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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 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.

News & Notes Compiled by Eleanor Crawforth
Poetry, the magazine of the Chicago-based Poetry Foundation, has won an 'Ellie' award from The American Society of Magazine Editors for its poetry podcasts. The award recognises digital innovations in magazine media. This is the first 'Ellie' for the Poetry Foundation, which was previously nominated in 2010 and beat off competition from fellow finalists including the New Yorker, Slate, Tablet and the Harvard Business Review. Available to download from iTunes and www.poetryfoundation.org, the monthly podcast features Poetry editors Christian Wiman and Don Share talking to poets and critics, debating magazine content and sharing poems with listeners. Wiman is struck by how well poetry and technology cooperate: 'I sometimes think that the Internet, which changes every time you blink, is actually returning poetry to its ancient origins as an oral art form. Or who knows, maybe poetry, like a purifying agent, is changing the Internet into a place that can accommodate a deeper kind of consciousness. Either way, the Poetry podcast is one marriage between art and technology that seems to work, and we all feel very grateful to the judges for noticing.'

SUSAN HOWE received Yale University's Bollingen Prize in American Poetry in March. The Bollingen judges commented, 'In more than three decades of writing, Susan Howe has discovered the ground of a new American poetry, one that combines the most unlikely elements: history and mysticism, Puritan New England devotional writing and the Irish folk ballad, visual lyricism and dramatic narrative, scholarship and memoir ... Howe has given American poetry a new voice and a new language.' The prize is awarded biennially by Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. From its controversial beginnings in 1948, when the Fellows in American Letters of the Library of Congress awarded the prize to Ezra Pound for The Pisan Cantos, the Bollingen Prize has honoured the literary accomplishments of poets whose work continues to 'define modern American literature'.

The Innovation in Irish Poetry conference at University College Cork has issued a call for papers. Taking place on 12 July 2011, the conference will re-examine the influence of Irish modernism on British and American writers and explore recent developments in Irish and international poetics. Proposals for papers of approximately twenty minutes' duration should be sent to James Cummins at the School of English at University College Cork or to irishpoetryconference@gmail.com.

The Irish poet PETER SIRR has received the 2011 Michael Hartnett Poetry Award for his Gallery Press collection The Thing Is. The judges were Mary O'Malley, Thomas McCarthy and Boethius translator James Harpur. They describe the book enigmatically as 'a work of great technical skill in verse-craft that is lifted beyond mere craft by the power of reflective waiting'. Poetry as passive resistance? In any case, Peter Sirr is no stranger to poetry prizes, having received the Patrick Kavanagh Award.

A number of poetry organisations were felled by the Arts Council's axe on 30 March 2011, as the organisation announced its spending review following the government's reduction of its budget by almost 30 per cent. Publishers Flambard, Arc and Enitharmon lost their regular funding entirely, while The Poetry Trust (organiser of the much-loved Aldeburgh Poetry Festival) and the Poetry Book Society (PBS) were major casualties. Set up by the Arts Council in 1953 at the suggestion of Sir Stephen Spender, the PBS counted T.S. Eliot and Sir Basil Blackwell among its original directors and now runs the T.S. Eliot Prize. Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy said of the decision to withdraw its subsidy, 'This news goes beyond shocking and touches the realms of the disgusting. The PBS is one of poetry's most sacred churches with an influence and reach far beyond its membership. This fatal cut is a national shame and a scandal and I urge everyone who cares about poetry to join the PBS as a matter of urgency.' Chris Holifield, Director of the PBS, commented: 'We are stunned by the Arts Council decision which will impact on thousands of poetry lovers, poets and poetry publishers. We will try to find a way for the PBS to survive but its future must now be in doubt, and the poetry world and especially poetry readers will be the losers.' The PBS has launched a petition at http://www.petitiononline.co.uk/petition /save-the-poetry-book-society. Faber is among eleven literature organisations to be added to ACE's funding portfolio, and will receive £40,000 each year from April 2012 to 2015 for its poetry programme. The charity Poet in the City, which hosts poetry events in businesses and unusual venues across London, is another beneficiary of the new funding scheme.

Google has engaged in 'wholesale, blatant copying, without first obtaining copyright permission', a US District Court Judge declared on 22 March in New York. US magazine Publishers Weekly reported on Judge Denny Chin's surprising - and from the authors' and their estates' point of view, welcome - verdict on the Google digitisation project. Judge Chin rejected the Google Book Settlement thirteen months after its final 'fairness hearing', concluding that it was 'not fair, adequate, and reasonable'. While he did not doubt the value of digitisation, he agreed with the settlement's critics that it gave Google an unfair advantage. 'While the digitization of books and the creation of a universal digital library would benefit many, the [settlement] would simply go too far ...Indeed, [it] would give Google a significant advantage over competitors, rewarding it for engaging in wholesale copying of copyrighted works without permission, while releasing claims well beyond those presented in the case.' Google loses the first battle, but how about the war?

The New York Times of 5 March reported the death of JOHN HAINES, the Virginia-born, Alaskan homesteader poet who wrote about hunting, trapping and survival against the odds. He was eighty-six years old. Haines wrote of delicate things seen and touched, and of hunting and butchering game. There was a religious inflection both to his awe and praise and also to the violence required for survival. Edouard Roditi described him as 'a poet of sheer wonder'. He is a man in the tradition of Jack London and Robert Service, but more lonely and more of a piece. His commitment to the wilderness was total and unconditional. Ed Hirsch writes of his 'primitive pantheism that prays outward to the snowy owl and the gods of winter', of which there are many in Alaska. He wrote poetry, essays and autobiography and was much celebrated in and beyond the forty-ninth state, to which he emigrated in 1947, buying a 160-acre homestead eighty miles southeast of Fairbanks. He had intended to be a painter but the paint froze, so he became a writer. Haines was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Library of Congress.

PNR's Welsh correspondent Sam Adams remembers Raymond Garlick:
RAYMOND GARLICK, poet and critic, has died, aged eighty-six. English by birth and parentage, he discovered a love of Wales while studying at Bangor University, where he also began acquiring a thorough knowledge of Welsh. He helped to found the magazine Dock Leaves/Anglo-Welsh Review and was its first editor. He was an expert in the history of Welsh writing in English and was devoted to the cause of Welsh nationhood within the culture and civilisation of Europe. While they may have political and other everyday themes, many of his poems are characterised by intricate patterning. He published five volumes of poetry, including Collected Poems (1987).

Roger Garfitt remembers William Martin:
WILLIAM MARTIN, who died last September at the age of eighty-five, was a poet of a kind we may not see again, a visionary who drew on a strong local tradition. Reared in Silksworth, a pit village in the Durham Coalfield, he told the story of the slogan bread, loaves brought by miners to striking comrades and laid out in slogans on the hillside, and asked 'What kingdom without common feasting?' He remembered the Miners' Gala in 1951, the year of the Easington Disaster, the 'thronged, comforting hush' when the banner, draped in black crape, was carried down onto the racecourse. Such moments became images of community, intimations that 'Here and here is the Kingdom'.

The vision is enshrined in the title of his first Bloodaxe collections, Marra Familia ('marra' being a dialect term for a workmate), and in the very look of the book, which sets a photo of the Black Madonna of Montserrat in a gold frame of Celtic interlace drawn by William Martin himself. I once wrote of his concern 'to restore the collective symbols, releaf the ikons with gold': here he does that literally, to striking effect. Even his collections from Taxus, where he could only draw in black and white, have a distinctive visual quality. All four of his full-length collections, Cracknrigg and Hinny Beata from Taxus, Marra Familia and Lammas Alanna, can be ordered from his web-site, www.williammartinpoet.com, where, alongside tributes from fellow poets, you can find the text of 'Arl', a Creation myth of his own devising, and hear him reading in the beautifully modulated voice that made him a cantor for his community.

ROGER GARFITT'S own prose memoir has just been published by Jonathan Cape (21 April).The Horseman's Word recounts his various journeys from stable boy to jazz dancer, from Oxford dandy to sixties drop-out. It moves from the poet's rural Norfolk childhood to his time spent in a mental health unit, via an encounter with David Bowie in which Garfitt realises that the wrong one has come as the rock star. Anne Stevenson calls it an 'astonishing memoir ... As a portrait of a poet growing up as war-torn England became swinging England in the 1950s and 60s, I can't believe it could be bettered.'

How to create a poetry bestseller? Publishers might do well to look to Rochester for an answer. A researcher at Oxford University thinks she may have uncovered the reason for the success of an apparently serious volume called The Works of the Earls of Rochester and Roscommon, which ran to more than twenty editions and was reprinted throughout the eighteenth century. Dr Claudine van Hensbergen attributes the book's popularity to the presence of three titillating poems bound in at the back of the 1714 edition, seemingly in praise of the dildo. The first, 'The Discovery', is narrated by a man who lies concealed in a lady's bedroom and is surprised to see her pull from her pocket a 'Tool, / Much like to that with which Men Women rule'. As the scene unfolds, the narrator suffers from what Van Hensbergen calls 'dildo envy'. Van Hensbergen speculates that the hidden section of pornographic poems, salaciously titled The Cabinet of Love, may have been a 'shared secret' among readers. 'The Cabinet is unusual,' she said, 'because it shows us that people read pornographic writing directly alongside the verse of major poets. This raises interesting questions about what counts as literature and where the boundaries between high and low culture lie. These ideas were much more fluid in the eighteenth century than they are today.'

This item is taken from PN Review 199, Volume 37 Number 5, May - June 2011.



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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