Thursday, 18 August 2011
Wine and ketchup
First the good news from The Poetry Society. Stage 1 completed with the reinstatement of Judith Palmer, full of praise, an apology, and also a statement praising the editorship of Fiona Sampson. All this is good. Meantime the President and the Vice-Presidents have all gone - Jo Shapcott, Don Paterson, Sean O'Brien, Anne Stevenson and Gwyneth Lewis. It will be hard getting people as good as that, but essentially it's a clean slate for the new board who will be voted in at the AGM. They will have a tough task.
Not so good news. Things are far from clear regarding funding of the PBS and there are more battles to be fought there. You have years without a crisis then, like buses, two come along at the same time - just when you least need them. Not to mention the battles for survival of Arc and Enitharmon, Flambard, The Poetry Trust, and the Lancaster LitFest.
Poetry will survive of course - it always does because it is deep in the human spirit. Organisations and institutions, on the other hand, are not eternal but their experience and skill are part of the fabric, and it is not until they are gone that people realise what they made happen and what has stopped happening.
None of the dramatic events tells you much about poetry or poets. It tells you far more about society, the cultural bodies that it deploys to represent itself, and the kind of mindset bred by bureaucracy and short sight, producing the crudest system of values and the shortest term notions of success.
Bureaucracy and short sight is where we are. It is what we live with. Cuisine for the privileged and fast food for the rest with only the thin ketchup of cheap piety giving an illusion of flavour.