Try convincing newspapers that the sensational angle is not the right angle. Not possible. The story is all that counts, whether the story is true or not. Ever since the Poetry Society debacle started the press story has been feuds between poets. I tried to write to The Guardian, offered a brief article. No acknowledgment. Wrote a letter to The Times about their disgraceful article. No acknowledgement. Yesterday sent the petition letter to The Guardian headlined by Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Jo Shapcott, Liz Lochhead and Simon Armitage et al, as well as a number of prominent writers, hoping it would be published on the day of the Board of Trustees meeting. No letter appears. Still in queue. Blog does appear, noting the petition and linking to it, but without saying anything about who has signed it. Tucked away there.
It's like pointing to a burning building and the press writing about a half-imagined fight in one of the windows.
The only place I could make anything like a rational comment is in the Comments box. If anyone is interested, this was the comment:
KatyEB is quite right, I haven't acted alone. [Katy Evans-Bush is the first to raise this point in the Comments section]. The thousand people who signed, including all the well known poets, have worked together to try and rescue the Poetry Society. The petitioners have never represented the situation as a spat between individuals and certainly not one between poets, since the former Director, Judith Palmer, is not a poet, nor is the acting Chair of the Board of Trustees, nor was the finance director who also resigned, nor are a good number of the current board. Both Judith Palmer and Fiona Sampson (who is a poet and a very fine one) have said publicly that they are happy to continue to work with each other.
But in any case the Poetry Society is so much more than a place for poets. Try looking at its range of activities, including its work in education. It is one of the two major institutions of poetry in this country and since the other one, the Poetry Book Society, has been deprived of public support (though people are energetically working for its survival), the Poetry Society has become all the more important. If, of course, the country no longer cares for its own major cultural product over the centuries, then so much worse for the country. I write this in my Hungarian voice and also as someone with no other stake in the Poetry Society than having been a member for thirty odd years.
It shows the pitiable state of things that I have to come to a comment board to point this out. And the press coverage, Richard, has been the usual opportunistic personality stuff. Feuds are news: constitutions may not be. But public bodies stand or fall by their constitutions.
Both the society and the review were successful. However, it seems to me - and to many many others - that Judith Palmer has had a particularly raw deal, directly after her success (together with her staff of course) in not only saving an institution but increasing its potential scope. The first civilised step is to reinstate her and let a new board, due to be elected this month, resolve any specific difficulties.
Forgive the slight exasperation. We shall see what happens in the meantime. Maybe even what has happened today.