Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Petition to save The Poetry Society

There is now a petition, addressed by myself, and signed by Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Liz Lochead and Jo Shapcott as the first four signatories. The link to the petition is here.

The website for following events through (the official Poetry Society is keeping its mouth shut but leaking money from every other orifice) is here. Do read the former Director, Judith Palmer's statement.

My previous posts on this are here and here. Please do read the comments.

Read also Jane Holland and Katy Evans-Bush here and here. Add Phil at the excellent Silkworms who has tracked the affair throughout.

Full live audio of EGM here, thanks to Martin Alexander.

And thanks for everything, Kate Clanchy. Now let's get this done. Please sign the petition. Anyone interested can sign.


Silkworms Ink said...

Your petition has been linked to by the Poetry Society's official Twitter account. Which makes me smile.

Martina Evans said...

Thank you so much for organising this petition which will gladden so many hearts, I'm sure.

George S said...

I can't claim false credit for the organisation, only for putting my name on the front because I fully support it, Martina.

Gwilym Williams said...

* 102 year old patient requires surgery *

According to the Telegraph the Poetry Society is no longer a "forum for the gentle discussion of poetry". The Guardian that hears the rattle of angry teacups. I daren't look YouTube where comparisons to Nazis are drawn.

Have you looked at the USA's Poetry Foundation as a way forward - maybe you could affiliate?

George S said...

I don't think it needs much surgery, apart from a brain and heart transplant, Gwilym. In societies that is easily done with a change of board. The patient survives. This petition is an attempt to make sure the patient does survive.

The Poetry Foundation in the US has the advantage of an over $1 million bequest. It is terrific and a good model in many respects but not in terms of resources and management,

The Guardian and the rest are being lazy idiots scrambling for clichés. No use expecting intelligence from newspapers. There never were just teacups, or gentle discussions. Poetry is not psychotherapy for the oversensitive and genteel middle-aged.

This is not about poetry anyway. This could happen in any circumstances involving a board of trustees and paid employees with proper job descriptions and contracts. My strong impression is that some trustees, in a moment of madness or vindictiveness, or both, wanted to solve what has been advertised as a problem by cutting out procedure through secret meetings and changing people's terms of employment. They were willing to force people to resignation to carry this through. The first resignation might well have been their aim. Then, because they realised that such an action made them vulnerable, they ran scared to a very expensive law firm when they could have got free advice from a number of sources.

Ironically, and unforgivably, the people forced to resign or driven to resign were the very people who had got them their £100,000 raise in grant. This does not strike most people as acceptable behaviour, let alone proper procedure.

Diane said...

I have signed the petition, George, and have also just read Judith Palmer's statement.

There is a chilling resemblance here to the sudden steps taken in 2010 at UEA regarding BCLT. I thus wholly recognise the scenario around Judith Palmer's "resignation".

I wish her to find "good calm" and, though she does not know me, I do know this kind of organisational behaviour. It can be very difficult to survive. Her friends will "see" her through it.

Gwilym Williams said...

I gather it's to do wit' brass. Are the books in order? On second thoughts don't answer that. Anyway, the cops have enough to do sorting out their own problems.

panther said...

"The gentle discussion of poetry " ? No way. Quite right, George, poetry isn't a sort of quasi-psychotherapy for the genteel or the elderly. Or for the dreaded white middle-classes.Or, at least, it shouldn't be.

I have to chuckle, though (in a sneery kind of way) at The Guardian finding fault with other people for being white and middle-class.