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This item is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

News & Notes
One of the great literary publishing houses of our time, FARRAR, STRAUS & GIROUX, celebrated its half century in New York with two evenings of literary readings at the New York Public Library. The all-male 18 September cast of poets featured Ashbery, Bidart, Fenton, Gunn, Heaney, Muldoon, Pinsky, Walcott, Williams, Wright and Zagajewski. Prose readers on the 19th included Jamaica Kincaid, Edna O'Brien, Grace Paley, Susan Sontag, Mario Vargas Llosa and seven other luminaries. In its second list, in 1947, the house published Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli, the first of its numerous 'enduring and treasur-able books'.

PETER REDGROVE was awarded the 1996 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

CHOLMONDELEY AWARDS were presented this year to Elizabeth Bartlett, Dorothy Nimmo, Peter Scupham and lain Crichton Smith. Gregory Awards went to Sue Butler, Cathy Cullis, Jane Griffiths, Jane Holland, Chris Jones, Sinéad Morrissey and Kate Thomas. Stewart Conn received a Travelling Scholarship. Arts Council of England Awards went to poets Ian Duhig, Sophie Hannah, James Harpur, Peter Reading and Deryn Rhys-Jones.

The fourteenth Summer Seminar of the Kanto Poetry Centre took place at the Hayama Seminar House of Kanto Gakuin University, Japan. Three leading Japanese poets participated: Shuntaro Tanikawa, the most popular and inventive of the contemporary Japanese writers, translated by (among others) the conference founders and organisers Professors William Elliott and Kazuo Kawamura; Matsuo Takahashi, a witty and energetic presence whose vivid, brittle poems have been published in the United States; and Kiwao Nomura, three of whose experimental works were performed. The Kanto Poetry Centre is the first of its kind in Japan. Poetry Kanto, the stylishly designed annual magazine, includes work by English language and Japanese writers (the latest issue featuring the Japanese writers mentioned and also Lawrence Sail, Michael Hamburger, Harry Guest and others). Previous conferences have hosted readings and seminars by Seamus Heaney, Les Murray, Denise Levertov, W.S. Merwin and Nuala nl Dhomhnaill. The audience consists primarily of Japanese students, writers and teachers, the seminar providing a two-way exposure for the English-language poetry, with numerous events crammed into a very full three days. Unlike writers' conferences, here intensive cultural exchange occurs, not writers but writing matters; and the presentation and exposition of complex texts yields insights into the parameters within which poetries at a language's remove can sound and mean, and into the art and limits of translation. After years of success the Kanto Poetry Seminar is a crucial English-Japanese meeting point which might well be imitated elsewhere, and not only in Japan.

The great Yugoslav poet IVAN LALIC, whose poems have been memorably translated into English by Francis R. Jones (Anvil), died suddenly in July at the age of 64. Many voices from Eastern Europe and the Balkans have been heard in English, but few are as balanced, lucid and alive to the complexities of a world repeatedly on the cusp of crisis as Lalic's. At times his mining of the past suggests the classic poise of Zbigniew Herbert; but there is in Lalic an honouring of the intimate, vulnerable unit of family and its unstable microcosm. His wife was Croatian, and he wrote in Serbo-Croat, a language which seems now to have dissolved into its constituent parts. Lalic's poetry refused to abandon a shared heritage; in the Independent Celia Hawkesworth said: 'its searching honesty shines with a particular healing intensity'.

The Iraqi poet, critic, artist and political activist BULLAND AL-HAIDARI, much of whose life was spent in exile, died in August. He was 70. Born of a Kurdish aristocratic family, he wrote verse in Kurdish to begin with, but his second language came to dominate and he was one of the poets who helped radicalise modern Arabic poetry. His first, most passionate following was in Egypt where he made his name. His first exile was in Beirut in 1963, his last - as a refugee from Saddam Hussein's régime -in London where he died.

In July M.l. (Macha Lois) ROSENTHAL, poet, teacher and critic, died in his eightieth year. Rosenthal was an influential anthologist, a New Critic in practice, and a vigorous advocate. It is he who, in 1959, writing about the poetry of Robert Lowell, first used the term 'confessional poetry' to describe a new strain in modern writing.

The Belgian composer, Walloon poet and librettist ALPHONSE HULEUX died in January shortly before his 83rd birthday. His settings and songs were popular among members of the Resistance during the war, in Belgium, Northern France and in England. He set to music songs of his fellow-townsman Rene Godeau, four of which are played on the quarter hours by the town-hall carillon of his native Courcelles. LEON WARNANT, author of studies of the Walloon dialect and of two books of Walloon poetry, died this spring. He was 77. (YL)

A. POULIN, best known as a translator of Rilke, an editor and anthologist, but also a poet and activist for poetry, died earlier this year at the age of 58.

GEOFFREY DEARMER, the last of the poets of the First World War, and for all his integrity and longevity one of the least, died in August. He was 103. His work was rediscovered on his 100th birthday and he enjoyed with amusement and pleasure an extreme old age of celebrity.

On 8 November Christ's Hospital School, Horsham, Sussex, marked the centenary of the birth of another figure whose subject was the First World War, its distinguished alumnus, the poet, anthologist and critic EDMUND BLUNDEN. A literary lunch, a tour, exhibition and performances marked his life and achievement as writer, memoirist and advocate.

This item is taken from PN Review 112, Volume 23 Number 2, November - December 1996.

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