Thursday, 15 September 2011
Poetry Society AGM
A full day down in London yesterday - a fine conversational lunch in Knightsbridge at a Lebanese (Knightsbridge not being a usual haunt), then over to St Giles-in-the Field for the Poetry Society AGM, with Judith Palmer back in office, and the voting for a new board of trustees. Because I'm early I stop off for a drink at the nearest bar, which is a rough and ready Tin Pan Alley tribute place (the street was Tin Pan Alley earlier), and am reading when three likely Poetry Society Member come in - representatives of Stanza in Leicester. We fall to talking, exchanging memories / impressions of Leicester and of OUP so time quickly passes.
The place is filling up and there are queues. I am carrying a proxy and am down for another. I recognize less than half the people but that still leaves plenty I do recognize. We vote first, then the meeting begins. Very good to see Judith - things will have been very hard for her. And not only for her, of course, but she was the one without a job for a while.
We get the reports. 'And it was going so well...' would have been the verdict on the previous year's activities up to March, and then the well-known leap off the cliff of madness, would have set back all her work - and the work of the other highly valued staff - and put it into doubt. As it is there are accounts but they are yet to be audited, the auditing depending on the support of the funders. The first thing to do is to have a new board in place, which is our chief business today, then the auditors can sign off.
The sheer range of activities of the Poetry Society is enough to make me dizzy. What does the Poetry Society do? ask younger poets. It's just the establishment, isn't it? What does it have to do with me? The answer is to look at the website, possibly the membership page, here. Now scroll down. And it's not a big staff at all. While the votes were being counted five poets read a couple of poems each, starting with Hugo Williams. But the last three were all young poets at the beginning of their careers.
Since the disaster happened because constitutional matters were, to say the least, confused, there were quite a few constitutional points raised from the floor, proposals seconded, modified, voted on. I suspect there is no aching need for changes in the constitution, but that constitution should be followed, especially when it comes to controversial matters. The results of the voting are here. Good to see Paul Ranford, the previous Financial Director on that list. Apart from being a very brave and honourable man he knows exactly how the finances worked before and is therefore vital for continuity.
And now for something completely different. Mr RG, poetry-in-motion. The man is 38. Of course I missed it being down in London. Home past midnight as ever.