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This report is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

Tambimuttu Ben Sonnenberg

Does the name ring a bell? Certainly in London, faintly in New York. Thurairajah Tambimuttu. Everyone called him Tambi. A Ceylonese poet, brown skinned, long haired. A bohemian, verbose and skinny. Very British-sounding, too. Actually... In point of fact... When I met him in New York City, in 1956, Tambi must have been about forty. He was the founder and editor of the magazine Poetry London. According to The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry, Tambi had been 'one of the most colourful and influential literary figures' in England in the 1940s. He published the young Lawrence Durrell, he published the young Kathleen Raine, he spoke up for Dylan Thomas and T.S. Eliot spoke up for him, and (to quote the Oxford volume again) he 'was among the first to recognize the talent of Keith Douglas'. Tambi had come over here to start a brand new magazine, Poetry London-New York. He needed a backer and one turned up in the person of a wealthy patrician woman, Mrs Carleton Palmer.

Mrs Palmer was grey, or so I recall, grey haired, grey-gowned, the inhabitant of a great slate-grey apartment in River House on the East River. The Palmers owned a Brancusi. How distinctly it gleams in my memory. (Or was it an Arp?) Mrs Palmer was imposingly well-mannered and touchingly short of sight. She had recently published a book of verse, her second, The New Barbarians. Her pen name was Winthrop Palmer; her family name, Bushnell. Winthrop Bushnell Palmer. What ...


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