Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

This item is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

News & Notes
The American magazine Samizdat dedicates much of its Spring issue to celebrating Clayton Eshleman's work as writer and, more importantly, as editor of Sulfur, which for almost two decades (46 issues) has promoted - in the editor's invariably polysyllabic diction - 'multiple aspects of innovative international poetry in the context of international modernism'. Sulfur has lamentably published its last issue this year. It is a magazine which impinged all too little on a British readership. Born in California in 1981, it was from the beginning outwardlooking and Eshleman tried to forge links. PN Review at the time took rather a dim view of Eshleman's project, and this in retrospect seems an unfortunate decision because much that Eshleman did with his magazine, in terms of publishing translations, new writing and rediscoveries, was radical in the best sense. Sulfur was everything an independent literary magazine should be and even when it secured institutional funding it stayed true to its lights. It was par excellence the 'antidote to official verse culture'.

LORNA GOODISON has been honoured with the Gold Musgrave Award from the Institute of Jamaica for services to poetry. This award is the highest Jamaican cultural award, and comes as she is about to celebrate the publication of Guinea Woman: New & Selected Poems (Carcanet) in September and read at Poetry International on the South Bank.

The magazine Oasis has for thirty years published without grant assistance and has reached its one hundredth issue, a special 88-page number still under the editorship of the founder Ian Robinson, who reflects on the fact that a magazine lives if its grows and changes - format, direction, orientation. Oasis was instrumental in promoting the early work of John Ash and in keeping faith with writers such as Roy Fisher, Matthew Mead, Christopher Middleton, Peter Riley and Nathaniel Tarn. It has found space for translation, and found good translators. (Oasis 100: £4.50 from Oasis Books, 12 Stevenage Road, London SW6 6ES.)

When Helmut Heissenbüttel claimed that experiment and tradition were neither incompatible not irreconcilable, he struck on a more than adequate description of the work of ERNST JANDL, who has died at the age of 85 in Vienna. A poet of innovative and revolutionary capacities, he became, perhaps against the odds, one of the most popular poets of the post war period. His 'Sprechgedichte', 'Lautgedichte', everyday and visual poems added to, rather than restricted the resources of poetry. Born in Vienna in 1925, he served time in the army, time as a prisoner of war, and gave many years service to poetry and literature, winning a multitude of prizes and honours along the way, including the Kleist Prize in 1993 and the Hölderlin Prize in 1995. His list of publications would struggle to be constrained on a single page, and his work fights against any simplistic reduction to 'concrete poetry' ('i love concrete / i love pottery / but i'm not / a concrete pot'). Stretching the boundaries of grammar, syntax, form and even the poet/reader relationship, his simplicity is as revealing as his skill, his sense of joy as rewarding as the almost endless capacity for contradiction, paradox and ambiguity which are unleashed in his work. Jandl spent periods in England throughout his life, and taught English for many years. The English language, both its literary weight and absurdity, is a strong presence in his work. He claimed that art is 'the perpetual implementation of a freedom', and by making use of all the resources of language, from dialect, sound, shape, form and so on, he claimed a unique spot in the history of twentieth century literature. His collected poetic works in ten volumes were published by Luchterhand in 1997.

JOSÉ ANGEL VALENTE, among Spain's outstanding contemporary poets, has died at the age of 71 in Geneva. Born at the time when the '1927 Generation' poets had begun their rise to international fame, he himself came to prominence with the third wave of post-Civil War poets during the 1950s. A student of law, then of Romance philology, his first collection (translated as In Hopeful Mode) was published in 1955 to great acclaim. It was the only book he wrote entirely in Spain. He sought exile in 1955, first in Oxford, where he taught, and then in Geneva where he worked until 1980 as a translator for the World Health Organisation. During this period he wrote the poetry which made his reputation as the leading Spanish writer of his generation. He translated many writers including Cavafy, Celan, Montale, Donne and Keats. Concentrating on the 'experience of poetry' rather than the 'poetry of experience', he sought and found a transparency which invited the reader to trust his language and repaid trust with an intense, pure aesthetic very much his own.

The prodigious poet, critic and teacher KARL SHAPIRO has died aged 86 in New York. Bearing the marks of Yeats and Auden, he found a way of creating a poetry as American as he was. Randall Jarrell noted his 'Donne-like smash' and 'something very racy and Jewish' enhancing the Audenesque wit. Shapiro would not, however, be tamed by any categorisation. A college dropout, sometime soldier, Pulitzer Prizewinner at the the age of 32 (for V-Letter) and editor of Poetry magazine before he was 40, he taught for two decades at the University of California at Davis before retiring in 1988. His journey from the formally traditional and technically adroit early work, through to the polemical, free-form and controversial later work was eventful, fraught and wholly committed.

The poet and teacher IAN DAVIE died on 4 June in North Yorkshire. Born in the North Riding in 1924, he studied at St John's College, Oxford, along with Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin and John Wain, and edited Oxford Poetry 1942-1943 which contained poems by John Heath-Stubbs, Sidney Keyes, David Wright and the first book appearance of Philip Larkin. He was discovered by Siegfried Sassoon in 1960 when he submitted the typescript of Piers Prodigal for his opinion. Sassoon wrote a forward to the collection and at his instigation it was published by the Harvill Press in 1961. After Oxford and the army (serving with the Gordon Highlanders in India), he returned to Oxford, reading Theology. He converted to Roman Catholicism in 1950 and began a career in teaching. After periods with the Civil Service in Hong Kong and Cambodia he returned to teaching, finally as head of English and Drama, and then assistant master at Ampleforth. He retired in 1991, and remained in Yorkshire until his death.

The influential editor, cultural historian and political commentator ANTHONY HARTLEY, has died at the age of 74. After Oxford and the Sorbonne, he edited The Penguin Book of French Verse (1959) and the Penguin Mallarmé (1965). His friendship with Ian Hamilton led to regular review work for The Spectator, in whose pages he championed work by many members of the Movement group. He was also responsible for publishing the article by F.R. Leavis which set off the long debate on literary and scientific culture between Leavis and C.P. Snow. After periods at the Guardian and the Sunday Telegraph, he worked for several years in New York before returning to London as deputy head of the London office of the European Commission under Richard Mayne. He continued reviewing and writing until late in his life.

Southfields, for six years a championing force for poetry and the avant-garde in Scotland has produced its final issue. Edited by Raymond Friel, David Kinloch and Richard Price, the magazine published 'poetry, cultural criticism and everything in between'. The current, and all back issues, are available from Raymond Friel, 16 Portway, Frome, Somerset BA11 1QP, or Richard Price, 8 Richmond Road, Staines, TW18 2AB. Perhaps as a final act of defiance, there is no price to be found on the last edition.

News from Finland. The seventh Dancing Bear Poetry Prize, awarded every May for a book of poetry from the previous year, went to Jyrki Kiiskinen, current editor of Books from Finland, for his fourth collection of poems, Kun elän ('As I Live', Tammi, 1999). Antero Tiusanen received the Mikael Agricola Prize (literary translation) from the the Finnish Translators' and Interpreters' Association for his version of August Strindberg's By the Open Sea. The Translation Bear Prize was awarded by the Finnish Broadcasting Company to Professor Emeritus, writer and poet Lars Huldén and his son Mats Huldén for their translation of the Kalevala into Swedish.

In the most recent Poetry Review, a correspondent complains of John Burnside's scant attention to the matter in hand whilst reviewing Penelope Shuttle's A Leaf Out of His Book. If, she adds, 'John Burnside wants to show off the breadth of his reading and erudition, and hypothecate on the metaphysics of poetry, could he please save it for an essay in, say, PNR?'

The Forward Prize 2000 short list has been announced. The short list for the Best Collection is as follows: John Burnside The Asylum Dance (Cape), Michael Donaghy Conjure (Picador), Douglas Dunn The Donkey's Ears (Faber), Kathleen Jamie Jizzen (Picador) and Matthew Sweeney A Smell of Fish (Cape). The Waterstone's Prize for Best First Collection short list consists of Colette Bryce The Heel of Bernadette (Picador), Brian Henry Astro Naut (Arc), Joanne Limburg Femenismo (Bloodaxe), Owen Sheers The Blue Book (Seren) and Andrew Waterhouse In (The Rialto). The Tolman Cunard Prize for the Best Single Poem short list is Tessa Biddington 'The Death of Descartes' (Bridport Prize), Robert Hamberger 'Die Bravely' (Acumen), Ruth Padel 'Cascavel' (PN Review), Pascale Petit 'The Strait-Jackets' (The Rialto) and Charles Simic 'Past-Lives Therapy' (LRB).

This item is taken from PN Review 135, Volume 27 Number 1, September - October 2000.

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