Skip to content

Proxies for the Extraordinary General Meeting of The Poetry Society on 22nd July

July 5, 2011

“We are the members: you are the Trustees. Your authority comes from our trust. We need you to tell us what you have done, and why, in order for us to continue to trust you. That is why we are requiring you to have an extraordinary meeting.” – Kate Clanchy. 

As a result of news of the recent requisition of an Extraordinary General Meeting by over 400 Members of the Poetry Society, delivered today (Tuesday 5th July) to the Betterton Street office (in a wheelbarrow), the Board anticipated the requisition by calling a General Meeting for the 22nd July. We assume that the General Meeting will be upgraded to an Extraordinary one following the requisition. The Board’s announcement is appended below.


Some members will be unable to attend, and will need to have a proxy in the event of any motions being put to a vote.

Go to the Poetry Society’s Facebook page to volunteer or to find a proxy. You’ll need to be a member of Facebook to do this.

Alternatively, please click on the Proxies link under the chimney above if you’d like to offer to be a proxy or to get in touch with one.


Here’s the announcement from the Board:


The Poetry Society (Incorporated)
Company Number 01557657

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that a General Meeting of the above-named company will be held in Lecture Theatre 1, The Royal College of Surgeons, 35-43 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London WC2A 3PE on Friday 22 July 2011 at 2.00pm for the following purpose:

To outline the future strategy of The Poetry Society and to receive members’ input.”

Location and directions

Click on the Events link at the top of the page for details on how to get to the meeting.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. July 18, 2011 5:54 pm

    I have received the letter below in my email from a PS member I don’t know, and I think it belongs better here. I have to say I have no idea what dark deeds the requisitioner is talking about, nor the ‘dogfight’, nor the ‘un-named protagonists’, nor indeed the ordinary members! I am an ordinary member, I paid the same as I assume everyone else did and receive no special privileges. This campaign for an EGM has been undertaken in an absolutely transparent and exemplary fashion with complete open-ness. Kate Clanchy is paying a high personal cost in terms of her time and energy and it’s a p[ity that this is perhaps not appreciated.
    warm wishes
    Polly Clark

    Dear Poetry Society Member,

    As an ordinary Poetry Society member who was somewhat disconcerted by stories of questionable activities there (mainly from the blog ‘Baroque in Hackney’) I signed the petition for an EGM. Indeed I would still do so.

    However, It now seems to me possible that battle lines were being drawn for regime change and that the issue presented was not the whole story. Things do not appear to have been frankly set out and this has resulted in a horrible dogfight, driven by un-named protagonists.

    There is no moral high ground in any of this. I hope there will be many ordinary members voting at the EGM. I also hope they will take account of the possible political motives which could have been present in the decision of people to resign. Certainly a highly structured political campaign has been mounted around the presenting issues, so I feel no compunction in attempting to highlight this fact.

    I hope you will excuse me making use of your email which was on the Members List of email addresses inadvertently sent out by Kate.

    Yours sincerely,

    Malinda Kennedy

  2. Bert Molsom permalink
    July 10, 2011 8:21 am

    Strictly speaking I believe that Ms Bamford is correct in her statement about an independent chair. However……., I believe a creative solution would be the use of Articles 18 and 38 to a) co-opt a Trustee (if we could find someone willing to act!) and then that Trustee could be nominated “by the Trustees” to “preside as the Chair of the meeting”

    This I would have thought would be very much in the interests of the existing Trustees so that they could at no time be in a conflict of interest in the discussion of any item raised by the attendees.

    In my e-mail appointing my proxy I commented as follows “My only hope is that the meeting will remain calm and coherent and that all those with something to say, including the Board, are given the courtesy of a fair hearing. We have reached the point where there is enough disrepute washing around the situation without it being exacerbated by verbal pugilism. Straight answers to straight questions is what I want so that I can then decide upon my position as a Member.”

    Whoever finally chairs the meeting I just hope they achieve this result.

  3. Eva Salzman permalink
    July 9, 2011 10:58 pm

    Have I missed something? There’s no mention of Independent Chair. I’m still dubious but will try to take on the general air of optimism in terms of how people think this will go.

    • The Poetry Society permalink*
      July 9, 2011 11:05 pm

      Bamford has said that there will be an independent moderator to run the q&a session; it’s been suggested that it’s not against the constitution to move for an independent chair at the start of the meeting. I’ll have a look at the constitution and see.

  4. Meg cox permalink
    July 8, 2011 8:13 am

    ‘I’ve just been asked to tell those who haven’t yet posted their form that they should write ‘Proxy’ on the front of the envelope to make sure it gets to the right person.’
    Do you think this is so they can be identified as ‘recycling’ without the need to open them?

    • July 8, 2011 7:07 pm

      I hope that the Meeting is going to be held, precisely, to its timetable. We are given from 2.30 -3.35 to speak from the floor, but if the programme has over-run, will the Meeting be continuing past 4.p.m? Otherwise it will become a type of censorship-by-time-deprivation.
      We have all been to poetry readings where someone has gone on and on and on, leading to a brisk ‘Well, we haven’t any more time,’ doors-closing kind of thing.
      Plus, it’s going to be most educational to see the Board up there in real life and not as something akin to the Cheshire Cat.

  5. Eva Salzman permalink
    July 7, 2011 9:56 am

    To avoid a meeting consumed by bureaucracy, points of order, and efforts to obtain already withheld acknowledgement of that which we already know is the case – that the EGM must happened and even replace AGM – wouldn’t it be sensible to appoint Chair and compose an agenda for this EGM in advance?

    The Trustees are writing theirs, thus far heedless of queries or protests, and the strategically deflective politesse that has engendered widespread mistrust and anger. has me concerned as to what other tactics might be sidestep crucial issues within the meeting .(addressing a few points to avoid crucial ones, sowing of division, even a scapegoat offered up, etc.)

  6. Eva Salzman permalink
    July 7, 2011 8:40 am


    Thanks for setting this up. I thought constitution HAD been checked, that there’s nothing AGAINST appointing Independent Chair but good idea to request copy. Wonder how long this will take. (Perhaps a part of meeting can be used up on this!) I’ve always thought Chair should be appointed in advance,AND the agenda set, as the Poetry Society are setting theirs: to avoid being preempted again, through bureaucracy, sowing of inner divisions, red herrings and continued hard-nose tactics dressed up as niceties. Isn’t that how it goes?

    • July 7, 2011 9:44 am

      I know that Kate and others have consulted lawyers pro bono for advice, and my assumption is that they’ve had access to the constitution. I’ve asked PoSoc for a copy but as yet have had no reply. It would seem straightforward for Kate to suggest a chair on our behalf, to notify the Board in advance and to have that person voted in at the beginning of the meeting. What bemuses me is that the Board is stalling instead of welcoming the requisition with open arms.

    • July 7, 2011 12:49 pm

      The Constitution is now on the ABOUT page of this site.

  7. July 7, 2011 7:18 am

    From memory of my time as director of a national charity, members are fully entitled to ask for and receive a copy of the constitution, to table motions providing they meet the required period of notice and to be treated with the respect to which they are entitled. Members own the Poetry Society, the trustees merely hold it in trust for us.

  8. Bert Molsom permalink
    July 7, 2011 6:49 am

    This was the message I sent yesterday on receipt of the latest e-mail from the Board (6th July 5.32 p.m.):

    Ms Bamford,

    I regret that I find the attached communication from you to be unacceptable.

    You announced the calling of a General Meeting of the Society on the 30th June with a bland ‘catch all’ description of its purpose as “To outline the future strategy of The Poetry Society” and to receive members’ input but are now expecting me to believe that no formal agenda has yet been prepared and, indeed, no agenda will be available until next week. When next week? Monday? Friday?

    My position is as follows:

    1. if the Board has good reasons for the unusually high number of resignations I want to know them;
    2. if the Board wishes to change the direction of the Society (within the terms of the Memorandum and Articles, of course) I want to know why and in what direction; and
    3. if the Board wishes me to remain as a Member please have the courtesy to treat me as such.

    I have no axes to grind, I am not a published poet, I am not involved in any poetry based business, I just enjoy poetry! If I was a shareholder in a business which was bringing itself in to disrepute I would expect, no, demand, action and information from the Board to enable me to judge the facts. If this information was not forthcoming I would cease to be a shareholder – why should the Poetry Society be different?

    Bert Molsom

  9. Lindy Barbour permalink
    July 6, 2011 10:09 pm

    I find it odd that an AGM can be called to pre-empt an EGM called by members. Surely the constitution provides regulations for the timing and due notice and call for motions, amendments, proposed office bearers etc for an AGM? You cant just up and have an AGM.

    Also there must always be the possibility to hear motions from the floor by voting for the suspension of standing orders-and for the chair to stand aside upon a motion of no confidence being proposed and passed?

    • July 7, 2011 9:40 am

      I wrote to ‘Info’ some days ago suggesting that they should take the initiative and call the meeting themselves rather than suffer the embarrassment of having it imposed. Whether or not at my instigation, this is what they did – but to my consternation it seems that what they’ve actually done is to make an adversarial move to block our requisition, rather than an eager and supportive jumping of the gun.

  10. anne permalink
    July 6, 2011 6:44 pm

    I am astonished that it is not open to the meeting to appoint its own chair from among members present. I would like to see chapter and verse for this assertion.

    Also, does the constitution preclude motions from the floor? Is there a particular requirement for notice for certain sorts of motion, eg, no confidence in the board? I doubt.

    • July 6, 2011 8:52 pm

      I’ve asked a someone called ‘Info’ at the Poetry Society if I can get hold of a copy of the constitution. Surely they must have a PDF they can make available to members.

  11. Eva Salzman permalink
    July 6, 2011 5:57 pm

    Actually, as a cynic, I am not astonished or they wouldn’t have stolen a march by calling an AGM so as to sidestep EGM, as they’re still doing. Behind-the-scenes scrambling perhaps, and another resignation.

  12. July 6, 2011 5:18 pm

    Just had an email from the PS thanking us for the ‘imaginative and poetic’ wheelbarrow and going on to say that they will do ‘all they can’ to address our ‘concerns’ at the ‘General Meeting’ – seems they have no intention of moving it to an EGM or of using the requisition as the agenda since they still say they are drawing up the agenda. they use the constitution to say they can’t have an independent chair but are actively considering a facilitator, but surely the constitution also provides that they call an EGM within 14 days when requisitioned to do so? Astonished doesn’t begin to say it. and meanwhile another trustee has resigned.

  13. Penelope Shuttle permalink
    July 6, 2011 4:20 pm

    I am astonished that The Board of Trustees have not yet responded to the petition requisition delivered yesterday. Why the delay?

    • July 6, 2011 5:05 pm

      It’s truly astonishing. Just after 5pm today, there was a belated response of sorts which you should have received by e-mail – it’s also in the Board? section of the site…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: