I have just heard that Vera Rich, poet, editor of Manifold poetry magazine, linguist, activist and much more besides, died last Christmas (20 December 2009). The link to her obituary in The Times is here.
I learned a great deal from my Manifold subscriptions and particularly enjoyed taking part in the challenges. There were two per issue, one was for a topical or anniversary theme (e.g. Porcelain or Telecommunications) and the other for a poem in a particular form - and often quite an unusual and taxing one at that e.g. the Ukrainian Kolomyika.
Vera would ring me up on occasions. She rang one day to say that she was catching the train to Swansea to come to the Dylan Thomas Centre. We met her at the station, escorted her to the venue, introduced her to some local poet friends and delivered her back at the railway station afterwards. She was intent on catching a late train in order to arrive at the appointed crack-of-dawn opening hour of her favourite local baker.
As a young poet, I felt privileged to be a part of the Manifold community. I recall a message from Vera, asking if she could read one of my poems on National Poetry Day in a London church venue. I was invited to be on the jury for judging (?challenge) poems on one occasion. I only met Vera Rich once, but her name appeared frequently in our house within the pages of the Times Higher Education Supplement.