There is going to be a Poetry Society AGM on July 22, in London.  I am one of the people who is planning to attend (I have proxies).  Emails are flying back and forth.  Dr. Fiona Sampson is upset by the famous "Downfall" Youtube video, satirising the current crisis.  And, increasingly, what seemed a clear rallying cry, from Kate Clanchy, to sign up, and force a vote for an emergency meeting, to compel the Board of Trustees to clarify why all the resignations took place, has become muddied, through no fault of anyone's.  The problem is, the AGM is going to be a head-on collision between those who want to know what happened at meetings, and those who may not want to reveal what happened.  What we know, in the public, is that there is a debate at high level about the Poetry Review editor's contract, and the role of the Director who seems to have been sidelined at various meetings, and various other members of the Board, several of whom resigned.  However, the Poetry Society continues, and most of the Trustees remain in place.  They are not criminals, or wrongdoers, but serious professionals.  People must be careful not to libel, or accuse.  Careers are at stake.

Tones of recent messages on all sides have become personalised - partially because this is a personal matter for some involved.  It seems to me that this is becoming a legal and procedural nightmare, and a lot of people are going to arrive at that meeting seeking a variety of different things, with possible chaos ensuing.  I do hope that a clear and fair line emerges, from the Requisitioner's camp (I remain one of them for now) which allows the information to emerge, legally and fairly, without undue pressure or malevolence directed at  any one individual.  For the record, I consider Dr. Fiona Sampson a colleague, and a friend.  She is an excellent poet and editor, and a decent human being.  I would not want to be any part of any sequence of events that came to resemble a lynching party, or a witch-hunt.  Poets are not ideal for this sort of business, and I hope we can manage to do ourselves credit on the 22nd. The best thing would be for a resolution to be achieved before then, in fact.  Can the Board please make a statement and clarify what happened, and why, and avoid the confrontation that looms?


Anonymous said…
It's always struck me as ironic, once poets need the services of a barrister to do their talking for them, to act on their behalf, because poets, by definition, are supposed to be the most eloquent people on the planet, and the ideal is to be waxing lyrical above the pitch of the dusty legal bods for whom a poet from top table they have professional dealings with, represents only a fee.

Careers are at stake, you write, and this is the nub of it. Careers made and broken, not on the strength of poems, but on the machinations of the mind in a place like London, where the dead can drop in front of us and our immediate reaction is 'fuck off and die someplace else'.

They should move the PS HQ to someplace like Liverpool or Burnley, Bridlington or Bridgend, Nottingham or Truro, Scunthorpe, Southport or Craven Mills, anywhere but that gawd forsaken shit-hole of London, where it's all about how much money you earn, rather than how good your poetry is.

Desmond Boreds