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This item is taken from PN Review 22, Volume 8 Number 2, November - December 1981.

News & Notes
This issue of PNR, including as it does work by JANOS PILINSZKY, TAKIS SINOPOULOS and ROBERT GARIOCH, has assumed while in preparation a sadly elegiac look. These poets, and PETER HUCHEL and the translator of Vasko Popa, ANNE PENNINGTON, have died in recent months. We dedicate this issue of PNR to these five writers.

ROBERT GARIOCH, whose translations of Belli sonnets appear in this issue, died on 26 April at the age of 71. As Belli remained faithful to Rome in the langauge and subject-matter of his sonnets, so Garioch remained faithful to Edinburgh, from his first important work, The Masque of Edinburgh (1933) to his last poems and translations. After the Second World War-during which he spent four years as a prisoner in Italy and Germany, the subject of his prose book, Two Men and a Blanket (1975)-he became a schoolmaster. He is one of the leading British comic poets of our time, but his range is wide: he wrote lyric and narrative poems, translated Pindar, Hesiod and the Anglo-Saxon laments, etc. He was also a fine reader of his work. His Collected Poems were issued in paperback in 1980 by Carcanet New Press. In his last letter to PNR, enclosing the Belli sonnets, he said: 'I've done 83 of these sonnets now. That leaves 2,196 to go.'

In 'Reports and Letters', Michael Hulse writes at some length about PETER HUCHEL, whose work was featured in PNR 19 in Michael Hamburger's versions.

TAKIS SINOPOULOS, like Pilinszky, Garioch and Pennington due to take part in the Cambridge Poetry Festival in June, died shortly before he was to come to Britain. He was 64. Born in 1917 in the village of Agoulinitas near Pyrgos, NW Peloponnesus, he has been described as the leading poet of the generation directly after that of George Seferis. At the Cambridge Poetry Festival, his translator, John Stathatos, read from the recently-published Selected Poems (available from I. P. D., 12 Stevenage Road, Fulham, London SW6 6ES).

JANOS PILINSZKY died on 27 May, at the age of 59. His first small book, issued in 1946, established him as one of the most original Hungarian writers of our time. His Roman Catholicism (not altogether orthodox) and his choice of simple forms and direct expression set him apart from many of his contemporaries. He attempts to witness to his experiences in the Second World War-to witness plainly, with statements so pared as to seem under-statements. His poems were published in English by Carcanet (Selected Poems, tr. Ted Hughes and Janos Csokits, 1976) and Anvil Press (Crater, tr. Peter Jay, 1978). Peter Jay presented the Cambridge tribute to him.

Less than a year after taking up the Chair of Comparative Slavonic Philology at Oxford, ANNE PENNINGTON died suddenly on 27 May. She was 47. Her research into many aspects of Slavonic philology was original and highly valuable; but to readers of contemporary poetry she was known chiefly as a remarkably tactful and resourceful translator of the poems of Vasko Popa. Popa, who attended the Cambridge Poetry Festival, paid Anne Pennington a memorable verse tribute.

In PNR 20 we announced that books reviewed here would in future be available from the POETRY BOOKSHOP in Hay-on-Wye. We now learn that Michael Farley and Anne Stevenson will be closing the shop down due to the uncertainty of its financial future. The absence of firm assurances concerning forward funding from subsidising bodies and the force of the recession have not assisted the ambitious project that was set up so recently.

We have begun receiving copies of the English-language magazine SWEDISH BOOKS, established in 1978 and offering an interesting survey of developments in Sweden. The current number features a long assessment of the later poetry of Gunnar Ekelöf, material of interest to students of D. H. Lawrence, and other features. NORTHERN LIGHTS REVIEW -a projected periodical in English on writing in the languages of Scandinavia at large-Danish, Finnish, Icelandic, Inuit, Lapp, Norwegian and Swedish-is now projected. It will publish reviews of untranslated work, translations of fiction, non-fiction, drama and poetry, interviews and general articles. The editors, we are assured, will include 'some of the leading contemporary writers in Scandinavia'. The Nordic Council, Copenhagen, is helping to finance the project. Both publications are available from 'Swedish Books', Box 2387, S-403 16 Göteborg, Sweden.

Theodore Weiss, that resourceful editor of the QUARTERLY REVIEW OF LITERATURE, has begun a new programme-the publication of double issues which present four to six book-length collections of poetry. Volume 21, numbers 1-2, includes the work of Brian Swann (best known as a translator from the Italian), Reginald Gibbons (also well-known as an editor and translator), David Galler and E. G. Burrows. The subsequent issue will include translated work as well. In paperback each volume costs $10.00 ($15.00 for both numbers). Quarterly Review of Literature has been instrumental in presenting the work of a number of the best younger poets over the last 35 years. This new development is the natural extension of a long commitment and a substantial periodical achievement.

Literary magazines (this one is no exception) traditionally have trouble with their 'periodicity'. THE PARIS REVIEW has just published The 25th-Anniversary Double Issue-two years late. The journal is a quarterly: one might expect that over 100 issues would have appeared, but this anniversary number is 79. It is big-420 pages-and reasonably priced- $10.00-and available from 45-39 171st Place, Flushing, N.Y. 11358. The line-up is in character-Ashbery, Creeley, Dickey, Hollander, Howard, Kennedy, Kinnell . . . and a British contingent including Gunn and Davie. Since it is an anniversary issue, a number of dead writers contribute, including Hemingway and Faulkner (who are not at their best, in fact). William Gass, however, is very much at his best in a fine story.

The remarkable writer and now co-director of the New York Institute for the Humanities RICHARD SENNETT contributed to the International Herald Tribune (10 June 1981) a polemic about Ronald Reagan's policy for the arts. 'Is American Culture Being Set Adrift?' the headline asks. Sennett thinks-yes. Thirty per cent. cuts in Federal Arts budgets are forecast, The sums involved are small in relation to 'what it costs to build a new submarine'. Scientific research, university staffing and cultural areas other than the arts are equally affected. Sennett adduces three reasons for the Reagan administration's apparent vindictiveness towards 'culture'. Ideologically, the administration believes that private enterprise will do it all better. Private patronage is better than state patronage, despite the strings that might attach. Then there is a resurgence of anti-intellectualism. Finally, Sennett identifies the hostility with a group of intellectuals close to the White House-men motivated by resentment 'at the low esteem in which they are generally held by other writers and editors' and by an antagonism to what they see as a left-wing arts establishment. Yet the answer to Richard Sennett's question is likely to be-no, American culture is not being set adrift, because it has not reached a state of complete dependence on state support and therefore the reduction of state patronage will not have the same sort of effect that a similar policy in Britain might have.

United States authorities in Mallorca and in Mexico City have refused a visa to enter Puerto Rico and the United States to the exiled Uruguayan writer MARIO BENEDETTI, a distinguished figure in contemporary Latin American literature. Benedetti cannot, as a result, participate in a poetry festival and conference at the Interamerican University in Puerto Rico. His exclusion is clearly an act of censorship. It is not unprecedented: writers such as Marquez, Cortazar, Fuentes and Covian have been denied visas in the past. (Index MC 13)

Eight of the 26 human rights activists arrested in Prague on 6 May were still in custody awaiting trial on 9 June on charges of 'subversion of the Republic'. Nine others, though released, are likely to be brought to trial. Most of the accused are writers, poets and journalists who played an important role in the prolific 'cultural samizdat'. Their arrest may be seen as an attempt to stifle Eastern Europe's second largest unofficial publishing network. (Index GT 11)

AHMED FOUAD NEGM, Egyptian 'poet of the people', was arrested on 29 April and is being held in the Citadel Prison in Cairo. He is reported to have been ill-treated during interrogation and on hunger strike. He went underground three years ago and published some of his poems abroad. Negm is 52. He has been in and out of prison for 20 years. He first got into trouble for trade union activity in Cairo in 1959. Scenes from Life and Prison was his first book. The poems were taken up by Sheikh Imam who set them to music and sang them in the streets and slums. The poems were recorded and gained wide currency, to the alarm of the authorities. Negm writes a colloquial Egyptian dialect; he is a vivid satirist, but his poems include work in other registers. The Nasser and Sadat regimes have both constrained him. (Index AW 1)

Writers working through the WRITERS' GUILD and the SOCIETY OF AUTHORS have started a campaign to secure a 'minimum term' agreement with publishers. It is unlikely that publishers will negotiate collectively with the groups of writers involved. Thus the guild and the society will have to start approaching individual publishing houses. Given the variety of publishers and the variety of their current vulnerabilities during the recession, it is doubtful whether many will agree in writing to meet the terms suggested in the proposed 26-clause document. Many are doubtful about negotiating at all with a union of writers, not because they fail to see the justice of the proposals set forth (many publishers already grant the terms sought, several grant rather more than is being asked) but because they are reluctant to accept the precedent of collective negotiation. Certainly the notion of one form of contract to cover, for instance, a book of literary scholarship, a romantic novel, a volume of poems and a tome on royal cookery seems, on the face of it, absurd. Writers are, as Eva Figes says, 'very vulnerable cottage workers'-but then so, increasingly, are many publishers.

The election of a Socialist president in France has been welcomed by many elements in the French book trade as heralding-just in time-the re-institution of retail price maintenance. If they are right then the smaller and the specialist booksellers who have been so under threat may live to fight another day.

This item is taken from PN Review 22, Volume 8 Number 2, November - December 1981.



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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