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This item is taken from PN Review 211, Volume 39 Number 5, May - June 2013.News & Notes
D.H. LAWRENCE was no stranger to censorship: Lady Chatterley's Lover was officially banned in Britain until 1960. Yet the censor's pen was also busy with his poetry (which he wrote from 1905 until his death in 1930). A new two-volume edition of his poems, many previously rendered unreadable by deletions, reveals him as a controversial war poet whose work attacking British imperialism during the First World War was barred from publication. Cambridge University Press publish the first critical edition of Lawrence's poetry on 28 March 2013, completing their mammoth 40-volume programme of his Letters and Works. Some 860 poems appear, including All of Us, a sequence of 31 poems never published in full before, which reveals his preoccupation with the Allies' campaigns. Deleted passages here and elsewhere have been restored and hundreds of punctuation errors corrected. The volume's editor, Christopher Pollnitz, told the Observer (24 March 2013) that it 'radically shifts our understanding of Lawrence's significance as a poet'. Pollnitz noted that it is widely assumed that only the novels suffered censorship, 'but it goes all through the poetry as well'.
MAURICE RIORDAN will take on the editorship of Poetry Review this summer, following Fiona Sampson's resignation last year. The award-winning Irish poet will begin his role as editor of the quarterly magazine with the September issue of Poetry Review. His tenure follows a series of recent guest editorships including George Szirtes, Charles Boyle, Bernadine Evaristo, a team comprising Moniza Alvi and Esther Morgan, and Patrick McGuinness. Riordan, Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University, said he was keen to 're-establish links with what's happening in poetry elsewhere, initially in North America', as well as to 'plug in' to the 'creative energy in the air, alongside the vast new reach of our science and technologies'. Sampson has launched a new international magazine, Poem, with the aim of publishing 'the very best poetry either written in, or translated into, English'. The first issue includes poetry by Sean O'Brien, Michael Symmons Roberts and Robin Robertson, an interview with Paul Muldoon and an extract from Elaine Feinstein's memoir.
Babushka Pushkina, a new Russian poetry show broadcast on YouTube, aims to revive contemporary Russian poetry. Featuring young poets aged 18 to 25, the show follows the format of a television competition, in which teams represent Moscow and St Petersburg and compete in rounds. They are tasked with writing poems on set topics. Contestants who fail in the popular vote leave the show. Evgeny Lebedev, director of LeCo Media which produces the show, told The Moscow Times: 'Our aim is to popularise young poetry. Most readers do not know anything about modern poets! We want to enhance this audience. Fifty per cent of the people who watch our show were not interested in poetry before.' The show takes its name from Alexander Pushkin's nanny, Arina Rodionovna. Its organisers, who promote it via social networking channels, plan to expand the project into a larger Russian Poetry Festival this summer.
The Scottish Poetry Library (SPL) is raising funds to publish an anthology of poems to give to every doctor graduating in Scotland. Lesley Morrison, a GP in the Borders, conceived the idea of creating a pocket book containing poems which, Morrison says, will 'acknowledge some of the difficulties' of patient care and 'nourish the doctors' humanity and remind them that they are not alone in their experience'. The project is in memory of Morrison's friend and colleague Pat Manson, a GP who cared about the training of young doctors. The SPL seeks donations to cover £7,000 costs (copyright permissions, design, printing, etc). Donations can be made via PayPal at www.justgiving.com/Scottish-Poetry-Library-Poetry-for-New-Doctors or by sending a cheque payable to Scottish Poetry Library to: Scottish Poetry Library: Poetry for New Doctors, 5 Crichton's Close, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DT.
MARIE PONSOT, a poet known for her bold reimaginings of traditional forms, has been awarded the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, one of the most lucrative in American poetry. 91-year-old Ponsot joins John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Adrienne Rich and others on the list of winners of the $100,000 prize, founded in 1986 to honour lifetime achievements in poetry. Her work includes the collections Easy, Springing and The Bird Catcher (winner of the 1998 National Book Critics Circle Award), as well as translations of more than thirty books from French. Poetry magazine publish eleven of her poems in the May issue.
The American poet ROBERT BLY is to be awarded the Frost Medal for a 'distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry' by the Poetry Society of America. Bly is known for introducing American readers to 'the riches of European and Latin American poetry' through his translations, the Society stated, and for his own collections. He was an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War.
The Caine Prize for African Writing held its annual workshop in Uganda in April. Twelve writers from seven different African countries convened at the Garuga Resort Beach Hotel for nine days to write, read, discuss work in progress and to learn from two experienced writers, Véronique Tadjo and Pam Nichols. Participants included last year's winners, Rotimi Babatunde (Nigeria), Billy Kahora (Kenya) and Melissa Myambo (Zimbabwe), as well as Harriet Anena, Davina Kawuma, Lillian Aujo and Hellen Nyana from Uganda. During the workshops, writers were asked to write a short story for inclusion in the 2013 Caine Prize anthology, to be published by New Internationalist on 1 July and then by seven co-publishers in Africa. The programme also saw the launch of the prize's 2012 anthology, published by the Uganda Women Writers' Association FEMRITE.
Events will be taking place throughout the UK between March 2013 and March 2014 to mark the centenary of R.S. THOMAS. Born in 1913, the Welsh poet and Anglican priest was a controversial and at times contradictory figure. To celebrate his life and sixty-year poetic career, organisations and individuals across Wales and beyond are sponsoring a series of events, new books and other projects. Literature Wales CEO Lleucu Siencyn said: 'R.S. Thomas is not only one of the most significant and unique voices of Welsh literature, he is many different people's favourite poet. Attracting significant international attention from as far away as Korea, Japan and the USA, he unites critics and readers from a diverse range of backgrounds. I am delighted that Wales and the wider world are marking R.S. Thomas as one of Wales' best exports.' Visit www.rsthomas2013.org for a full programme of centenary activities.
Poetry Ireland reported the tragic death of poet, author and scholar ROBERT WELCH in February. Welch read occasionally for Poetry Ireland and was a contributor to Poetry Ireland Review, a well-known critic, and editor of The Oxford Companion to Irish Literature. Welch published widely; his fifth collection of poetry appeared in 2010 and a short story collection is forthcoming. In late 2012 he published Kicking the Black Mamba: Life, Alcohol and Death, a memoir of his son Egan who drowned in 2007.
DARDIS CLARKE, the Irish journalist, author, editor, and former chairman of Poetry Ireland, has died. A humanist memorial service for him was held on 4 March 2013. Affectionately remembered by Hilary Fannin in the Irish Times (8 March) as 'a small man with a gigantic embrace', Clarke was seen as 'one of the last of the Dublin literary gents' (Beccy Fitzpatrick). His father Austin Clarke was one of the great Irish poets of the twentieth century. The youngest of the poet's three sons, Dardis edited his father's Collected Poems for Carcanet in 2008. He was known for his loyalty and geniality, his informed love of literature, and his impressive whiskers (he claimed never to have shaved in his entire life). A regular at poetry readings, he always carried a novel in his pocket, wrapped in brown paper to discourage casual literary conversation. In a nod to the black hat and black suit he usually wore, his funeral cortège was pulled by black horses with black plumes. Hilary Fannin noted that the horses 'should have worn wide-brimmed leather hats, too'.
JENY CURNOW, widow of the New Zealand poet Allen Curnow, has died at the age of 81. Though she regarded her marriage to Allen Curnow (whom she married in 1965) as the most important part of her life, she was a remarkable literary figure in her own right, and as a friend of James K. Baxter, C.K. Stead and many others, she was central to New Zealand poetic circles. Jeny Curnow was a distinguished scholar of Maori, having embarked on the study of the language at the age of 44 after a career as a schoolteacher. Her scholarship brought proper recognition to the great Maori scholar and historian Wiremu Maihi Te Rangikaheke, and she published an inventory of manuscripts about Maori life and culture for the Auckland Museum and a bibliography on the history and traditions of Tai Tokerau. In recognition of her academic interests, her funeral included a Maori karanga led by a respected Maori elder from Northland's Ngapuhi tribe, Dame Meri Meri Penfold.
Dennis O'Driscoll: A Correction
Peter Jay has written to point out the following error, for which we apologise:
The note about Dennis O'Driscoll (News & Notes, PNR 210) credits him with a last book which is in fact by his wife, Julie O'Callaghan: Tell Me This Is Normal: New & Selected Poems (Bloodaxe). Dennis's last book of poems was Dear Life, published in the summer of 2012 by Anvil. Readers may like to know that there are two posthumous works scheduled for publication late in 2013: a collection of essays, The Outnumbered Poet (Gallery Press), and A Michael Hamburger Reader (Anvil).
This item is taken from PN Review 211, Volume 39 Number 5, May - June 2013.