Poetry News

Poetry Society Members Petition from a Red Wheelbarrow

By Harriet Staff

As we mentioned not too long ago, the UK's Poetry Society is still in troubled waters: its chairman of the board, Peter Carpenter, has resigned, adding to a "spate of departures which has sown confusion among the society's members and thrown a £360,000 Arts Council grant into jeopardy," as the Guardian reports.

According to a statement on the society's website, Carpenter has "decided to step down as chair and from the board of trustees with immediate effect". Speaking to the Guardian this morning, the society's press officer, Lisa Roberts, explained that Carpenter – a published poet himself who also teaches English at Tonbridge School – had resigned because of "the pressures of his work" as a teacher.

The resignation adds to the strains on the society, which has seen the loss of the society's president, Jo Shapcott, its financial officer, Paul Ranford and its director, Judith Palmer, in recent weeks.

Apparently there is still much confusion as to why the Poetry Society is falling apart. "Poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy is just one of 423 members to have added their names to a campaign for the Poetry Society to explain itself after its chair, director, finance manager and president all resigned." And now, "disgruntled poets" have come up with a creative tactic to find out exactly what's behind the resignations. Yesterday, with a nod to William Carlos Williams, they hauled a red wheelbarrow carrying members' signatures to the Poetry Society, demanding that its board of trustees explain themselves.

In a nod to Williams's famous poem, "so much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside the white / chickens", the poet Anna Robinson wheeled a red wheelbarrow "glazed with rain" to the Poetry Society headquarters yesterday. It contained a requisition calling for an extraordinary general meeting and the names of the members calling for it, which exceed the 10% required to enforce the move. In another Williams reference, the poets were presented with some plums by the Poetry Society.

"We were very appreciative of the inspiration and the poetic reference, and we acknowledged their reference with our own and gave them some plums," said Poetry Society press and marketing manager Lisa Roberts.

Originally Published: July 6th, 2011