both large and small presses? Left with the franchise stores, casual browsers will be less likely to realise that there are other maps of modern poetry available than the ones on offer. A sad loss indeed.

The novelist GIORGIO BASSANI died in Rome on April 13, aged 84. Born in Bologna, he was forced initially to publish his work under the pseudonym Giacomo Marchi and was imprisoned in 1943 for his stance as a partisan and socialist. His collection of short stories, Le storie ferrarese (A Prospect of Ferrara) won the Premio Strega and a string of novels won critical acclaim throughout the 1950s. As a consultant to a number of publishing houses, Bassani was responsible for accepting for publication Lampedusa's Il gattopardo (The Leopard) which was adapted for the big screen in 1963, with Burt Lancaster playing the Sicilian prince. Bassani was one of the founders of the Italia Nostra heritage organisation and was awarded an honorary doctorate in natural sciences for his work in safeguarding the environment. One of the best-loved Italian writer of his generation, he is best-known abroad for his elegiac novel The Garden of the Finzi-Contini.

DOUGLAS OLIVER died in Paris on Good Friday at the age of 62. His first appearances in print were in Encounter and London Magazine and his first book, Oppo Hectic was published in 1969. A volume of collected poems, Kind (1987) initiated the positive response he experienced until his untimely death from cancer. His priority was to foster literary relationships and develop a social space for poetry. He established an attentive audience for work-inprogress, publishing The Diagram Poems in 1979, almost ten years after their initial conception. He performed at Poetry Slams whilst living in New York in the early 1990s and began to establish a wider audience for his work. His books include The Harmless Building (1973) and The Infant and The Pearl (1985) and more recently, Penniless Politics (1994). He was one of the Penguin Modern Poets 10 (1996) and is now published by Bloodaxe. His concerns for ethical value and spirit in the social and political worlds are perhaps represented best in A Salvo for Africa, published just days before his death. To PN Review 105 he contributed a notable essay, 'Poetry's Subject', exploring the issues of orality and community.

ALFRED 'AL' WELLINGTON PURDY, was born at Wooler, near Kingston Ontario in 1918. He published more than thirty volumes of poetry in his lifetime, writing of farmers and the loneliness of life in the outbacks of Canada. He served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the second world war and his first collection of poems, The Enchanted Echo, was published in 1944. By the early 1960s he was earning his way as a writer. By 1974 when In Search of Owen Robin was published, Purdy was writing only free verse. He helped and encouraged younger writers and poets. He declared: 'The only thing that equals writing what you think is a good poem is to write another just as good.' Purdy won Canada's highest literary honour, the Governor General's Award, for The Cariboo Hunters (1965) and later for his Collected Poems (1986). He died in Canada in April.

The American poet and short story writer G.S. SHARAT CHANDRA died unexpectedly of a brain haemorrhage in April. Born in Mysore, India, he left to study law in Canada in 1962. He then emigrated to the United States where he added degrees in English and taught at a number of American universities, eventually becoming an American citizen. He had a strong attachment to Britain where his first books of poetry were published by London Magazine Editions and much later by the Hippopotamus Press. More collections followed in the USA, where his Family of Mirrors was a Pulitzer Prize nomination for poetry. He had a growing reputation as a short story writer, his most recent collection being Sari of the Gods. (Roland John)

The Walloon dialect poet JEANNE HOUBART-HOUGE died late last year at the age of 89 in Wandre, the outlying district of Liège where she was born. Her first husband was a Pole and she lived in Poland throughout the war years, returning to Belgium in 1950. She emerged as a poet at the relatively late age of 46, having been converted to the beauty of dialect by an adaptation of Sophocles into Walloon. Two of her collections were given literary awards, but she is best known for her collection of stories about Poland, Contes d'on payis d'ôte pa. In England a translation of one of her poems was included in Roland Premru's Songs for Seasons, first performed in 1982. (Yann Lovelock)

The poet BARRY MACSWEENEY has died. He was 51. He came to the fore during the 1960s as part of the Mordern Tower group. It was a time of intense poetry activity in his native Newcastle on Tyne, under the austere tutelary eye of Basil Bunting. He was close to the chief orchestrator of the Newcastle scene Tom Pickard, and also associated with J.H.Prynne. His first collection The Boy from the Green Cabaret Tells of His Mother (1968) sold unusually well; his publisher nominated him for the Chair in Poetry at Oxford where he polled three votes. He took a job on the Kentish Times, married the poet Elaine Randell and together they ran the Black Suede Boot Press. After his separation in 1978, his poetry darkened to lament. He moved back to the North East and became an editor on The North Shields Gazette. In 1989 he found Christianity, relocated his voice, and published a huge collection, The Tempers of Hazard (1993). It was pulped in the year of publication. A career of sudden successes and setbacks blurred a genuine lyric talent.

This item is taken from PN Review 134, Volume 26 Number 6, July - August 2000.



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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