Poetry News

UK Poetry Society Loses Funding

By Harriet Staff

Goodness, the Independent is quoting Cyril Connolly, who apparently once described poets as "jackals fighting over an empty well."

We've been following the ruckus at the UK Poetry Society for a month or so now. First, the director resigned after an "internal coup." That event was followed by poets fighting red wheelbarrows with plums. Now, in the debacle's latest development, the 102-year-old Poetry Society has lost its funding. The Bookseller elaborates:

Arts Council England (ACE) has confirmed it is withholding the Poetry Society's quarterly grant payment of almost £78,500, in the wake of the major internal row and resignations.

The payment was due to the Poetry Society at the start of July. ACE said it was withholding the payment until the society has addressed its concerns around "governance, management and leadership, reputational risk and reasonable care". ACE said it hoped to be in a position to make the delayed payment by the time of the body's annual general meeting in September.

The move follows the departure of the Poetry Society director Judith Palmer, president Jo Shapcott and vice-president Gwyneth Lewis, among others, and an extraordinary general meeting earlier this month at which the society's board of trustees also agreed to stand down. An interim director, Amanda Smethurst, is now at the helm of the organisation.

The Independent talked with broadcaster Joan Bakewell, a Poetry Society honorary member, who lamented the current state of things:

"I do feel sad that nice people who love words have fallen victim to the world's woes. I suspect poets should know better. I feel sad that many small poetry publishers had their funding axed earlier this year. Maybe the Arts Council shouldn't have put all its books in one basket."

Perhaps the situation will improve once confidence is regained. Or perhaps things might circle back to Cyril Connolly. Why, everyone could move to the French Riviera and ponder these problems over The Rock Pool! Sounds good to us.

Originally Published: July 26th, 2011