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)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
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)
Next Issue Jen Schmitt on Ekphrasis Rachel Hadas on Text and Pandemic Kirsty Gunn Essaying two Jee Leong Koh Palinodes in the Voice of my Dead Father Maureen Mclane Correspondent Breeze
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 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

News & Notes
The French poet JEAN LAUDE died on 8 December at the age of 61. Best-known as an art historian, especially for his work on African art and modern painting, he is of the generation of Bonnefoy, Dupin, du Bouchet and Jaccottet, a poet who helped to revive poetry after the War. His first collection, Entre deux morts, appeared in 1948. His concerns and his development were characteristic of his time: the poems are 'essential' in that specifically French way which makes them especially challenging to the translator who tries to take them out of a Romance language. In the last fifteen years or so Laude's work grew more diverse and ambitious and came to include original prose works. He was keen to build bridges between poetry and the theatre and at the time of his death was working on an opera libretto on the theme of Lilith.

The Finnish poet PENTTI SAARIKOSKI died on 24 August 1983 at the age of 46. Saarikoski, whose work has begun to be translated into English by Herbert Lomas and Anselm Hollo, was highly regarded in Finland. His relatively early death has reminded some Finnish critics of Eino Leino (1878-1926), a poet who 'lived quickly' and unconventionally and left an enormous body of poems, polemics and other writings which, after his death, became the basis for a publishing and critical industry. Saarikoski celebrated his illustrious, bohemian predecessor in some of his autobiographical poems of the mid-1970s. Saarikoski was unconventional in many of the same ways as Leino, though in an age when unconventionality has its advantages as well as its drawbacks. His fate is also-more plausibly perhaps- being compared to that of Dylan Thomas.

In Hungary, Index reports, there is increasing harassment of intellectuals and writers, most recently the trial of GABOR DEMSZKY, the independent samizdat publisher, accused of assaulting the police. He received a six month prison sentence suspended for three years. His press, AB, has published over 300 titles -literary and polemical-and his arrest is a measure of his success. It is also a measure of troubling new tensions in Hungary.

GUNAR FREIMANIS, the Latvian poet, was tried in December and sentenced to four years in camps and two years in internal exile for his part in the campaign for human and national rights. Baltic dissidents generally are being hard-pressed by the KGB, the usual charge being 'anti-Soviet agitation and propaganda'.

The French love of centenaries has, if anything, been heightened since the Socialists came to power. In 1984 the main celebrations are likely to be in honour of DIDEROT, and in 1985 of VICTOR HUGO. The latter, the 'Titan of Love', is being subjected to a series of popular pamphlets devoted to his amours which do little to enhance his credit. On the other hand 1984 is 'l'Année Diderot', and from 12 January onwards the list of events and conferences is impressive. Of course Jack Lang will be involved, and it may be due to his insistence that the celebrations will be devolved so that many events will take place in the provinces. The celebration spills over into Leningrad (May), Edinburgh (September) and Kyoto (November).

This year's Prix Médicis-étranger has been awarded to KENNETH WHITE, the 47-year-old Scot whom the French regard as one of their outstanding new writers. A 'mystic atheist', he is also the author of an excellent little guide to Scotland (Flammarion, 1980), the first paragraph of which neatly explains his presence in France: 'The Scots find it difficult to stay at home. They have an irrepressible wanderlust, a passion to be elsewhere.' White left Scotland in the late 1950s, married a French girl, and now writes directly in French. But Glasgow will remain a love of his-where 'Rimbaud first blew my mind'. White translated the work of André Breton for Cape Editions in 1969.
(David Arkell)

The Duff Cooper Memorial Prize for 1983 was presented to PETER PORTER for his Collected Poems (Oxford) by Anthony Thwaite on 17 January.

The Saltire Society Scottish Literary Award for 1983 was presented to two poets, EDWIN MORGAN (Poems of Thirty Years, Carcanet) and DERICK THOMSON (Creachadh Na Clarsaich or Plundering the Harp, Macdonald). The prize was split equally between them. Reflecting on the Sunday Times 'Book of the Year' lists, Le Monde commented wryly and ruefully on the fact that none of the books chosen had been translated into or from French-further evidence of the more-than-geographical gap between our cultures, despite the fact that George Steiner had chosen Maurice Cranston's work on Rousseau and Isaiah Berlin had chosen Peter France's book on Diderot. The list, reproduced in the pages of a French paper, does look a little thin; but then Le Monde's comment, 'Sauf Diderot et Rousseau expliqués par des spécialistes britanniques!' has something of a provincial ring as well. It troubles me that in Le Monde American books are always described in the headnotes as 'translated from the American', but Mexican or Argentinian books are 'translated from the Spanish' and Australian and Indian books are 'translated from the English'.

The New Hungarian Quarterly-a magazine of cultural and political analysis, published in English-is clearly designed to present the acceptable face of East European Communism. The Spring 1983 issue (number 89) contains, however, an item of special literary interest: 'Gelebtes Denken', an autobiographical sketch by the influential Hungarian critic GEORG LUKAĆS. Written when he was 86, and terminally ill, it is in densely compressed note form, but offers fascinating insights into his intellectual and political development, from his childhood introduction to English literature-'Highest step- learned English at the time-Tales from Shakespeare: immeasurable, for me unsurveyable, wealth of genuine reality and recognition'-to his late affirmation of the 'importance of genuine Marxism as the only way out'. 'Gelebtes Denken' should be an interesting contribution to the growing debate, in the West, about Lukaćs's life and work. Edited by Ivan Boldizar, The New Hungarian Quarterly is published from H-9066 Budapest, P.O.Box 223, Hungary.
(N.T.)

BERTRAM ROTA LTD, the bookshop familiar to collectors and literary readers as a responsive and comprehensive source of new and out of print titles of literary and bibliographic interest, is sixty years old and has issued a sixtieth anniversary catalogue which is almost indecently tempting. (30 & 31 Long Acre, London WC2E 9LT) Rota's is, like the Tower, a place not to miss in London. From the beginning of this year, the POETRY BOOK SOCIETY has become a 'simultaneous book club'. This is not a case of caterpillar into butterfly but of one kind of butterfly into another. The new scheme incorporates the old-four books a year will be chosen for members. But members will pay a little less and get a little more value for money since the books will be discounted and bear the Society's imprint. As an inducement to new members, an anthology is offered. The PBS has been around for thirty years and has distributed over 90,000 books in that time. Its objectives are 'to further the education of the people of this country by fostering and propagating the art of poetry'. As well as books of poems, the Society sends out a quarterly Bulletin and a free supplementary anthology of new poetry each year. The PBS is, in the tiny world of poetry, an institution important beyond its size. It has in the past been a kind of monitor and marker for the pricing of poetry books: as its ceiling rose, so did the price charged for slim volumes. The Choice or Recommendation of a volume helped to establish new writers and make the production of at least a few titles a year profitable. The new scheme is more ambitious and aims to address more of 'the people of this country'. We wish the scheme well and hope that it meets the very sanguine membership targets it has set itself. How big a constituency is there? As the Chairman, Philip Larkin, might have said, 'Well,/We shall find out.'

For £5 7 it is possible to attend the ninth International POUND CONFERENCE at York University (write to David Moody, International Pound Conference, Dept. of English & Related Literature, University of York, Heslington, York). The main theme of the conference will be Pound as a composer of music in and for words. The conference will run from 16 to 18 April.

Translators have won a strange victory. The new Wesleyan University Press selection of the poems of Antonio Machado, Times Alone, translated by Robert Bly (to be reviewed in PNR shortly), put Bly's name in large print on the spine but omit Machado's. Soon perhaps the names of blurb-writers can replace those of authors, much as the names of certain critics appear to have done.

DAVID SCHUBERT is the subject of an ambitious fortieth anniversary issue of the Quarterly Review of Literature, Theodore Weiss's ambitious and innovative journal. It will be remembered that a couple of years ago QRL began publishing issues which consisted of full-length 'slim volumes'-four at a time- introducing new American and translated work 'in depth'. The Schubert issue is in three parts. It begins with Schubert's mature poems and Baudelaire, translations. There follows a section of autobiographical writings and memoirs by those who knew and admired him. In the third section, Ashbery, Ignatow, James Wright and others offer critical assessments. The issue is subtitled 'Works and Days'. The case it makes for Schubert is strong: it will not be possible to overlook him in future assessments of American poetry.

Inkling Publications (P.O.Box 128, Alexandria, Minn. 56308 USA) ask us to mention that they are compiling an International Directory of Writers' Groups. Interested parties should solicit their questionnaire. Michael Farley, former editor of Ceolfrith Press in Sunderland, has set up his own press, Taxus-spelled with the Latin V, TAXVS-in Langley Park, Durham. Five books of poetry were published in November and two more in December, although Michael Farley intends to develop a prose list as soon as he can arrange the finance. A glance at these Taxvs productions shows that high priority is given to design and elegance of appearance, although so far all the publications have been in paperback and are reasonably priced. These are early days, but it looks as if Taxvs will draw on a variety of talents. There will be a bias, though, towards un-glossy, untrendy writing which is likely to be over-looked by publishers who follow the present London fashions. As a Christian, Michael Farley is particularly anxious to bridge the gulf between contemporary literature and the Church (why is popular Christian writing so often sickening these days?); yet it would be wrong to label him as a Christian publisher. Taxvs principally wants excellent poetry and prose. The tenderness of Ric Caddel's 'Black Mountain' lyrics in Sweet Cecily, the black forcefulness of Jon Silkin's Autobiographical Stanzas, the perceptive strength of Mary Johnson's Here on Earth, and the startling poems of William Martin's Cracknrigg (late roses on a medieval Northumbrian tree) testify to Taxvs's catholicity and originality in matters of taste Catalogues are available from Michael Farley, TAXVS Press, 30 Logan Street, Langley Park, Durham.
(Anne Stevenson)

POETRY MATTERS is the new house journal of Harry Chambers/Peterloo Poets. The first issue (Autumn 1983) is available at £1.50 (Treovis Farm Cottage, Upton Cross, Liskeard, Cornwall). It includes new poems by Peterloo authors, the first chapter of Richard H. Francis's psychological thriller The Enormous Dwarf, an excerpt from a play by Francis, and an article on Kipling The production is attractive, the layout generous. It is very much a 'house journal' and a clear index of the editor's strong preferences in verse and prose.

Peterloo Poetry Cassette 1 features 45 minutes of U. A. FANTHORPE and of ELMA MITCHELL reading and introducing poems from their Peterloo collections. (£6.00, address as above)

The LOMOND PRESS (4 Whitecraigs, Kinnesswood, Kinross, Scotland) was set up in 1978 by R. L. Cook, in the first instance to publish a pamphlet of his own work. It was not until 1980 that the imprint became more active, producing collections, anthologies and celebrations, sometimes working with Enitharmon. From 1981 Lomond Press has issued about four titles a year, all poetry. The publisher solicits most of the mate rial published and produces the work in consultation with the authors. Letterpress is still used-a remarkable persistence. The books appear in limited editions. The late Leonard Clark is among the authors on the list. An interesting dimension is the Turnstone Series, selections of minor poets of the last four centuries. 'The series aims to make available brief but representative selections of two to six contemporary or near-contemporary poets per volume'. So far, Henry King, Richard Crashaw, Joseph Addison, William Broome and Richard Savage have featured. Minor -yes, but it's worth getting on Lomond's mailing list for these attractive offerings.

This item is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.



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