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This item is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.News & Notes
The Royal Society of Literature's annual T.S. Eliot Memorial Meeting on 13 December 2010 will pay tribute to PETER PORTER. The Australian poet, who died in April (obituary in PNR 194), has been described as 'a cultural epoch all to himself'. Four fellow poets will celebrate his work: Anthony Thwaite, who knew Porter for half a century, Fiona Sampson, editor of Poetry Review, and Don Paterson and Sean O'Brien, who edited Porter's recently published Selected Poems. Visit www.rslit.org or telephone 0207 845 4676 for more information.
As a last gift to Glasgow, the city's late poet laureate EDWIN MORGAN gave his blessing for one of his poems to be used as part of the city's Commonwealth Games celebrations. Morgan's tribute to his native city has been made into a short film to mark the handover of the Games from Delhi to Glasgow, which hosts them in 2014. 'A City' opens with the lines: 'What was all that then? What? That. That was Glasgow.' Filmmaker Katri Walker received Morgan's approval for her project days before he died in August, a 'bittersweet' experience. She found in Glasgow citizens from all seventy-one competing countries - from a century-old Belizean now living in West Hailes to a ten-year-old schoolboy from Mozambique - and asked each to read a line of Morgan's poem in a Glasgow location of their choice. The resulting work, commissioned by Glasgow's Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA), uses the poem to build an intimate, collaged portrait of Glasgow and its diverse population. The City is the Film premiered in October and will be screened at venues across Glasgow in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. It can be viewed online at http://vimeo.com/15616905 and on the CCA's Facebook page.
SEAMUS HEANEY won the £10,000 Forward Prize for Best Collection for the first time in October, for his twelfth collection Human Chain (Faber). Heaney had been shortlisted twice before, in 1996 for The Spirit Level and in 2006 for District and Circle. Announcing the Prizes at Somerset House, the founder of the Forward Arts Foundation William Sieghart praised Heaney for his generosity to other poets. He recounted how, upon being shortlisted in 1996, the poet had telephoned the Forward organisers to request that someone else receive the prize, having himself been 'honoured quite enough' that year, with the Nobel Prize.
HILARY MENOS, an organic farmer from Devon, won the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection for Berg (Seren), and Eric Gregory Award-winner JULIA COPUS was awarded Best Single Poem (in memory of Michael Donaghy) for 'An Easy Passage', first published in Magma magazine.
Goethe's West-östlicher Diwan (West-Eastern Divan) has been translated into Marathi, the first time that the collection of lyrical poems has been translated into any of the Indian languages. The Marathi version, translated by M.R. Deo, was published as Paschim-Poorva-Setu and includes a substantial foreword by the scholar of German language and culture Pramod Talgeri. Goethe wrote the West-Eastern Divan between 1814 and 1819, inspired by the Persian poet Hafiz. 'In advanced age, Goethe always thought of the unity of world literature. He believed that there would be only world literature in the future, not national literature,' writes Talgeri in his introduction.
Oxford-based Tower Poetry has published two anthologies to mark its tenth anniversary. A Tower Miscellany, edited by poet, academic and Tower Poetry director Peter McDonald, brings together new poems by ten poets - emerging and established - who have been associated with the organisation over the past decade, including Stephen Burt, Helen Mort and Frances Leviston. Panado: Poems from the Tower Poetry Summer School 2009, edited by Jane Draycott and Frances Leviston, features work by fourteen young poets, some of them winners of the Christopher Tower Poetry Competitions for writers aged 16-18 years. Tower Poetry was founded in 2000 following a generous bequest to Christ Church College, Oxford, by the late Christopher Tower. It aims to stimulate enjoyment and critical appreciation of poetry, particularly among young people in education. Visit www.towerpoetry.org.uk for further details or to order copies.
National Book Award-winning poet and translator MARILYN HACKER received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry 2010 in September. The award, established by Hunce Voelcker, is given to a poet whose distinguished and growing body of work to date represents a notable presence in American literature. The 2010 judges were Christopher Ricks, Marie Ponsot and David Ferry. The citation said: 'Marilyn Hacker is a splendid poet. A multiplex of cultural layering carries over her poetic powers into her translations. Her poems and translations are expressions of social or political pity and outrage, it is the pity and outrage of an aroused, alive, strongminded, fair-minded sensibility. These poems and translations bring life to life.' Hacker, who divides her time between New York and Paris, has published translations of Marie Étienne in King of a Hundred Horsemen (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2007) and Vénus Khoury-Ghata in Alphabets of Sand: Selected Poems (Carcanet, 2009).
Books from Poland reminds us that 2011 marks the one hundredth anniversary of the birth of the Nobel Prize-winning Polish writer CZESLAW MILOSZ. The Polish Book Institute will celebrate 'Milosz Year' with a series of international events and the launch of a new website in English: www.milosz365.eu. Web visitors can access a Milosz biography and chronology, a bibliography of his works and translations, a selection of his writing, essays on his work and photographs from throughout his life. And, as Poland prepares to assume the presidency of the European Union for 2011, the slogan, 'Native Europe', is borrowed, fittingly, from Milosz himself.
'Academics at Oxford University have discovered what appears to be a bawdy poem by John Milton while sifting through their archives,' the Independent reported on 23 September 2010. The poem, we are told, was 'discovered' as Dr Jennifer Batt 'trawled through the Harding Collection' of manuscripts, anthologies and songbooks in the Bodleian Library; it 'had been read before, but nobody had noticed that Milton's name had been scrawled at the bottom'. Before scholars of 'the lady of Christ's' get too over-excited, Dr Stuart Gillespie of Glasgow University points out that not a lot of 'discovery' was actually involved. The poem has in fact been in print for 300 years. The rather frail, offcolour ditty entitled 'An Extempore Upon a Faggot, by Milton' was printed in Oxford and Cambridge Miscellany Poems, 1708, and is available to anyone who cares to consult the electronic database Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO).
The Genoese poet, novelist, translator and polymath EDOARDO SANGUINETTI died in May. He was a leading figure in Italian literature's neoavanguardia movement of the 1950s and 1960s, which included a young Umberto Eco. Sanguinetti translated Joyce, Molière, Shakespeare and Brecht, and many classical writers. Sanguineti served as a member of the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian Parliament from 1979-1983. An elegant figure and a great admirer of women, Sanguineti retained a strong sense of writerly mission; 'In half a century,' he said, 'many things have changed, poetry has changed, but not the job of the poet, which is to draw the ideological profile of an era.' The Irish poet John F. Deane offers the following tribute to him:
i.m. Edoardo Sanguineti
It may be possible, from this port city,
to set out across the known and the new
worlds, your masted galleon under sail again;
black-cassocked priests walk slowly out on the piazza
where the water-sculptures rise, and fall, and sing;
you hear the footsteps, across the streets, of the poet
who dressed his joy in life in mourning black,
sent postcards back from native and exotic cities
coloured with his pastel messages of love; now
in the Ducal Palace, under monstrous chandeliers,
ordinary man heists espressos to the gods, breathes
deeply here, inhaling stillness, the heart
filling, as the sails do, till you find yourself
at peace, riding on billows of air towards home.
The Fourth Biennial Conference of the William Carlos Williams Society has issued a call for papers. The conference will take place at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey, from 16 to 18 June 2011. Entitled Life along the Passaic River after Williams's 1938 volume of short stories, it will focus on the poet's engagement with the people of New Jersey, his role as obstetrician and paediatrician, and his innovations in prose and poetry. Attendees will have the chance to take a tour from the city of Paterson, following the river via Bergen County Route 507(S), to Passaic and Wallington, and on to Williams's home in Rutherford. Paper proposals of one page should be submitted to Ian Copestake at firstname.lastname@example.org by 1 April 2011.
The literary critic and long-standing friend of PN Review SIR FRANK KERMODE died in Cambridge on 17 August 2010. A full appreciation of and an interview with him will appear in the next issue of PNR.
This item is taken from PN Review 196, Volume 37 Number 2, November - December 2010.