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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 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.

News & Notes
ABRAHAM NAHUM STENCL, editor of Loshn un Lebn and an outstanding Yiddish poet, died in London. Born in Poland, he moved to Germany where he was active among the highly-assimilated German Jewish community. In 1937 he came to Britain via Holland and settled in Whitechapel, where he established his magazine which ran for forty-five years. The last issue appeared in 1982. His poetry was ambitious: he favoured the epic genre. It is surprising, given the distinction of the work, that it has not become better-known in England.

A large part of the personal library of FRANZ KAFKA-long thought to have been destroyed or scattered after the war -has been recovered in the German Federal Republic. An institute set up in Wuppertal in 1975 to study the German-language literature of Prague, has just purchased about two hundred of Kafka's books from a Munich bookseller, Theodor Ackermann. The discovery and purchase are happily timed to coincide with the centenary of Kafka's birth. To find so many of the books together fifty-eight years after Kafka's death and fifty years after the accession to power of the National Socialist Party is little short of miraculous. Thirty of the books that the Institute has purchased bear inscriptions to Kafka from friends and admirers; two of them have Kafka's own dedications to his favourite sister, Ottla, who, along with his two other sisters, died in a concentration camp in the Second World War. Among the books are Kafka's Goethe, Schiller, and his Shakespeare and Dostoievsky (in German), a biography of Theodor Herzl, etc. The Institute plans to publish a complete edition of Kafka's writings in German to mark the centenary of his birth.

In PNR 31 we reported that Mahmoud Darwish, the Palestinian writer, had been denied a visa to attend a conference in the United States. DENNIS BRUTUS, the South African poet, scholar and anti-apartheid campaigner is continuing his battle to remain in the United States. On 10 January his deportation hearing was delayed by a dispute over classified evidence. Brutus applied for political asylum over a year ago but was ruled 'deportable', though he has been Professor of English at Northwestern University in Illinois since 1971. His immigration problems began in February of 1981 when he was given a month's notice to quit the United States on the grounds that he had overstayed his visa and that his decade spent teaching 'created a strong presumption that both your stay and your present position are in effect permanent'. His case is something of a test case for other Africans and other exiles at present living and working in the United States.

JORGE EDWARDS, the Chilean writer, has had the odd distinction of having his book Persona Non Grata, an account of his years as Chilean ambassador to Cuba, banned both in Havana and in Santiago. The symmetry of this censorship is remarkable. It was banned in Havana for what it said about Castro and the treatment of Cuban dissident intellectuals such as Heberto Padilla, and in Santiago because Edwards was an appointee of Salvador Allende. The book originally did appear in Chile, but the substantially unchanged new edition has been ruled subversive.

In Vietnam, the poet HOANG CAM has been arrested. Since the Communist victory in South Vietnam in 1975, writers of all sorts and artists, teachers and journalists have been sent for 're-education' or to prison without trial. Information about their conditions and whereabouts remains sketchy (little enough is known about the fate of intellectuals in the North). Hoang Cam is 62. He was arrested in Hanoi in August of last year following the discovery of a manuscript collection of poems in the luggage of a Canadian visitor about to board a plane at Hanoi airport. Hoang Cam-a leading poet in the 1940s and 1950s, who fell out with the Party in 1956 following a disagreement over cultural policy-was arrested for maintaining 'cultural relations with people from abroad'. Nothing has been heard of him since. (Index LHT 18)

Costa Rica, the most pacific and settled of the Central American states, has banned the radical Roman Catholic bimonthly APORTES. This sad development was followed by government warnings against the circulation of 'subversive' literature. The general Central American infection may be spreading to this last civil enclave in the region. (Index, MC 26)

Japan's best-known literary critic, HIDEO KOBAYASHI, died in Tokyo on 1 March. He was 80.
 
The Académie Française has been riven by one of its sporadic squabbles, this time over the election-which did not take place-of CHARLES TRENET, the singer and songwriter. He would have been the first popular singer to be elected to the august Forty, founded in 1635 to unify and protect the French language. Trenet was the candidate of those who feel the institution is stuffy and old-fashioned. There are five candidates for the current vacancy, but Trenet has the loudest claque and it is to be hoped that the populist temptation will continue to be resisted.

Earlier this year in France M Mitterand and his culture minister invited writers from all over the world to use-their imaginations together in Paris to try to think of solutions to the economic and social crises of France and the World. In the event, this manifestation of goodwill and trust turned a little sour when, from the outset, a dialectic was established between some of the American writers and many of 'the rest'. American cultural imperialism -apparently epitomised in the television series 'Dallas'- came in for a good deal of stick, and the American press expressed the general cultural outrage of the American people. This cultural pow-wow did much to sour the hardly sweet relations between American and French 'opinion-makers', though some of the American writers tended to agree with the French polemic, complicating thus the dialectical processes.

The annual EUROPEAN POETRY FESTIVAL, organised in Leuven, Belgium, each October by the European Association for the Promotion of Poetry, had as its theme 'Mystery and Matter' in 1982, a topic which was the occasion of much verbosity and little genuine debate, writes Hilary Davies. At the end of three days there had been no agreement on how these terms were to be defined, though no one seemed to mind. This was in part due to the official policy of giving all readings and speeches in the author's native tongue, a practice which, in an atmosphere of intellectual discussion, can only be divisive. It was also inconsistent, since off the rostrum French asserted itself as the lingua franca. The same policy applied to the anthologies published by the Association: 'minority' languages are at a disadvantage when left untranslated. In the public readings the policy made sense-at least the characteristic prosody of each language could be heard. The issue of whether to read/talk in one's own language raised a more fundamental question: such festivals presuppose some sort of European identity. One problem of definition was whether participants from Israel, Argentina and exiles from Bulgaria qualified as European; yet it's an odd Europe that incorporates Argentina and has no representative from Great Britain -Kathleen Raine having been prevented by illness from attending. John Montague was the sole official English-speaking poet-significantly, a Celt rather than an Anglo-Saxon. Nor are the poets who have participated in the past regarded as quintessentially English on this side of the channel-Jon Silkin, David Gascoyne. Is this because, being less 'English', they are more willing to participate, or because they are pre-selected on account of their alleged eccentricity? One example of the Association's ignorance of the contemporary character of English poetry was the pained surprise of the general secretary, announcing the 1983 theme: 'Romanticism in Contemporary European Poetry', on being informed that there wasn't very much of it currently visible in England. A well-lubricated lunch in the charming Beguinhof failed to dispel the feeling that the poets taking part represented not so much a European cultural community as a bloc of disunited states.

The Poetry Society (21 Earls Court Square, London SW5 9DE) has announced the EUROPEAN POETRY TRANSLATION PRIZE in memory of Corneliu M. Popescu. It will be a biennial award of £500 to a translator of poetry for work translated into English from any European language and published in the two-year period preceding the prize. The winner of the first prize will be announced in May. Write to the Poetry Society for details.

The Friends of Israel Trust and the Kibbutz Writers-in-Residence Programme are offering three travel bursaries a year to British writers to go to Israel and work on one of the 260-odd kibbutzim for four or six weeks in the country. The kibbutz chosen will provide accomodation and full board, the FOI Trust will provide the air fare. The scheme promises the chosen writer time to write, a chance to travel around the country, and the experience of living as an unsalaried kibbutznik. Further information from John Levy, FOI Trust, 25 Lyndale Avenue, London NW2 2QB.

THE MARISCAT PRESS, run by Kevin McCarra and Hamish Whyte (3 Maris cat Road, Glasgow G41 4ND) began in August 1982 with a pamphlet of translations of Catullus into the Glasgow patois by David Neilson and a hand-printed illustrated poem-card, 'Grendel', by Edwin Morgan. Mariscat is now projecting some larger ventures: Edwin Morgan's Grafts/Takes (two collections in one) and a gathering of short prose pieces by Laura (Riding) Jackson. The aim of the press is, in the words of Hamish Whyte, 'simply to make good interesting literary material available, in a variety of formats. If there are any watchwords they are those of Francis Meynell of the Nonesuch Press: "Variety, flexibility, impulse".' Mariscat also publishes The Glasgow Magazine, a venture likely to interest many readers of PNR.

AQUARIUS 13/14 is a special Canadian issue guest-edited by Katherine Govier with a hideous cover by Ralph Steadman but interesting contents by a variety of known and unknown writers. (£2.50 from 114 Sutherland Avenue, London W9)

Tony Frazer, Ian Robinson and Robert Vas Dias have started a new magazine, NINTH DECADE, devoted to British, North American and Continental Writing. This brings together Shearsman, Oasis and The Atlantic Review and is therefore quite an eclectic offering with a strong Anglo-American bias. Experimental prose is also promised. The magazine will be launched in May and will cost £4.50 for three issues (to 52 Cascade Avenue, London N10).

The Bristol branch of the Historical Association has published a fascinating pamphlet celebrating Isaac Rosenberg and his stay in that city: ISAAC ROSENBERG OF BRISTOL, by Charles Tomlinson. It costs 80p (+17p p&p) to the Department of History, University of Bristol.

ALAIN SUBERCHICOT (10 Chemin Dupuis Vert, Appt 169, 95000 Cergy-Pontoise, France) is 'exploring recent British poetry for the literary review La Nouvelle Tour de Feu. His intention is to present work 'in bilingual form', and he is keen to review British books as well. His magazine appears six times a year, and he suggests that 'many younger British poets would have an opportunity to perhaps get their first publication in France in this way'. His magazine is a resuscitation of an older one, nick-named TdF, which began publication in 1947.

The DARTINGTON CONFERENCE this year (5-9 April) has as its subject 'Imagination and Reality' and includes speakers from all areas of the arts. There will be lectures, workshops and seminars. Further information is available from the Darting-ton Conference, Fairfield, Abbotskerswell, Newton Abbot, Devon TQ12 5PN.

The Manchester Dial-a-Poem 'service' got into trouble recently. On 17 February a Manchester Evening News headline read 'Blankety verse? It's even worse!', and went on to say how a 'Poetry for the people' arts group 'has been slammed by councillors for its "sick" humour'. The impression given was that Dial-a-Poem had become something like a Dial-a-Heavy-Breather service, and that some of the poems were politically doubtful and satirical. I have always wondered who uses the Dial-a-Poem service: apparently it is a favourite with Tory Councillors, all of whom had an opinion on the matter, which must prove to the North West Arts Association (who help fund the project and are faced with threats to their own subsidy for having so naughty a client) that there is a demand for it. The editors of the service circulated a letter denying the charges in the press. Perhaps Parnassus is not, after all, the best place for a telephone exchange. At least the people of Manchester can be proud of their Councillors-alert to the voices of the poetry world and eager to establish themselves as critics. When I tried to ring Dial-a-Poem to see what the outcry was about, the number was engaged.

This item is taken from PN Review 32, Volume 9 Number 6, July - August 1983.



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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