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This item is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.News & Notes
Palestinian poet GHASSAN ZAQTAN won the International Griffin Poetry Prize in June for Like A Straw Bird It Follows Me (Yale University Press). Described by judges as poetry which 'reminds us why we live and how, in the midst of war, despair and global changes', it was translated from the Arabic by the Palestinian-American poet FADY JOUDAH. The annual C$65,000 (£41,000) award recognises new poetry translated into, or written in, English. The Palestinian author was almost prevented from attending the awards ceremony due to his being denied a visa, but a social media campaign led by Joudah and PEN Canada's President and Griffin Trustee Margaret Atwood succeeded in overturning the decision. The award for Canadian poetry went to DAVID W. MCFADDEN for his collection What's the Score (Mansfield Press).
Performance poet RHIAN EDWARDS won the Wales Book of the Year 2013 in July for her debut poetry collection, Clueless Dogs. She beat Deryn Rees-Jones and Samantha Wynne Rhydderch to win the English-language poetry category, also known as the Roland Mathias Poetry Prize, before going on to win the £6,000 overall award. The book also won the People's Prize, voted for by readers of the Western Mail and WalesOnline. HEINI GRUFFUDD was overall winner of the Welsh-language shortlist for Yr Erlid, a tale of his German-born mother's life during the Second World War. Organised by Literature Wales and chaired by Head Judge Ffion Hague, the awards celebrate the best writing from Wales in English and Welsh.
Newcastle University has acquired the archive of Bloodaxe Books, three and a half decades after the poetry press was born out of an admin office on the university campus. The collection will include correspondence and manuscripts by Bloodaxe authors including Simon Armitage, Helen Dunmore, Tony Harrison, Benjamin Zephaniah, Mahmoud Darwish, Jackie Kay, Newcastle University's own W.N. Herbert, and Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer. It will continue to grow each year and, when catalogued, will be housed in the university's Robinson Library. 'It has been thirty-five years since Bloodaxe started, so it seemed like the right time to start thinking about what to do with the archive,' said Bloodaxe founding editor Neil Astley, a former student at the university. 'Newcastle University was the obvious place to look after the archive as it means it has come full circle.' Professor Linda Anderson, Director of the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts (NCLA) which acquired the archive, commented: 'The archive really adds to the University's growing collection of contemporary literature and will prove an inspiration for our students for many years to come.' Poets and recent Newcastle University postgraduates Anna Woodford and Tara Bergin were tasked with exploring the archive. To document their findings, Woodford and Bergin (whose debut collection This is Yarrow was recently published by Carcanet) have collaborated with artist and filmmaker Kate Sweeney to produce a short film, Proof. It includes the pair's poetic responses to the archive, as well as interviews with Neil Astley, Simon Armitage, Paul Batchelor, Anne Stevenson and others.
Poet JACOB POLLEY has been awarded the 2012 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for his collection The Havocs (Picador). The Carlisle-born poet was praised by judges Jean Sprackland, Sarah Crown and Maurice Riordan for his 'remarkably strong and consistent lyrical voice'. The University of St Andrews lecturer has published two previous collections with Picador, The Brink and Little Gods, as well as a novel, Talk of the Town, winner of the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. The Geoffrey Faber Prize is an annual £1,000 award given in alternate years to a volume of poetry and a work of fiction. Previous winners include J.M. Coetzee, Will Self, Geoffrey Hill, Alice Oswald and David Mitchell.
A celebration of the poet FRANCES HOROVITZ will be held on Saturday 5 October at St John the Baptist church in the Herefordshire village of Orcop. Poets, writers and performers will gather to mark the thirtieth anniversary of the death of Horovitz, who is buried in the churchyard there. Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, will be joined by the poet and writer David Constantine, recent winner of the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, the ceramic artist and writer Edmund de Waal, whose account of his family's extraordinary history, The Hare with Amber Eyes, became a bestseller, and Glenn Storhaug, the poet and founder of the Five Seasons Press. Frances' son Adam Horovitz will read with his father Michael Horovitz, the poet and founder of New Departures and the Poetry Olympics. Frances' Collected Poems was edited by her second husband, the poet and writer Roger Garfitt; Garfitt will perform her work with Sue Harris on the hammered dulcimer. The celebration will begin at 3pm and tickets will be £10 at the door. All proceeds will go to the church and tea and cakes will be provided by the parishioners.
A celebration marking the centenary of GEORGE BARKER'S birth will take place at the Catto Gallery in Hampstead from 6.30 to 8.30 pm on Tuesday 17 September 2013. Hosted by the poet's widow, Elspeth Barker, and Greville Press publisher Anthony Astbury, the evening will feature readings from his works by his friends and fellow poets. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org. Telephone 0207 435 6660 or contact the Catto Gallery, 100 Heath Street, London NW3 1DP for more information.
OLIVER BERNARD (1925-2013), poet and translator of Rimbaud and Apollinaire, has died in Norfolk at the age of 88. He led an extraordinarily rich life, as his obituaries attest: he was variously a Communist book-packer, RAF pilot, gasworks fireman, tramlines repairer, kitchen porter, male prostitute, prize-winning advertising copy writer, drama teacher, CND campaigner, prisoner, patient on the analyst's couch and convert to Roman Catholicism. Born to an upper-middle-class artistic family who moved between the home counties, Chelsea and Kensington, Bernard was later to find his true home across town; his memoir Getting Over It (1962) evokes the bohemian world of old Soho. After the war (a committed Communist, Bernard saw no military action), he began to translate French poetry in Paris. Having published a book of his own poems, Country Matters, in 1961, Bernard went on to translate Rimbaud, Apollinaire and other French writers; his edition of Rimbaud's Collected Poems (1962) remains a classic. His first wife Veronica (Wendy) Humble was the niece of the poet George Barker, one of his great friends. Barker's widow Elspeth recalls how, three weeks before his death, Bernard electrified the audience at the Wells-next-the-Sea poetry festival with a talk and passionate reading in honour of Barker's centenary. Peter Jay of Anvil Press, Oliver's long-time publisher, described Bernard as 'delightful, witty, intelligent company and a superb raconteur. As publisher of a book of his poems, two editions of his translations of Apollinaire and, most recently, the major overhaul of his Rimbaud edition, he was the easiest of authors to work with - completely undemanding, lacking all pretension, always concerned to get things right, though without a trace of pedantry.'
The exiled Cuban poet JOSÉ KOZER has won the Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize, reports the NBC Latino website. The $60,000 prize was presented to him by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera on 12 July, Neruda's birthday. Established in 2004 to mark the Nobel Prize-winning poet's centenary, the award honours lifetime contribution to poetry. The jury said that Kozer's 'vast and distinctive work stands out for its innovation, passion and devotion to the craft', and praised his multi-layered poems as an expression of the intricacies of memory and the transforming experience of exile. For the past four decades he has written one poem a day, amounting to over 9,000. 'Once I reach the 10,000 I'll start writing one single poem that will end with my own end,' said Kozer.
Anthony Rudolf recalls Yves Bonnefoy's ninetieth birthday: On 24 June 2013, Yves Bonnefoy celebrated his ninetieth birthday, amidst those of his many friends who were able to get to Paris from around the world. The weather was perfect. A violinist serenaded Yves, who was on excellent form and murmured to me a line from Yeats (whom he has translated so marvellously) that flattered all present: 'and say my glory was I had such friends'. Several of those present told the story, as I have (in PNR 176), of their first meeting with Bonnefoy and how it left its mark forever: one such was the poet and France Culture maestro Alain Veinstein, who met Bonnefoy the same year I did (1964). It is always the same story: how Bonnefoy, older, famous, prodigiously learned, authoritative, yet level-headed, good-humoured and modest, wants, seeks out, dialogue: a mentor yes, but not a guru, a man who learns as well as teaches, an existential role model even for those whose own writing does not necessarily bear the imprint of direct influence. Painters, publishers (Gallimard co-hosted the party), editors, scholars, poets, were among the guests, alongside some of Bonnefoy's many translators including Stephen Romer (we discussed a possible Bonnefoy Reader for Carcanet), Hoyt Rogers and John Taylor. The artists Jean Leyris, Claude Garache and Dominique Gutherz (the latter newly retired from directing the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Nîmes) were present, as were distinguished editors of Mallarmé, Rimbaud and Proust, Bertrand Marchal, Alain Borer and a former director of the French Institute in London, Jean-Yves Tadié.
Even as Bonnefoy spends time in his office at '63' (across the road from '72' where he lives with his painter wife Lucy Vines), organising the collection of his many papers and lectures for eventual publication in book form, he continues writing personal meditations and poetry, as well as essays on poetics and literature and translation. And, as always, he is there for his friends when they need him, whether it involves a personal confidence or advice or merely a spot of gossip. What a privilege to be a close personal friend and translator of this master, who changed my life fifty years ago.
This item is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.