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Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This item is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.

News & Notes Compiled by Eleanor Crawforth

DON SHARE has been named the new Editor of Poetry magazine. Share will begin his tenure in July, the twelfth editor in the magazine's 101-year history, following the departure of Christian Wiman. Currently senior editor of the magazine, Share has 25 years of experience in poetry and publishing, including editorial stints at Partisan Review and Harvard Review. 'It is a great honor, and a greater responsibility, to continue the work of such marvellous editors as Harriet Monroe, Henry Rago, and Christian Wiman, who are my heroes and my inspiration,' said Share.


JUDITH WILKINSON, translator of Toon Tellegen and other Dutch poets, has been awarded the Brockway Prize. The 5,000 euro prize was presented at the Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam on 14 June. Wilkinson is recognised for her work translating Tellegen's books into English, including Raafvogels (2011), published as Raptors by Carcanet and winner of the Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation, and A Man and an Angel, published this year by Shoestring Press. Judges included Sasha Dugdale, the new editor of Modern Poetry in Translation, and Peter Bergsma, Director of Vertalershuis Amsterdam. They praised Wilkinson's translations for their 'subtle and skilful craftsmanship'.


Independent publisher Salt has announced that it will cease publishing single-author poetry collections amid 'a slump in the market'. Salt director Chris Hamilton-Emery said: 'It's simply not viable to continue doing them unfunded... We have tried to commit to single-author collections by funding them ourselves, but as they have become increasingly unprofitable, we can't sustain it.' Official figures from Nielsen BookScan show a sharp decline in the overall poetry market in the last year, following small declines in 2010 and 2011. Salt has produced more than 400 poetry collections, many debuts among them; its authors include Charles Bernstein, John Kinsella and Luke Kennard. In future it will focus on poetry anthologies, non-fiction and fiction.


Anne Stokes remembers Sarah Kirsch (16 April 1935-5 May 2013): The publishing house Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt in Munich has announced the death of German poet Sarah Kirsch at the age of 78, following a short bout of serious illness. She died in her adopted homeland, Schleswig-Holstein, to which she retreated in 1983, and which formed the backdrop to much of her later work. Kirsch's life and writing career began, however, in the former East Germany. Born Ingrid Hella Irmelinde Bernstein in 1935 in Southern Saxony, an area which became part of the German Democratic Republic in 1949, she took the name Kirsch when she married East German poet Rainer Kirsch in 1960. In the same year, she adopted the name Sarah in commemoration of Jewish victims of the Holocaust, thereby distancing herself from Fascism, and, more generally, highlighting the fact that anti-Semitism was a feature not only of West but also of East Germany's past. A free spirit, often at the centre of controversy because of the criticism of state policy implicit in much of her writing, Kirsch felt compelled to leave East Germany in 1977 due to persecution experienced after she signed a petition against the expulsion of the non-conformist singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann. Shortly after arriving in the West, Kirsch wrote about the remnants of her socialist dream in her poem 'Kite-flying': 'Ours was what's left of the string / and having known you.' After the passing of Kirsch herself, we are fortunate still to have her writing. Between 1967 and 2012, she produced ten volumes of poetry for which she received numerous prizes, including the Petrarch Prize (1976), the (West) German Critics' Prize (1981) and the prestigious Georg Büchner Prize (1996) awarded by the German Academy for Language and Literature. Although known mainly for her poetry, she also wrote prose, which she regarded as an extension of her poetic work, and she painted in watercolours, as a diversion from both.

Over the past three years, I have been submerged in Kirsch's poetry, preparing an English selection from her ten volumes, titled Ice Roses. The volume, which will be published later this year by Carcanet, highlights the main themes of her work - the vicissitudes of love; life in Germany, East and West, past and present; and, most recently, humanity's relationship with nature - and attempts to capture her unique style, from the emotionally charged, cascading lines of much of her poetry to the sparse, meditative verse of her last two volumes. It will now be dedicated to the memory of Sarah Kirsch, and, along with the work of previous translators, it is my hope that it will bring her poetry to the larger English-speaking audience it deserves.


P.J. Kavanagh remembers Peter Kane Dufault (1923-2013): In the US Air Force at a very young age ('More'n fifty missions - Liberators, outa Italy', was all he would growl about that), soccer player (latterly reduced to referee), banjo-player (in his own band), journalist, teacher of History, Democrat candidate for Congress (anti-Vietnam, to the hostility of some country neighbours) - the poet Peter Kane Dufault died on 20 April, a day before his ninetieth birthday. Poetically a son of Robert Frost, he was not his imitator. He could pluck the universal out of the particular with a terse assurance of his own.

Take a walnut: A brain's in there -
hemisphere, fissure, fold.
Knows how to make a tree
given half a toe-hold...

A speculative realist, he is a nature poet for grown-ups. On a mastodon in a child's picture book, the 'eight-ton tread'

utterly felled... Sometimes it makes
the imagination freeze,
my dears, how unsentimental
God really is.

His meditations range from the habits of insects to the idiocies of politics. As a 'reader' he was electrifying because he did not read at all: in his deep baritone he seemed to pluck a sequence of words out of the air. Audiences held their collective breath as if for the Daring Old Man on the Flying Trapeze - surely he'd disremember, stumble, fall off the tightrope, the spell broken? It never was, the wire was too well wrought, the step so sure. Unfashionable in the urbanised, streetwise America of the 1960s and 70s, of recent years more of his work has found its way into influential anthologies. Admired by Ted Hughes, he has been well published in England ( Looking In All Directions, Worple, 2000). He died peacefully at his home in upstate New York, after a short illness.


Selina Guinness remembers the New Zealand poet Sarah Broom, who died in Auckland on 18 April 2013: When I first met Sarah Broom in Oxford in 1995, I did not expect the friendship of this reserved, analytical New Zealand girl to mark me for life. She had come straight from Leeds University with an MA in Irish Literature to begin doctoral work on contemporary British and Irish poetry with Bernard O'Donoghue. These interests qualified her to join the Women and Ireland Group, an association of graduate students united by an irreverent feminism and lively approach to academic debate about Irish interests. Gradually Sarah persuaded us out-of-doors and into the parks and whatever reserve there had been disappeared, racquet in hand. In 2000, Sarah returned to her home-town with her husband to take up a lectureship at Dunedin's Otago University. She moved to Massey University, Auckland and there completed a monograph, Contemporary British and Irish Poetry: An Introduction (Palgrave, 2006). Her choice of poets was typically adventurous and independent; from New Zealand she tracked the nuances of contemporary poetic debate in these islands with an attention and objectivity few could match. She later gave up her lectureship, and, with her two small sons to raise, devoted what time she had to writing poetry. In late 2007, pregnant with her third child, she wrote saying she thought her debut collection was nearly ready to send out (it went on to become Tigers at Awhitu, published in 2010 by Auckland University Press and Carcanet, in its OxfordPoets series).

Then, in February 2008 when Sarah was in the twenty-eighth week of pregnancy, she was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. Her daughter, Amelia, was delivered safely and Sarah - a fit non-smoker - was given, at 35, barely months to live. The poems in the second half of her book, written following her diagnosis, astonished me. They inhabit landscapes where the central figures are tracked, penetrated and kept alive by the ceaseless drive of an unmythical nature. While it takes courage and great intellectual clarity to occupy this space poetically, over the last five years Sarah accomplished something braver. She gave up her body to medical research, persuading oncologists and pharmaceutical companies to accept her onto drug trials that would see her travelling from Auckland to Melbourne and Boston for treatment at regular, and exhausting, intervals. And through it all, she fought to preserve that essential part of her, what W.N. Herbert identified in his laudatory review as 'the fragile sanctuary of the imagination' ( Poetry London).

Last Christmas, Sarah sent me Gleam. It is a collection written in extremis, and contains some of the most beautiful and startling poems about dying I have ever read. Sarah Broom died in April 2013, five years after her initial diagnosis. Gleam will be published by Auckland University Press in July 2013.

Clémence O'Connor remembers Heather Dohollau: The Welsh poet Heather Dohollau died in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany on 30 April 2013. She spent her adult life in France and published twelve volumes of poetry, one novel inspired by the philosopher Jules Lequier, and one collection of essays (chiefly on Rilke) with Éditions Folle Avoine, all in French, which she adopted as her writing language in the mid-1960s and called her 'daughter tongue'.

Heather Dohollau was born in 1925 in the Rhondda Valley and raised in Penarth - places which kept an enduring hold over her imagination. She left for France after losing her mother just after the war, and, following some years in Paris and London, settled in Brittany on the island of Bréhat. There she led an insular, then semi-insular life for almost twenty years, running an art shop and raising seven children in precarious circumstances; yet the island was also a second origin where, for the first time since her mother's death, she was able to write again. Bréhat is now her resting place. Through the 1970s and 1980s she worked as a librarian in Saint-Brieuc and became increasingly involved in literary circles, particularly when her annual attendance at the colloquiums of Cerisy-la-Salle began in the 1980s (a colloquium about her own work took place there in 2005). Pierre-Jean Jouve, Jacques Derrida and Lorand Gaspar, who awarded her the Légion d'honneur in 2000, have been among her friends and correspondents. Informed by her successive exiles (from Britain and Bréhat) and losses (her mother and one of her daughters), Dohollau's work interweaves returns to Wales, Brittany, Italy, but also to the painted countries charted by Bonnard, Morandi, Giorgione and Piero della Francesca. Like Beckett, she showed how the foil of another language (but also of another, visual art form) can contribute to poetry's quest as it strives towards, in her own words, 'une langue inconnue' - 'an unknown language'.

This item is taken from PN Review 212, Volume 39 Number 6, July - August 2013.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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