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This item is taken from PN Review 114, Volume 23 Number 4, March - April 1997.

News & Notes
The German Booksellers' Award, the Peace Prize given each year at the Frankfurt Book Fair, was presented in 1996 to Peruvian MARIO VARGAS LLOSA. Other Latin American writers thus honoured include Octavio Paz, Jorge Semprún and Ernesto Cardenal. English language writers have not fared so well.

The 1996 Whitbread Prize was awarded to SEAMUS HEANEY.

The poet RICHARD WILBUR is a 1996 recipient of Ingersoll prizes, the T.S. Eliot Award for Creative Writing. It is fifty years since Wilbur's acclaimed first book, The Beautiful Changes, appeared; since then he has received two Pulitzer Prizes and many other awards including the Prix de Rome. His translations of classic French drama and his work with Leonard Bernstein on Candide are among his most notable achievements.

In the United States the National Endowment for the Arts continues to spark controversy. On election day a Federal Appeals Court judged that it was unconstitutional for government to require the NEA to apply 'general standards of decency and respect' in appraising applications: 'even when the government is funding speech it may not distinguish between speakers on the basis of the speaker's viewpoint or otherwise aim at the suppression of dangerous ideas'. Congruence between civic and aesthetic criteria is suggested by the judgment: when arts funding becomes a province of the courts, everyone will be able to demand support and sue for money if not for audience.

The Arts Council received a standstill grant in the Budget. A cut of £3.2 million had been projected. The Council prevailed with Mrs Bottomley and £186. 1m will be available, with the additional funds from the Lottery which the Arts Council administer in the Arts for Everyone programme.

DR ALASTAIR NIVEN, for nine years Literature Director of the Arts Council of Great Britain and latterly the Arts Council of England, is to be Head of Literature at the British Council. During his time at the Arts Council Dr Niven pressed successfully for an increased literature budget, worked to develop links with other English literatures and to break down some of the divisions within the literatures of these islands. His act will be a hard one to follow, but his new appointment bodes well for British Council programmes here and abroad.

Writers with an interest in the East are invited to apply for the newly created £25,000 a year Wong Fellowship at the University of East Anglia. Hong Kong businessman, journalist, civil servant and late-flowering writer David Wong, whose own stories have enjoyed some success in recent months in the UK, wants a young writer to benefit at the outset of his or her career as he wishes he might have done. The fellowship will enable the chosen individual to produce a work of fiction in English set in the Far East. The fellowship is not confined to British writers. Details and applications forms are available from the David T.K. Wong Fellowship, School of English and American Studies, University of East Anglia, Norwich NR4 7TJ.

A press release announces: 'Two females to lead TU CHWITH into the new millennium'. The 'controversial Welsh language journal' will be co-edited by Sioned Puw Rowlands and Angharad Price. Ambitious plans are announced, and the transition issues will feature feminist themes. Welsh- and English-speaking cultures will be represented. The magazine is available from 5, Tan y Ffordd, Bethel, Caernarfon, Gwynedd LL55 1UY.

index on Censorship is in its 25th year. A unique quarterly, Index has served in a period of transition and change to alert readers to the acts of repression abroad and at home. It has maintained, in its various phases, a rare impartiality. Its anniversary will be marked by three anthologies, festival events and the first Stephen Spender memorial readings in the UK and in the United States.

In its first issue of 1997 Index reports the use of poetry in the Belorussian November referendum. Voters were handed a pre-marked specimen voting slip with the verse: 'If you want order in our Republic / If you don't want trouble and row / Then at one, two, seven, cross out Against / And elsewhere cross out For - that's how!'

On 12 July 1904 Neftali Eliecer Ricardo Reyes was born in Parral, southern Chile. Some years later he became Pablo Neruda. His father, a farmer and then a railway worker widowed weeks after the boy's birth, took him to Temuco, then a hamlet in the huge forests of Arauco, where the rain endlessly falls. This rich, remote now largely vanished world is where he spent his childhood and, legend says, wrote his early poems which he transcribed into school notebooks. Neruda was ambivalent about this early work, giving the notebooks to a sister who handed them to another relative. After Neruda's death they were sold to a dealer in Santiago and turned up at auction at Sothebys. They have not been seen since. But in Temuco, by accident, one of his early notebooks has been found. It reveals a pre-anguished, pre-existentialist Neruda, young and affirmative as he was to become again in the Odas Elementales. If the remaining work from 1919-1920 can be located and edited, it will complete the record of one of Latin America's most powerful and complex poets. (Humboldt)

Michael Thorp writes that with the CLOUDFORMS series (1-13) and markings series (1-15), both now complete, Cloud ceases publication but will continue to trade while stocks last. Though this handsome list is winding down, the publications are durable, including editions of the poems of Clere Parsons and work by Charles Tomlinson, Elizabeth Smither, George Messo and others. Catalogues are available from Cloud, 48 Biddlestone Road, Heaton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne NE6 5SL.

This item is taken from PN Review 114, Volume 23 Number 4, March - April 1997.

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