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This item is taken from PN Review 205, Volume 38 Number 5, May - June 2012.News & Notes
'And it grew both day and night, / Till it bore an apple bright': it's as if William Blake had foreseen the flourishing of PN Review into virtual form.PN Review is now available as an 'app'! It is the first poetry magazine to become available through Apple Newsstand. This development was thanks to Exact Editions, a digital publishing company which turns magazines into user-friendly digital editions for iPad, iPhone and Android mobile devices. On 26 March they issued this press release: 'We are delighted to announce that the wonderful PN Review is now available to subscribe to digitally and in Apple Newsstand. Since its launch in 1973, it has seen its fair share of cultural and economical shifts and has emerged as the word on poetry.' Daryl Rayner, Managing Director of Exact Editions, applauded the move as 'a striking development for poetry publishing; and the new iPad is the best digital format yet invented for reading poetry. With such a stunning platform to showcase magazines, it is not surprising that PN Review has taken the digital plunge. With a simple tap you can now instantly view the poems, take and send screenshots of your favourite poems, and sync issues for offline reading. You can even sample it for free, making it easier than ever to read on the move.' The PN Review app is available to download from iTunes.com, where you can purchase monthly and annual subscriptions for mobile devices.
In other, more alarming, news of digital developments, it has been reported (in the online journal Wired) that the social networking site Facebook is attempting to copyright the word 'book'. Facebook could expand its trademark rights over the word 'book' by adding it to a revised version of its 'Statement of Rights and Responsibilities', the agreement all users implicitly consent to in using Facebook. 'Facebook has launched multiple lawsuits against websites incorporating the word "book" into their names,' writes Jon Brodkin in Wired. 'Facebook, as far as we can tell, doesn't have a registered trademark on "book". But trademark rights can be asserted based on use of a term, even if the trademark isn't registered, and adding the claim to Facebook's user agreement could boost the company's standing in future lawsuits filed against sites that use the word.'
The American Academy of Arts has honoured three PNR writers for their contribution to literature, it was announced in March. MICHAEL PALMER and CHRISTOPHER MIDDLETON were recognised for lifetime achievements, and MICHAEL HOFMANN was awarded the Thornton Wilder Prize for Translation. The awards will be presented in New York in May at the Academy's annual ceremony. The literature prizes, totalling $160,000, honour both established and emerging writers of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. The Academy's 250 members nominate candidates, and a rotating panel of writers selects winners. This year's panel included among others Paul Auster, Louise Glück, Philip Levine and Alison Lurie.
The Communist Party of Chile has requested that the remains of the Chilean poet and diplomat PABLO NERUDA be exhumed after allegations that he may have been poisoned by the authorities, reports the BBC's Latin American service. The Nobel laureate died in Santiago in September 1973, twelve days after the military coup that brought General Pinochet to power. A Communist Party lawyer, Eduardo Contreras, says there are now doubts over Neruda's death. While his death certificate records the cause of death at the age of 69 as prostate cancer, the poet's former personal assistant and driver, Manuel Araya, alleges that he received a lethal injection of painkiller which caused a heart attack. The Pablo Neruda Foundation said in May that there was 'no proof whatsoever that suggests Pablo Neruda died of causes other than cancer'. The request for exhumation is being considered by a judge. Although Neruda is best known for his poetry, he was a lifelong member of Chile's Communist Party, a lawmaker and a former ambassador to France.
The poet and essayist ADRIENNE RICH has died in California at the age of 82. Rich, who was celebrated as much for deeply personal reflections on her own life as for her sometimes ferocious social commentary, made a profound difference to American poetry. Her legacy as an essayist and a space-clearer for the imagination will be durable, and her contrariness remains challenging and instructive.
Adrienne Rich was born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1929, the daughter of a Jewish pathologist father and a Gentile Southern mother. One of the poems in the new Selected Poems, 'At the Jewish New Year', states: 'Whatever we strain to forget / Our memory must be long.' Her background was never entirely sloughed. On the contrary, the tensions between male and female, between historic pride and vulnerable identity, have become charged centres of her work. In 1951 she graduated from Radcliffe College and within eight years she had received a Guggenheim Fellowship, had her first book selected by W.H. Auden for the Yale Younger Poets Award, published two volumes of poetry, married and given birth to three sons. Somewhere in the middle of all this we get a glimpse of her one rainy night in Massachusetts: a poignant eyewitness account. 'Short black hair, great sparking black eyes and a tulip-red umbrella: honest, frank, forthright and even opinionated.' Sylvia Plath's first impression of Adrienne Rich, recorded in this sentence in her journals: the year was 1958 and Adrienne Rich was twenty-nine.
Eavan Boland's brilliant tribute to Rich appeared in PN Review 114 (March-April 1997): 'When I first read the poems of Adrienne Rich I was in my early thirties. I was married with small children. I was far away from some of the claimed ground here and not yet sure of my own. These are, after all, American poems, written from the heart of the American empire as the century darkens. They are fiercely questioning, deeply political, continuously subversive. They celebrate the lives of women and the sexual and comradely love between them. They contest the structure of the poetic tradition. They interrogate language itself. In all of this, they describe a struggle and record a moment which was not my struggle and would never be my moment. Nor my country, nor my companionship. Nor even my aesthetic. And yet these poems came to the very edge of the rooms I worked in, dreamed in, listened for a child's cry in. [...] I like to think that women poets, from generation to generation, will befriend one another. In that sense I have had Adrienne Rich's friendship. And I could not have done without it.'
Daryl Hine remembers Jay Macpherson: The Canadian poet JAY MACPHERSON (1931-2012) has died. Born in the UK, she taught for many years at the University of Toronto. In addition to a handful of gnomic verses collected in two volumes, The Boatman (1954) and Welcoming Disaster (1974), she wrote a children's introduction to classical mythology, The Four Ages of Man (1962), as well as important works on Gothic literature. The chief personal influences on her life and thought were three: Hans Jonas, the German philosopher for whom she worked in her teens as a research assistant; Robert Graves, who published her first pamphlet of verse at his Seizin Press (1951); and Northrop Frye, with whom she studied at Toronto. At once kind and tart, she repudiated such little reputation as her works elicited. Almost savagely modest, she devoted her later years to looking after others, beginning with her parents, her father, a brother of Cluny Macpherson, and her mother, a member of the 1917 Club who came to work for the National Film Board of Canada. Jay herself was evacuated to Newfoundland during the War. In her youth she wrote some poems of signal originality, such as this riddle:
If I am that bird, then I am one alone.
Ashes and bone of a dead life I save
And bear about with me to find a grave,
Token that my renewed and lively breath
Is kindled from a still-repeated death...
I feed on the dew of heaven and live without desire.
Reader, consider a life in the fire.
(Answer on p. 14).
St John's College, Cambridge, invites applications for its Harper-Wood Studentship for English Poetry and Literature. The purpose of the Studentship is to encourage a project of creative writing (original fiction, poetry or drama) by making it possible for the holder to engage in relevant, project-related travel and study. It is designed to encourage writers in the earlier stage of their careers, though more experienced authors will be considered. The successful applicant will become a member of the college for one academic year, starting on 1 October 2012; he or she will receive a stipend and engage with students. Writers to have held the Studentship previously include poet and translator Michael Hofmann, novelist Giles Foden and the Telegraph'sliterary editor, Gaby Wood. Further information and details of how to apply at www.joh.cam.ac.uk. The closing date for applications is 9 May 2012.
In Ireland, two attics filled with particular literary riches have been cleared, to the benefit of Dublin libraries and poetry scholars. The literary papers of poets SEAMUS HEANEY and AUSTIN CLARKE have been donated to the National Library of Ireland and the Poetry Ireland Library (part of University College Dublin's Special Collections) respectively.
A few months ago, Heaney drove into the car park of the National Library of Ireland laden with cardboard boxes full of notebooks, manuscripts, drafts, proofs and rewrites of his life's work, the Irish Times reported. Fiona Ross, the Director of the National Library, said of Heaney's gift: 'We look forward to making this collection available to scholars and researchers from all over the world.' The archive is a treasure trove for readers of Ireland's celebrated poet; yet Heaney didn't see it like that, joking that his house was finally free of fifty years' worth of clutter: 'It's a happiness to feel no regrets at the removal of the stuff from the house, but to feel a cause for gratitude and pride', the seventy-two-year-old Nobel laureate said.
At UCD, staff at the Poetry Ireland Library were celebrating the donation of more than 5,000 volumes which made up Austin Clarke's book collection, amassed through his sixty-year career as a literary reviewer. The catalogue and some of the archival material can be accessed online via the website of the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archive. Poet, dramatist and broadcaster Austin Clarke (1896-1974) was an important figure in Irish cultural life. His Collected Poems were published by Carcanet in 2008, edited by his son.
The Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet WISŁAWA SZYMBORSKA has died. An obituary will appear in the next issue of PNR.
One of the great British experimental novelists, CHRISTINE BROOKE-ROSE, also a critic and a leading interpreter of Modernism, died on 21 March 2012. She was educated at Somerville College, Oxford and University College, London. She taught at the University of Paris, Vincennes, from 1968 to 1988, before retiring to the south of France where she spent the rest of her life in relative isolation.
Brooke-Rose contributed major articles and interviews to PN Review between 1986 and 1997. Her memoir-novel Remake (1996) takes the reader through her eventful life. It is an autobiographical novel with a difference, using life material to compose a third-person fiction, transformed in an experiment whose tensions are those of memory - distorting and partial - checked by a rigorous and sceptical language which probes and finds durable forms underlying the impulses and passions of the subject. It is not a simple process of chronological remembering.Remake captures not facts but the contents of those facts, the feelings of a war-time child, the textures of her clothing, tastes and smells, her mother, an absent father, a gradual transformation into adulthood. The facts are simple enough: birth in Geneva; a bilingual childhood in Brussels, then London and Liverpool; work in Intelligence at the Bletchley Park decoding centre during the war; marriage; Oxford; London; literary journalism; the emergence of the novelist.
In her last novel, Life, End Of (2006), she wrote close to life - and death. She is eighty. At the centre of Life, End of, in a mock-technical lecture from the Character to the Author, she accepts that her experiments in narrative are like life: the narrative creates itself. There is here, as in her earlier writing, a darkly comical imagination exploring the meanings and non-meanings to which, in the end, life and art lead us.
Some obituarists bemoaned Brooke-Rose's 'neglect' by the literary establishment, the Guardian reporting her death under the headline 'Christine Brooke-Rose: the great British experimentalist you've never heard of'. That perceived neglect was in critical rather than publishing terms: her work is kept in print by Carcanet, who published her for three decades. In PNR 171 Michael Freeman, her one-time editor at Carcanet, addressed a verse letter to her, dated February 2006, a proleptic obituary, she said.
This item is taken from PN Review 205, Volume 38 Number 5, May - June 2012.