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This item is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

News & Notes

In 1998 the United Nations General Assembly declared 2001 as the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilisations. The UN Society of Writers, with Rattapallax Press are presenting a programme of over 200 poetry readings in 100 cities worldwide as part of this year long drive. On Thursday 29 March at the United Nations Building New York, the Personal Representative for the Secretary-General, Giandomenico Picco, will host an evening of poetry and discussion as an early highlight of the programme. There will be readings by the Pulitzer Prize- Winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa and the writers Joyce Carol Oates and James Ragan. Other events include an international literary conference co-organised by Poetry International - Rotterdam featuring John Kinsella, co-editor of Stand, and David H. Lynn, editor of the Kenyon Review. More information on the entire programme can be found on the Dialogue website at

The great Slovak poet, JAN ONDRUS, died on 7 November 2000, writes James Sutherland-Smith. Although he began his writing career in the late 1940s, his first published collection, Crazy Moon, did not emerge until 1965 after an earlier work had been suppressed. An overnight sensation, he won the Ivan Krasko prize and published consistently until 1972 when In a State of Gall was greeted with a resounding silence from the critics. Poor health and the inability to publish throughout the 1970s resulted in his placement in a retirement home in the 1980s where he lived until his death. Interest in his work was permitted in the 1980s, which allowed two earlier volumes of poetry to appear, and enabled the author to work on a Collected which was published in 1997. He was elevated to the ranks of the leading modernists with translations into German and English, despite suffering what the critic, Peter Zajac, described as 'Hölderlin's fate'.

Professor GEORGE STEINER has been appointed the Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University for the coming year.

Ireland's Poetry Now Festival runs from 22 to 25 March in Dun Laoghaire. A keynote address from 'one of the most respected and influential readers of poetry in the world' will be confirmed shortly. (Long odds are available on former Foreign Secretary, Kenneth Baker; see review section.) An international line-up includes Marilyn Hacker, Adam Thorpe and Craig Raine, while the Irish presence includes Justin Quinn and Peter Sirr. Details of the programme can be obtained on +353 1 205 4749 or by email at

RALPH BATES, revolutionary, soldier, professor, novelist and poet died in New York last November at the age of 101. He took part in the uprising in Las Asturias in 1934, the same year Lean Men, his first novel, was published. The Olive Field, fêted in Europe and North America, was published in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War broke out. Fighting first with one of the Spanish militia, and then with an international battalion of the 15th Spanish Brigade, he founded the International Brigades' newspaper and worked at the front. Settling in New York after the Second World War, he was friends with Auden, taught at NYU and became an adjunct professor of literature and humanities, retiring in 1968. He spent the last thirty years of his life between New York and Greece, continuing to teach until his ninetieth year.

The faculty of translation and interpretation in the Centre for Portuguese Language Camões Institute at the University of Barcelona has honoured the translator and academic GIOVANNI PONTIERO by the creation of a prize bearing his name, worth 5,000 euros, for an original work translated from the Portuguese and published within the last four years. Further details can be obtained from the University or on the net at Pontiero was born in Glasgow in 1932 and died in Manchester, where he was a professor in the Spanish and Portuguese Department, in 1996. He won many awards, including the Camões Institute translation Award (1968), the Independent Foreign Fiction Award (1993) and the Teixeira-Gomes Prize from the Portuguese government in 1995. He was best known for his translations of Clarice Lispector and José Saramago.

GREGORY CORSO, a beat bad boy with a history that lived up to the hype, died on 17 January, aged 70. Discovering poetry while in prison for armed robbery, the patronage of first Ginsburg, then Kerouac and Burroughs led to the 1957 Beat tour that electrified America. After living in Paris, he returned to the US and a sporadic career teaching at NYU. Selling his notebooks to raise the money demanded for his drug and alcohol use, he lived a chaotic but energetic life, refusing to relinquish to the ebullience and humour which mark out his work from much else produced by the group.

The recent death of AUBERON WAUGH brings to mind many of the services he has performed for literature over the years. Not least among them is the constant encouragement he has shown for modern poetry in all its forms. Contributing to the Commonplace Book published to celebrate thirty years of Carcanet's existence, he said: 'At a time when there is no worthwhile poetry being published in the English language, we must all take our hats off to Carcanet for staying in business against the day that somebody decides to write some.'

The American poet HERBERT MORRIS died in Philadelphia in November last year. Publishing three acclaimed collections in the 1980s - Peru, Dream Palace and The Little Voices of the Pears - he was silent for a decade before producing his final book, What Was Lost (Counterpoint Press), in 1990. This last collection garnered a great deal of praise, as well as a prized Lannan Fellowship in Poetry.

The Reader magazine, international poetry journal, launches issue number 8 on 15 March in Liverpool. It includes conversations with and poems by Seamus Heaney and Peter Robinson, new poems by Elizabeth Jennings and articles on a wide range of issues. The launch, at the University of Liverpool, will feature readings by Les Murray, Peter Robinson, Michael Symmons Roberts and Matt Simpson. Further details from the English Department, University of Liverpool, L69 7ZR.

An email communication received recently by a not unknown publisher of poetry accused the entire publishing industry of profiting from the work of the Catholic Church in the seventh century. Relying as we do, to a greater or lesser extent, on 'THE LITTLE LEAFED, LEFT BOUND, PRINT TWO SIDE, SHELF LOCATABLE RECTANGLE' often called a book, we are accused of sitting on fourteen hundred years worth of design royalties. Financial Directors around the country are considering the position carefully.

In a piece by Guy Russell in the latest issue of The Rialto (Winter 2000) titled 'MA in Poetry Writing: General Paper 11 June 2000, Three Hours. Answer four questions only', the author imagines an exam paper for the modern era. Questions include:

'Parody ANY poem by John Ashbery as if by Paul Muldoon OR Parody ANY poem by John Ashbery as if by John Ashbery OR Parody ANY parody by Peter Reading by Peter Reading by Peter Reading by
What is Postmodernism?'

News & Notes compiled by CHRIS GRIBBLE.

This item is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

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