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This item is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.News & Notes
Colombian poet PIEDAD BONNETT received the 11th American Poetry Award from the Casa de las Americas cultural association and Spanish publisher Visor Libros. She was awarded the prize for her book Explicaciones no Pedidas (Unsolicited Explanations). The award is one of Latin America's oldest and most distinguished literary prizes, honouring poetry, essays, novels and other forms of literary
A rare autograph TED HUGHES poem dedicated to his publisher Richard Gilbertson was sold at auction by Bonham's in London on 22 November 2011. Hughes's 25-line poem, which raised £875, was inscribed in a pre-publication copy of the first edition of Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (Faber & Faber, 1970), with a dust-jacket designed by Leonard Baskin. Concerning his most famous and controversial volume, it begins: 'Who does not approve...' and continues, '...I admit, Crow is a beast / That sweetens no feast / With flesh or with humour. / But gossip & rumour / Have bitten him bare. / Folly - for a stare, / Error - for an ear, / His wings disappear / From Devon forever. / He will not find better / But peace & rest / And a hidden nest - / Not better, best.' This extempore poem - typical of Hughes's book inscriptions for friends - is inscribed 'To Richard from Ted 6th Oct 1970', the official publication date of the volume being 12 October. Gilbertson was a bookseller who ran the private press at Crediton in Devon that published, inter alia, Hughes's Animal Poems (1967) and The Martyrdom of Bishop Farrar (1970).
JUDITH WILKINSON'S translation of Raptors by toon tellegen (Carcanet, 2011) has won the Popescu Prize for Poetry Translation. Selected from a shortlist of six, Raptors is Tellegen's poem sequence about a dysfunctional family, in which all the poems except the last begin with the phrase 'My Father...'. Wilkinson's is, the judges said, a 'sustained tour de force' of translation. Tellegen's 'complex, often surreal and always highly affecting poems exhibit an understanding of the power of the story in which the dream-like psychology, the marvellously nuanced telling of a family's malaise set him apart as an entirely distinctive voice in European poetry,' wrote judges Sasha Dugdale and Jane Draycott. The Popescu Prize, formerly the European Poetry Translation Prize, is awarded biennially by the Poetry Society for a volume of poetry translated from a European language into English.
The final stage of PN Review's digitisation is complete. Subscribers can now download pdfs of whole issues, starting with PN Review 1, from www.pnreview.co.uk. All 203 issues (and counting) are available for study and download. This facility means readers can visit archived issues as though they were new-minted, with a sense of each issue's visual structure, its juxtapositions and confrontations. The magazine is thus wholly alive online. Subscribers can contact email@example.com if they require a reminder of their login details.
Organisers of the conference entitled 'Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End: Modernism and the First World War' have issued a call for papers. The international gathering takes place at the Institute of English Studies, University of London, 27-29 September 2012, with a keynote lecture by Adam Piette, author of Imagination at War: British Fiction and Poetry 1939-1945. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. Ford's tetralogy was first published as Some Do Not... (1924), No More Parades (1925), A Man Could Stand Up - (1926) and Last Post (1928). The 'Tietjens saga', as it is sometimes known, has been described by Anthony Burgess as 'the finest novel about the First World War' and by Malcolm Bradbury as 'a central Modernist novel of the 1920s, in which it is exemplary'. W.H. Auden added to the chorus: 'There are not many English novels which deserve to be called great: Parade's End is one of them.' During2010-11 Carcanet reissued all four volumes in a landmark publishing project. Edited by Ford experts, these editions provide readers for the first time with reliable texts, detailed annotation and discussion of the novels' histories. 2011 was also the year that the BBC and HBO embarked on a five-part adaptation of Parade's End, scripted by Sir Tom Stoppard. The series will star Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall, Rupert Everett and Miranda Richardson and is to be broadcast in 2012.
A new biography of WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS by Herbert Leibowitz (chapters of which featured in PN Review) has been published in the United States by Farrar, Straus & Giroux. This first life of Williams since Paul Mariani's in 1981 was welcomed in The New York Times in November as a 'cranky, unapologetically self-assertive, infidelity-obsessed, interesting and idiosyncratic book'. The title is a quote from Williams: 'Something Urgent I Have to Say to You': The Life and Works of William Carlos Williams. Leibowitz, editor and a co-founder of Parnassus: Poetry in Review, considers Williams's life and work thematically, in chapters on family origins, marriage and love affairs, his six months abroad and the writing of Paterson. 'Many biographies treat artistic creation as a kind of bloodless version of a Caesarian birth,' the New York Times review concludes, 'but Leibowitz is terrific at conveying the confusion, uncertainty and doggedness of the life of the artist intent on discoveries.'
Poet and essayist TOMÁS SEGOVIA died in Mexico City on 7 November; he was eighty-four. One of the last surviving Spanish poets whose exile began with the Civil War, he was born in Valencia, went into exile in France, then Morocco, and arrived in Mexico in his early teens. After Franco's death he returned for a time to live in Madrid, though Mexico remained his homeland. He was widely honoured, a reward for longevity and for the cumulative quality of his writing and its subtle eroticism. In 2000 he received the Octavio Paz Prize for Poetry and the Essay and in 2005 the Juan Rulfo Prize. In 2008 the Federico García Lorca International Poetry Prize was presented to him. He expressed surprise: 'I am the kind of writer who tends to get forgotten,' he said. 'I belong to no current, no country or party.' The Lorca judges called him a poet of the margins, to which he responded by declaring himself a man from every margin, every alienation. It pleased him to be described by one editor as a German poet, with his unusual clarities. He wrote poems in French as well as Spanish.
Palestinian writer TAHA MUHAMMAD ALI died in October. Born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriya, he fled to Lebanon during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. A year later he slipped back across the border with his family and settled in Nazareth, where he remained. The Saffuriya of his childhood served as the nexus of poetry and fiction focused on everyday experience. Self-taught, he began his writing career late (in 1983) but went on to publish several collections of poetry and stories. Ali wrote in a forceful, direct style, with disarming humour and honesty. The simplicity and homespun truths of his poems conceal subtleties of classical Arabic and colloquial forms of expression. In Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Europe, audiences were moved by the political complexity and humanity of his work. He was introduced to Western audiences through the efforts of the husband-and-wife team of Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman, Peter translating his poetry into English and helping to organise reading tours of the United States. A biography of Taha by Adina Hoffman, the first in English of a Palestinian poet, was published by Yale in 2009. A dual-language volume of Taha's poetry has been published by Bloodaxe and Copper Canyon.
The Hungarian-born French novelist AGOTA KRISTOF, a wonderful writer sadly little known in this country, has died. Born in Hungary in 1935, Kristof left her home country in 1956 after an anti-Soviet revolution was suppressed. She settled in Switzerland where she spent most of her life, but remained Hungarian in sensibility despite writing in French. Kristof wrote twenty-three books from 1978, though only nine were published; she stopped writing in 2005, after the release of her memoir, l'Analphabète. In the 1980s, she achieved success in Western Europe with Le Grand Cahier (The Big Notebook). Kristof's work, which often dealt with post-war topics, was translated into a dozen languages, including her mother tongue.
The eminent American poet RUTH STONE has died at her home in Virginia, aged 96. Gerry McGrath has sent us this appreciation:
Ruth Stone wrote all her life, describing her early forays as the attempt to capture, quite literally, the poems that rushed towards her across the countryside causing 'the ground to shake under her feet'. Often she would fail, but more often she did not and the fruit of those encounters can be seen in poems of disarming frankness that belie a deep seriousness and commitment to writing that remained with her to the end. Stone published thirteen books of poetry, the first of which, In an Iridescent Time, appeared in 1959, winning the Bess Hokin prize for poetry. She seemed destined for greater things. Shortly afterwards, her second husband committed suicide while on sabbatical in London. Stone wrote: 'Tied a silk cord around his meat neck / and hung his meat body, loved though it was / in order to ensure absolute quiet / on the back of a rented door in Soho.' Stone found herself widowed with three young children. The next twenty years were spent between the family home in Virginia and providing for her family by teaching in various universities across the US. She continued to write poetry in that trademark conversational style: wry lyricism containing elements of tenderness and a real sense of the tragi-comic. Her poetry flourished in later life, gathering the kind of critical acceptance and acclaim that she might have enjoyed earlier. Her collection What love comes to was a Pulitzer finalist in 2009. After much wandering in her middle years, Stone was appointed Professor of English at the University of New York at Binghampton and served from 2007 as state poet for Vermont. In a recent interview she recalled catching those first poems by the tail and spoke of her attempts to let them speak through her.It was the way I wrote, she said, last words first.
John Killick pays tribute to a friend of many decades:
ANNA ADAMS, who has died aged 85, was my friend for 35 years. She was an artist as well as a poet, and married to Norman, who became Keeper and later Professor of Painting at the Royal Academy. Anna's creative energies went largely into her poetry, and her writing life was framed by two long poems, A Reply to Intercepted Mail which was published by Peterloo in 1979, and another verse-letter which remains unpublished. Although unfashionable in both matter (she abhorred confessionalism) and manner (she described herself as a 'formalist rather than a free-verser') she was in fact well-published. Peterloo brought out four further collections, and at Littlewood I published two, the second of which, Island Chapters, is an account in prose, verse and paintings of the decade she and her family spent on the remote island of Scarp in the Outer Hebrides. There is another volume in the same vein, Life on Limestone, which chronicles the nearly four decades she and Norman maintained a house and studio in the Dales. Enitharmon produced a new and selected entitled Green Resistance in 1996, and she edited anthologies for them on London and the Thames.
Why Anna is in none of the anthologies remains a mystery. She was not a self-publicist, but the quality of her best work (such poems as 'Scarp Song', 'Analysis of the Silence', 'Tortoiseshells Overwintering', 'Wasp's Nest' and 'Self-Portrait') should have gained her a place. In their observational accuracy, metaphorical daring, wit and inspired versification they are outstanding. She kept up this standard to the last (in the pamphlet Time-Pockets that I published last year there is work the equal of the poems already mentioned). Helena Nelson says in her essay in The North 47, 'Anna Adams is not lost. She is here waiting to be found where she has always been, between the lines of her poems.' She will always be worth seeking out.
This item is taken from PN Review 203, Volume 38 Number 3, January - February 2012.