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Nominations for the Board of Trustees

Further down this page there is a list of the candidates. Click on a name to read his or her statement and other information. See below for Wordle maps, too. Nominees are invited to post further information directly on this website or through the administrator.

Please keep this space free for candidates or comments in reply to a candidate’s post. Other comments should go on the AGM page.

To download the updated version of the proxy form, click here.


6th September 2011 – Recent comments on this page: Stephen Irwin, Mark Niel, Laurie Smith, Eva Salzman (with replies from Paul Ranford, Charles Lauder, Bert Molsom and Stephen Irwin)

5th September 2011 – How should Members decide which twelve candidates to choose? Fiona Moore has some advice on her blog here. Anyone else? Post on the Nominations page or e-mail the site administrator to add your thoughts or link your site.

Please note that Bryan Owen and Cary Archard have withdrawn their nominations as potential trustees.

31st August 2011 – 

Statements too long? Read on for very quick Wordle distillations….

Click on the image to see the Wordles Alex Swann has made from all the nominees’ statements. (A Wordle takes a block of text and arranges the words randomly in a sort of mosaic so that the most frequently repeated words appear in a larger font and therefore stand out. The result can bring out interesting and often surprising emphases which might not otherwise have been evident.) Click on this link for Alex’s Wordle site.

27th August 2011 – Messages from the Director, Judith Palmer, with full details of nominations and the agenda for the AGM; and from Kate Clanchy about proxy voting.



A complaint was made by one of the candidates that eleven of the statements made on the proposal forms exceeded the 200 words requested. The candidate regarded this as a material failing. The application form did indeed make it clear that candidates were to respond in ‘not more than 200 words’.

It seems that the complaint precipitated a decision to delete words in excess of 200. This perhaps explains why eleven statements end with three dots in the middle of a sentence. It also seems likely that because of the printing and postal deadlines, it may not have been possible to inform candidates and members of this decision in the mailing.

You might like to read the post on this site by Bryan Owen, in which he explains why he made the complaint and withdrew his candidature. Others have responded.

Trustee Candidates

Martin – admin


Text posted before the nominations deadline:

There will be a large number of Members, like Sir Stephen Irwin, who do not have many – or any – contacts within the membership whom they can ask to propose them as potential Trustees. I was in that position myself until six weeks ago when all this started.

So if you think you would make a good Trustee, please fill in the form, state your case on this page, and invite members to second your application. Being a member of an in-group is not a prerequisite for a potential Trustee!

106 Comments leave one →
  1. September 18, 2011 1:55 pm

    I have received some comments about my Unelected Trustee posting on my blog and would be grateful if you will allow me to direct you back there for my response. Let us hope that this is the start of a productive debate(s).

  2. September 16, 2011 8:54 am

    I would congratulate all those who have been elected to the Board and wish them every success in their endeavours. I am happy to support the Society going forward and, indeed, would be happy to play a part in any review of past events that have brought us to where we are now.

    I must say that I was disappointed, indeed, deflated to read the figures of the numbers who voted in the elections. I am incredulous, if the figures are right and I have no reason to suspect they are not, that less people voted for the new Board than signed the petition to call for the EGM. A worrying aspect that the new Board need to address along with all their other ‘things to do’.

    I shall be commenting further on my blog A Shropshire View.

  3. Stephen Wilson permalink
    September 15, 2011 11:15 am

    I should like to thank everyone who supported my nomination and congratulate others elected to the new Board. It is a privilege and I hope a rewarding responsibility. Hope we can now look forward to resolving outstanding issues, restoration of ACE funding, and the future wellbeing of the Society. I echo last night’s thanks to all the candidates.

  4. September 15, 2011 8:02 am

    I have a Mantra when I compete in Poetry Slams which is “Win with class, lose with dignity” and so applying this principle, I write to offer my congratulations to those elected to the new Board of Trustees. It was a pleasure to meet some of you last night at the AGM and you have my full support as you take on the task of moving the Society forward.

    Best wishes


  5. Martin Alexander permalink*
    September 13, 2011 4:14 pm

    I don’t suppose that many will read this before the AGM tomorrow, but I thought I should make a couple of points …

    Those of you who have assiduously read the huge volume of material that has built up on this site since the 5th July will know that apart from the occasional envelope through the letterbox and absent membership in Oxford Stanza 2, I had no connection with the Poetry Society (or its members) before Kate Clanchy began her campaign for clarity. And I only found out about that through a general e-mail from the organiser of my Stanza group.

    You’ll also know that I edit the poetry section for the Asia Literary Review and that I run this website.

    Since I’ve been nominated as a potential Trustee, I thought I’d bring these three things together lest they be buried in all the rest of it.

    When all this started, I had no Poetry Society ambitions and no expectation even of becoming Master of the Website. (All that came later).

    What I did want was to find out what on earth was going on at the Poetry Society and to make sure that, whatever it was, the crisis should be resolved as soon as possible. What offended me was the fact that the Society I had long revered seemed to be imploding, that heads were obviously buried in the sand, that the embarrassing ineptitude in communication seemed to be (and, we found out, was) endemic, and that the Board’s appalling approach to governance was at the root of all the Society’s problems.

    There are specific things to be dealt with, most notably the ACE grant. But what I want to ensure is the following:

    1) that Members should have access to information about what is going on in the management of the Society; that this information should be recorded and, where appropriate, made public; and that Members should know and be able to communicate directly with the Board and its individual Trustees;

    2) that the separation of powers between the Board and the Director should be understood, respected and maintained so that decisions may properly be made by the Director, with the support of and – where she considers it appropriate – in consultation with the Board, staff and Members;

    3) that the provisions and requirements of the Memorandum and Articles of Association, of employment law, of the Charities Commission and of recognised good practice should be demonstrably understood and followed; and

    4) that the Board and the Director should actively ensure that policies and decisions are tested against compliance with these provisions.

    All this should be taken as given in an institution which communicates well, works collaboratively to achieve agreed objectives and follows clearly established procedures.

    Finally, I was both astonished and profoundly heartened by the latest Poetry Society bulletin. If that’s what the Poetry Society can do in a crisis, how wonderful it will be when it can just get on with what it’s here to do.

  6. Laurie Smith permalink
    September 9, 2011 10:02 am

    It’s good to have some discussion of the practicalities of the first Board meeting even though no-one knows who will be there. I hope those who are elected will meet immediately after the election to put faces to names and exchange email addresses (and arrange to receive from the PoSoc the email addresses of new trustees who can’t be present).

    Besides the essential points that Stephen has made, Charles mentions “the programme that secured the Poetry Society the increased funding”. I think the new trustees need to see and digest the Society’s successful application to ACE before the first meeting and Judith may, of course, have this in mind.

    Neil Reeder suggests “a few examples of good governance” to help guide the new trustees. I’m in touch with someone who was a PoSoc trustee from 2004 to 2007 and says: “we introduced a new trustees pack with mentors so that new trustees could be advised of what their responsibilities were and guided through their first steps in the role”.

    Mentors won’t be available with a completely new Board, but the pack seems a very good idea. I asked Judith about this on 30 August and haven’t had a reply yet – perhaps the pack had already fallen into disuse and is having to be looked for – but I hope it will be found and made available to the new trustees.

    Neil also suggests “a (voluntary) facilitator… to set ground rules, etc,” especially at the beginning of the meeting. Neil, I think this has to be the responsibility of the new Chair and suggests it’s vital for the new Board to elect someone who’s experienced at chairing voluntary bodies. This would be something the new trustees could discuss by email before their first meeting. (And, no, I’m not available to be Chair myself if elected – it would take more time than I have.)

    • Judith Palmer permalink
      September 9, 2011 11:29 pm

      Hello. We’ll have trustee induction packs ready to hand out at the AGM (and email to any not present) together with a draft agenda for the first board meeting.

      • September 10, 2011 4:45 pm

        Thanks Judith, that’s very helpful.

        Stephen Irwin

  7. September 8, 2011 11:48 am

    I quite agree with Michael (as well as what Stephen has suggested). When this whole process started with the EGM, we the Members wanted to find out what was going on, and once the facts came out, the goals became reinstating Judith Palmer and getting things back on track prior to April, the latter being achieved through both the reinstatement of Judith and the election of a new Board. Judith is now once again the Director, so it seems one of the first tasks (if not “the”) of the new Board is to ensure the implantation of the programme that secured the Poetry Society the increased funding in the first place. The funding will follow suit.

    A lot has been said here about the transparency of the new Board and restoring the reputation of the Society, but I feel for all of us Nominees, that goes without saying—none of us have any intention of repeating the mistakes of the outgoing Board (and we’re fools if we think as new Trustees we’ll be able to take matters into our own hands). But I have to ask: aside from this horrendous error of judgement and poor, poor decision-making during the spring and summer, were there any complaints in the previous months or recent years about the outgoing Board? I’m not defending them—I strongly voted for the vote of no confidence at the EGM—but before all this, there was silence: nothing but the glad promotion of the Society’s achievements: celebrating its centenary with the National Trust, National Poetry Day events, Knit-a-Poem, annual competitions, sponsored talks at poetry festivals, annual lecture, etc. So, from my perspective (and I may be naïve here, I admit), the Society (and the Board) seemed to be smoothly-sailing…until April.

    I guess what I’m saying is…I don’t feel it’s going to take much for the new Board, who are going to be very cooperative with Judith & her programme, to get everything back on track. If the Society has been flying high, I can’t see that its reputation has been that badly damaged. That’s what PR and the media are for—to show the Society is now right as rain and going strong. Plenty of the 32 Nominees have had experience with governance, finance, charities, non-profit organizations, ACAS, HR, etc. that I’m not worried. The new Board will do well, and the Society will greatly benefit.

  8. Michael Schmidt permalink
    September 8, 2011 9:30 am

    Because it is induction day for my new M Litt students at Glasgow, I will miss the meeting on the 14th. I regret this. I do hope that the new board will concentrate less on second-guessing the Arts Council, who want solutions to come from the Society, and more on sorting out the governance issues which precipitated the crisis. This mess was not of the Arts Council’s making, and its solution will not come from the Arts Council but from the new board. The independence of clients is what has made the literature ‘sector’ vigorous. I believe the Arts Council will respond promptly and positively to strong and effective governance and to a decisive implementation of the programme they agreed to support when it was originally submitted.

    • Paul Ranford permalink
      September 8, 2011 11:18 am

      I agree with Michael’s views here, especially that the crisis was not of ACE’s making.

      Simply to add that there is no need to “second guess” the Arts Council. Their requirements are clearly laid out in documents now made available to us (and provided on this site in the Information/Docs folder).

      The crisis will not be over until ACE decides that it is appropriate to restore grant funding to the Society, and that will not happen simply because a new Board is in place. They will want to see evidence that their concerns are met over a period of time.

      So yes to strong and effective governance, and to implementing the agreed programme of work (for which the Society’s financial reserves will have to be utilised in the short term). But to maintain longer-term programme ambitions,yes also to satisfying the clear requirements of ACE.

  9. September 7, 2011 6:33 pm

    I am delighted to be nominated for the Poetry Society Board but regret that I won’t be able to attend the meeting on 14 September because it clashes with a performance by young poets that I am producing at a private event for the Wellcome Trust. These poets were involved in Evolving Words which emerged from my work with poets at the Roundhouse.

  10. Stephen Irwin permalink
    September 6, 2011 4:37 pm

    I would like to suggest one or two things ahead of the election next week, which might help the new Board get a flying start. None of us who are candidates know who will be elected, but it doesn’t matter, the problems will be the same. There will inevitably be a lack of continuity, and a need to act pretty quickly to restore confidence.

    First, the new trustees will need good full information. As I understand it, some meetings of the old Board were confidential and minutes were not circulated to staff, on occasion including the Director. That can be necessary, but should be rare. However, there can be nothing confidential from the new Board, who assume legal and financial responsibility immediately on election. Hence, the existing trustees have a duty to inform the new Board fully from the start. It would be a great help if the existing trustees, through the acting Chair, could ensure that all minutes of the Board, including confidential minutes, are ready for the new trustees as soon as they are elected on 14th September, so they can read their way in before the first meeting on the 21st.It would also be very helpful for te new Board to have a hand-over report from the Acting Chair. That would not need to be long, but could be very useful on the over-view and the essentials.

    Since there will be no Chair between 14th and 21st (because the new Board will have to elect one), the Director will have to draft the agenda, but it would again be helpful if a draft could be given to those elected on 14th. That needn’t be written in stone, but will give focus.

    The new Board will be wise to be as open and transparent as possible. Confidence will come back more quickly and fully in the new Board makes that clear from the beginning, and if there is a clear direction of travel. Of course it will be necessary to respect genuinely confidential information coming from the old trustees, the Director, the Journal Editor or indeed any staff member. The new Board will need to bottom out what people are really saying if matters are to be resolved. However, I would suggest it would help openness if the Director were to issue a short statement after the first meeting of the new trustees, and having a draft tabled at that meeting would be good.

    Good luck to whoever is elected!

    • Laurie Smith permalink
      September 7, 2011 8:19 am

      I support all Stephen’s suggestions. Whoever is elected, the Society will be in the unprecedented situation of having a completely new Board which will have to work together quickly and effectively under ACE’s watchful eye. Stephen’s suggestions will help with this and I hope the Director and Acting Chair will put them into effect.

    • Tim Turnbull permalink
      September 7, 2011 9:06 am

      In addition, Stephen, Laurie, the old Board needs to remember to hand over the gmail account they’ve been using for correspondence. I did contact them about it and suggest they should have a Society email address. Emma Bravo informed me it was only a temporary measure but I note it hasn’t been changed. It’s a small thing but it needs sorting.

    • Martin Alexander permalink*
      September 7, 2011 3:59 pm

      I too support Stephen’s suggestions and agree with Laurie that if as much of this as possible is in place by the 14th, the new Trustees will be able to get straight to work.

      Following from Tim’s point, I know from my own experience that the Acting Chair sometimes used her separate, personal account for Poetry Society correspondence and perhaps this – the PoSoc correspondence – should also be made available.

      • Neil Reeder permalink
        September 8, 2011 8:41 am

        I too agree with Stephen’s points, and have a few other suggestions on preparation for that initial trustee meeting.

        Firstly, if there is any feedback on specific issues and suggestions of the Arts Council it’s better to know sooner rather than later.

        Second, if not in hand already, it would be good if someone could be tasked to collate a few examples of good practice in governance, so that the discussions have something to build on.

        Third, because it’s such a blank slate situation, I think a (volunteer) facilitator would play a positive role, even if just at the beginning, to set ground rules etc.

  11. September 2, 2011 12:59 pm

    Thank you for providing a forum for candidates to provide more information about their reasons for standing. My 200 words were drafted (many times!) to try to cover all the elements the guidance said it should address. Inevitably it was difficult to go into depth into any one aspect. Here are my reasons for deciding to stand (in no particular order).

    • I want to help. The Society was in trouble and I didn’t know at that time if many people would want to stand given the negative and in some cases unfair publicity. I do know I would have regretted not standing had few candidates come forward.

    • My career for the past twenty years has been in Financial Services. I am a qualified Financial Advisor though most of my career has been in Compliance. In particular, I helped interpret regulatory and statutory requirements to find workable polices and procedures for organisations. I hope this skill would be valuable to the Society.

    • I have some experience as a trustee of a local community arts organisation having served two years on the board of a local community operatic society.

    • I have previously served union members on two national councils during my time at Halifax and Abbey National. Though it is some time ago, I have some experience at mediation and grievance resolution and some background knowledge of HR issues and procedures.

    • I am primarily a performance poet and I feel it would be beneficial for all expressions of poetry to be represented on the board.

    • I am also a poetry promoter and organiser. I have grass roots knowledge about getting a regular event off the ground, promoting, funding, building an audience etc.

    • I live in Milton Keynes and I have a good knowledge of the Poetry scene in the Midlands and I feel it would be beneficial to have wide a geographical spread represented on the board.

    There may well be more qualified candidates in terms of governance and if so, I wouldn’t begrudge your vote going to them. I would however welcome the opportunity to serve the membership by devoting my energy and enthusiasm to the board.

    Mark Niel

  12. August 31, 2011 1:41 am

    i have wordled all the applications so that they can be analysed for hidden meanings and vision. see them at

    • August 31, 2011 1:47 am

      What a great idea – now we’ll all have our cunning plans and devious characters exposed!

  13. Admin - Martin permalink*
    August 28, 2011 9:13 pm


    A complaint was made by one of the candidates that eleven of the statements made on the proposal forms exceeded the 200 words requested. The candidate, Bryan Owen, regarded this as a material failing.

    It seems that the complaint precipitated a decision to delete words in excess of 200. This perhaps explains why eleven statements end with three dots in the middle of a sentence. It also seems likely that because of the printing and postal deadlines, it may not have been possible to inform candidates and members of this decision in the mailing.

    You might like to read the post on this site by Bryan Owen, in which he explains why he made the complaint and why he has decided to withdraw his candidature. Other candidates and Members may wish to express their thoughts on this by responding to the post.

    Those who have exceeded the 200 word limit may wish to extend the truncated text; some have already done so, and the remainder are invited either to post the whole thing themselves, or to send their unabridged statements to the administrator of this site at this address: Martin@Alexander.Org.

  14. Admin - Martin permalink*
    August 27, 2011 2:39 pm

    Cary Archard

    I understand that Cary Archard has been called away on urgent family business and has therefore not been able to submit his statement. We hope to have something from him soon.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Information not provided
    Proposed by: Lynne Hjelmgaard, Dannie Abse, Paul Ranford

    (Updated 13/9/11 – Cary Archard has withdrawn his candidature.)

  15. Laurie Smith permalink
    August 26, 2011 6:09 pm

    Remembering the last crisis

    Judith Palmer’s reinstatement and the election of a new Board suggest that, with hard work and goodwill, the present problems will be solved. But I don’t think this means the Society will be safe for the future. Serious problems have happened before and I believe they are likely to happen again unless the Society’s constitution is reformed. The previous crisis was quite different – it involved property and was financially more damaging though it didn’t cause so much upset and bad publicity – but it arose from the same cause.

    For most of its history the Society’s offices were a fine early Victorian house at
    21 Earls Court Square (a legacy, I believe) with four storeys, basement and garden, elegantly proportioned rooms for readings and meetings, and a balustraded balcony overlooking the square. By the 80s the Society was gradually making a loss on its activities and no money was put aside for repairs and maintenance. By 1990 there was a £70k overdraft and the Board persuaded a reluctant AGM there was no alternative to selling the building and buying somewhere cheaper (though there were other options as better financial advice would have shown).

    In early 1992 the Board sold 21 Earls Court Square for £525k and bought the current shop in Betterton Street overpriced at £400k. Most of the balance went on paying off the overdraft, legal fees and removal costs. At the end the Society was left with a profit of only £13k. 21 Earls Court Square, ironically named The Poets’ House, is now worth millions.

    In this previous crisis and the present one, the Board no doubt thought it was acting in the Society’s best interests, but failed from lack of experience and proper professional advice. Poetry Society trustees are usually elected for their interest in poetry and may have little or no experience of governing a voluntary organisation or of being a charity trustee. They therefore need to be guided by a modern tightly-written constitution.

    The Society’s constitution is still largely in its 1923 form and is more appropriate to a private members’ club than a national organisation. It’s overlong (91 clauses with numerous subclauses) so that important matters can be forgotten or ignored and it omits several vital issues. I believe the constitution needs reforming to make it fit for a modern mass-membership organisation, otherwise I feel sure problems will happen again some time in the future. We need a well-run Society whoever the trustees are, not crises of governance every so often (I’d better not start on the EGM of 1978…).

  16. Admin - re John Siddique permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:16 pm

    John Siddique

    I gratefully acknowledge and accept this nomination. The Poetry Society has been through turbulent times of late and now needs some clear-sightedness and passion to move forward, to serve the interests of both poetry and the membership well. As a writer I have dedicated my life to the cause of literature, and firmly believe that it is an essential part of both the inner and outer life. The Society’s aim, to promote the enjoyment and understanding of poetry, is very much something I share. For twenty years I worked to bring the rewards of poetry to people of all ages in schools, in colleges, universities, in prisons and through collaborative ventures, often with the support of the Poetry Society. Within my own writing I have published a good-sized body of work (four full adult poetry collections, one children’s book, and co-wrote the memoir, Four Fathers). I am very much of the opinion that literature is for all, and have used a variety of media in order to widen access to new and marginalised readers. If voted onto the board I happily bring these skills with me. I also am well known for a certain brass-necked quality when it comes to…

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Catherine Smith, Ian Duhig, Angel Dahouk
    Location: Yorkshire

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  17. Admin - re Jon Sayers permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:13 pm

    Jon Sayers

    I am a long-term member of the Poetry Society and have over 25 years’ experience as a copywriter and Creative Director in leading London advertising agencies. I also successfully ran my own agency for some years, whose clients included British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, Food Standards Agency, Prison Reform Trust, the NHS, and the Labour Party. We worked across all media to help these organisations attract awareness, funds and members. Commercial clients included HSBC and Standard Chartered Bank. I now consult for advertising agencies and train copywriters in the UK and abroad. A long-term reader and writer of poetry, I am about to start an MA in Creative Writing at Goldsmiths, specialising in poetry, giving me a dual perspective on education, as both student and teacher. I have also taught creative writing at Pentonville Prison as a volunteer, and led seminars for MPs and their staff at the House of Commons on improving communications with constituents. I am based in central London, near the Society’s headquarters, and live part-time in Hastings, affording me a non-Londoner’s perspective, too. I would now like to put my experience in business, marketing, communications, fundraising, and education at the service of the Poetry Society.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Patricia Hann, Kate White, Christine Webb
    Location: London

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  18. Admin - re Ruth O'Callaghan permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:11 pm

    Ruth O’Callaghan

    Hawthornden Fellow, tutor, mentor, reviewer, interviewer and adjudicator of international poetry competitions, Art by Offenders (Koestler Trust ) schools competition etc. Hosting two poetry venues, whose ethos is to promote poetry’s social dimension, enables both famous and unknown to read together with proceeds contributing approximately 65-70% of monies necessary to support two Cold Weather Shelters for the Homeless – the latter are also encouraged to participate – and frequent contact with publishers/editors and poets. I serve on the committee of Second Light that promotes poetry for women over forty. My prior professional life included Chairing an organisation enabling development of educational services for the visually impaired. Translated into six languages, I have read extensively in Asia, Europe and the USA, have collaborated with other disciplines and nationalities including Mongolian women poets (sponsored by Arts Council) which produced a book and CD and am poetry advisor to a Nobel Prize nominee. I was awarded a Heinrich Böll residency in Eire and a gold medal in Taiwan. I’ve studied with the Poetry School for over ten years, have three collections – Goater’s Alley published March 2010 has been re-printed twice. Am working on fourth collection and a book of interviews with eminent women poets.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Depends on situation
    Proposed by: Leah Fritz, David Morley, Maureen Duffy
    Location: London

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  19. Admin - re Mira Mehta permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:08 pm

    Mira Mehta

    I am a long-standing member of the Society. In 2004 I successfully campaigned, with others, to stop members being disenfranchised by the then Trustees. The recent vote of no confidence in the Trustees indicates a continuing problem in the relationship between the Trustees, Director and members. I believe this relationship needs constitutional clarification within an over-arching vision for the Society. Concomitant with governance issues I would like policy issues reconsidered, particularly respect for traditional versifying alongside modern. I believe the Society is not sufficiently representative. It does not encompass the view – as exemplified by Stephen Fry’s “The Ode Less Travelled” – that poetry involves technical skill in addition to imagination. This view is mainstream, linking to past masters, and should be included in the Society’s education remit, journal and competition. I have authored a poetry collection and teach poetics. I run a Yoga school and have written four textbooks. I have 10 years’ experience as Secretary to a charity with a thousand members (Iyengar Yoga Institute), and was involved in drafting its constitution. I have been involved in teaching, teacher-training and curriculum issues for decades and have served on the advisory board of an American Yoga magazine.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Adrian Brown, Lance Pierson, Dennis Evans
    Location: London

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  20. Admin - re Rachel McCarthy permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:05 pm

    Rachel McCarthy

    The Poetry Society is, and rightly so, an exceptionally varied organization representing many different poetic tastes. We members trust it to serve our collective interests; to push for excellent poetry education, publish exceptional verse and promote the value of poetry in wider society. When any of these aims are at variance is when the institution most relies on good guidance. Our recent EGM showed that the Society’s future relies on good governance. As a scientific advisor to the Government, informing MPs and the public alike, I use every day the skills that the Society so urgently needs: objective, evidence-based decision making, responsible communication, transparency, fairness and good judgement. I also used such skills to establish, and continue to run, the Society’s largest Stanza, ExCite Poetry, recently featured on BBC Radio 4. A Trustee of any large charity takes on great and time-consuming responsibilities in the public eye; especially when there has been a crisis in governance. If elected, my first task would be to review decision-making procedures and establish thorough guidelines on governance and communications accordingly, to establish a Society which can deliver its stated goal: to further the use and enjoyment of poetry in the UK.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Ann Gray, Tony Frazer, Ruth Padel
    Location: Exeter

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  21. Admin - re Edward Mackay permalink*
    August 26, 2011 2:02 pm

    Edward Mackay

    I am a reader and writer of poetry published in journals and anthologies with a forthcoming pamphlet. I was shortlisted for the Picador Poetry Prize and an Eric Gregory Award. However, this is not why I would be – and over recent weeks I hope have been – a useful addition to the board. As one of the three trustees co-opted in the immediate aftermath of the EGM, I have brought conflict resolution and charity administration skills, developed as the current Director of a mediation charity – to bear on unravelling the serious errors in the governance of the Poetry Society since April. As a responsible employer I am well versed in charity and employment law. I manage an organisation that delivers services effectively and economically through the receipt of charitable grants and by winning and maintaining service delivery contracts. I have experience as a trustee of three charities and as a senior staff member in two. I would bring these skills and my active involvement in poetry to bear on the urgent need for constitutional reform, organisational and governance review, and strategic planning in order to enable all the committed and talented staff to continue and extend their extraordinary work.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Tamar Yoseloff, Parisa Ebrahimi, Robyn Marsack
    Location: London

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  22. Admin - re Elizabeth Lynch permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:58 pm

    Elizabeth Lynch

    As an arts producer and educator I work with artists, young people and communities, particularly those who are disengaged from both mainstream and alternative arts and culture. Working with poets has been a significant part of this interdisciplinary work, which embraces the performing and visual arts, creative and broadcast media. Recently I was commissioned by Wellcome Trust to produce Evolving Words for Darwin200, which brought together poets, scientists and young people in six UK cities. I admire the Poetry Society’s education and outreach work and would enjoy bringing my skills and energy to expanding its reach, especially through digital technology.

    I have developed pioneering creative organisations that place young people’s participation at the heart of their vision: founding Director of the flagship arts centre for young people at the Roundhouse 2001-8; established Tower Hamlets Summer University as brand leader for summer learning for 12-25 year olds when Director 1996-2001.

    Adept at brokering cross-sector and inter-disciplinary partnerships, managing diverse interests and complex budgets, I liaise regularly with funders such as ACE, private trusts and foundations. I currently work with a range of arts companies on strategic development, policy, fundraising and evaluation.

    As a theatre director I have worked in the UK and South Asia. In 2002, I was awarded a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Award by Tower Hamlets for an “exceptional contribution to youth and culture in the borough.” FRSA and Chair of the Board for The Arts Catalyst.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Valerie Laws, Rob La Frenais, Paul Ranford
    Location: London

  23. Admin - re Helen Jagger Wood permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:56 pm

    Helen Jagger Wood

    In Cornwall I support emerging local poets and poetry lovers as co-ordinator of Camelford Poetry Stanza (since 2005), the weekly Indian King Poets, public readings, Open Mics, and workshops – sometimes with painters as in the PS Centenary project ‘Great Trees of Cornwall’. I fund-raised then project-managed the restoration of a derelict three-storey Grade II-listed building as a small community arts centre, The Indian King (1994-2004), which received ACE funding for its poetry programming, including annual festival with poet in community residence. I taught English for 12 years, from Sussex to Scotland, Yorkshire to Cornwall latterly as Head of English at Camelford’s comprehensive school. I have a PGCE (Goldsmiths, distinction, 1980), and an M.A. in English (Cambridge, IIi, 1979). I am working on my first poetry collection, am a peer advocate in mental health, and a garden designer. I believe my experience of promoting poetry in formal education and in the community (teaching, fundraising, managing volunteers, audience development) may be of use to the Society. I seek election with a desire to create a more harmonious future after recent apparent mismanagement of events, as well as to give a voice to members living outside London, and in remote rural areas.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Kate Compston, John Fanshawe, Caroline Carver
    Location: Cornwall

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  24. Admin - re Khadijah Ibrahiim permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:53 pm

    Khadijah Ibrahiim

    Jamaican parentage, born in Leeds, England. Educated at the University of Leeds, I hold a BA(Hons) in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies, and an MA in Theatre Studies. I’m a published poet, live artist, and the artistic director of Leeds Young Authors, executive director of ‘Voices of a New Generation’, a Youth Poetry Slam and Youth Literature Festival. My role as director with LYA is highlighted through the projects achievements – most recently, winning the Sheffield Doc fest Youth Jury Award for best film documentary for ‘We Are Poets’ In 2010 I was a recipient of the El Gouna International Writers Residency in Egypt, and toured South Africa and the UK with the British Council as part of the Verbalized Poets tour. In 2005, I was a delegate for the Arts Council of England (Yorkshire) at the Calabash International Literature Festival in Jamaica. I led a workshop as part of the SLAMbassadors and BBC blast online slam programme and acted as a consultant on the Young Poets’ Network. I have over 20 years of experience of the working in the arts and representing organisations including; Leeds Women’s Aid, Sahara Black Women’s Refuge, Carriage Works Theatre Leeds and Leeds City Council.

    Poetry Society member? No
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Yes
    Proposed by: Paul Ranford, Peter Daniels, Kate Clanchy
    Location: Yorkshire

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  25. Admin - re Robert Hutchison permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:50 pm

    Robert Hutchison

    Poetry has been one of the main pleasures of my life and I want to help ensure that more people have the chance to appreciate poetry of all kinds and to enjoy it. I have successfully chaired two registered charities and – as the former Chief Executive of a Regional Arts Board – have some insights into what makes for effective leadership and good governance in arts organisations. I founded the Wilfred Owen Association and helped to organise three weekends of events to celebrate the centenary of Wilfred Owen’s birth. I have also been a publisher of poetry and produced poetry programmes on the BBC. My interests span both the arts and politics and I would bring wide experience of management and leadership, of fundraising and communications, to the role of Trustee. Having worked for five years as Senior Research Officer at the Arts Council, I know a bit about how it works. I am keen to see the Poetry Society stable, well led, well funded and well managed. The Society has done great work, and should, with good governance, expand its roles and influence.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Kate Clanchy, Paul Ranford, Iain Stewart
    Location: Hampshire

    (Taken from the Poetry Society website)

  26. Claudia Daventry permalink
    August 26, 2011 1:45 pm

    Claudia Daventry

    Revised Statement / Experience in no more than 200 words:

    After my first degree (in French and Spanish, Oxford), I trained as an advertising account exec, practising teamwork, management, PR, presentation skills, market strategies, research/planning and creative effectiveness. If elected, I would hope to draw on these skills, which have served me well through my working life and which I use now to run my own small business. I moved over to the purely creative side where I continued work on big bluechip accounts, where balancing creativity/effectiveness with budget and client needs is crucial. I worked both freelance and on the payroll as a creative for several years, eventually settling in Amsterdam. Here I left the boardroom for my family, translation and poetry.

    I’ve since attended courses, slammed, done sets on the performance circuit, given readings around Europe, taught, read my poetry on the radio and won some prizes and nominations (amongst which Bridport and Arvon). I moved in 2007 to St Andrews to take the MLitt with Don Paterson and Douglas Dunn. I’m now researching my PhD at St Andrews and part-time teaching at a local school, along with raising sponsorship for charity. Since my move to Scotland I’ve been on the committee of StAnza, the Scottish poetry festival.

    Mission: (additional words; uncounted)

    Obviously, a committee is a committee, and while I would hope every member would have individual skills and opinions on how to move things forward, I would feel reluctant to state a fully-fledged mission without first having the opportunity to sit around a table with those involved and hear at first hand the issues at stake.

    I hope it is enough to say I’m committed to the study, teaching and enjoyment of poetry and believe it should be genuinely accessible to all. I hope – while personally I feel the Poetry Review should remain the quality quarterly it has become under the editorship of Ms Sampson – the Poetry Society will not be seen only as an élite institution, but rather as the reliable, trustworthy ‘BBC’ of poetry. I would thoroughly support fundraising and outreach work to bring poetry of all kinds back to the everyday, to further the translation of poetry into and out of English, and to help restore to it some of the respect and relevance to people’s lives it has had in the past – and still enjoys in other countries around the world.

    I was not originally intending to stand as a Nominee – I’m a Joe Member, not a name, and I certainly don’t feel the need simply to ‘be a Trustee’. However I believe I could, and know I would like to take an active part in helping rebuild the Society’s credibility and professional face. I am experienced, an educator, have marketing/creative and presentation skills and, like everyone else, am committed to poetry. I have over the years and through my travels built up some good and relevant contacts. I am prepared to make the time. I thank my proposers Alan Buckley, Lyn Moir and George Szirtes for their confidence.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: George Szirtes, Lyn Moir, Alan Buckley
    Location: Fife
    (updated by admin 1st Sept 2011)

  27. Admin - re Tom Bell permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:40 pm

    Tom Bell

    I’ve been involved in poetry for six years. I’m a member of Thameside Poetry Workshop in Greenwich and a Poetry School student. All my life I’ve been active in a variety of organisations, accumulating considerable experience. Originally an electrician, my main experience has been in trade unions. I’ve been with the media, entertainment and arts union BECTU for eighteen years, where I’m a senior paid Official. It’s mostly the skills gained in my job that I could contribute to the Society. These are: Negotiation: with organisations ranging from the BBC to companies engaging individual freelancers. The point is always to seek agreement and solve problems. A problem is an opportunity looked at from the wrong direction. Management: I manage a division of 7,600 BECTU members, with a small team of Officials. Organisation: I’m responsible for various internal committees and conferences. Communication: with our members, our industry and media. In these difficult times I could bring this experience to the Society. The new Council must take stock, and develop ideas to open the Society more; to its own membership and the outside world. Electing the GC in a secret ballot of all members is an essential start.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Kate Clanchy, Sue Rose, Jan Bay-Petersen
    Location: London

    (Details taken from the Poetry Society’s website)

  28. Admin - re Shanta Acharya permalink*
    August 26, 2011 1:34 pm

    Shanta Acharya has been a life member of the Poetry Society since the mid-1980s. She was a member of General Council in the mid-1990s, responsible for securing a substantial donation for the Society. She has served on the Arvon Foundations’ Development Council, and was on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry School when it was founded. She was born in India, educated at Oxford and Harvard, and worked in education and finance. A poet and literary critic, she has five published collections of poetry. As founder of Poetry in the House, at Lauderdale House, London, hosting monthly poetry events since June 1986 on a voluntary basis, Shanta has made a significant contribution to poets and live poetry. At London Business School, she ran a professional development programme for the charity sector. If elected, she believes her passion for poetry and experience in finance, fund-raising, governance and administration will be an asset to the Society. Her integrity, independence, thoughtful and inclusive approach, ability to bring people together will serve her well as a trustee. Shanta aims to strengthen the Society’s commitment to excellence, diversity, equity, transparency, while fostering the enjoyment of poetry, enabling a wider range of voices to be heard by even larger audiences.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Carole Satyarmurti, Martyn Crucefix, Kavita Jindal
    Location: London

    To all members of the Poetry Society

    At this critical point in the life of the Society, my message to all members – who I very much hope will elect to vote and make their views count – is as follows:

    The Society needs to demonstrate good governance for ACE to consider releasing funds. It is not a given, the Society has to prove itself first. The new Board needs independent trustees with the appropriate skills to work together for the long term benefit of the Society. As there are significantly more nominations than vacancies, many will not be elected. One can only hope that the elected Board has the right balance of skills.

    My name is there simply because I offer a range of skills – past experience of trusteeship, knowledge of the world of poetry, experience in finance, education, governance, fund raising and administration. Like others, I have views about how the Society’s governance could be strengthened. It is timely perhaps to share my ideas.

    1. The new Board should aspire to have at least twelve members with a minimum of two trustees with experience in each of these fields – Legal and HR/ Finance & Accounting/ Marketing and Sales/ Policy and Advocacy.

    2. Create subcommittees – initially from members of the Society with very specific skills who are willing to help the Society but may not have the time to be trustees. The subcommittees should consist of i/ Appointments Committee to deal with legal and HR issues; ii/ Finance Committee for finance and accounting matters; iii/ Development Committee for events, fund raising, marketing and sales; iv/ Policy Committee to deal with matters of policy and advocacy. With 34 nominations and 12 vacancies, those not able to garner enough votes could perhaps still offer their services within subcommittees, whose main objective will be to assist the Board in fulfilling its fiduciary duty.

    3. There is strong feeling among members about the role of the Editor of the Poetry Review. The issue of the permanent contract needs to be revaluated. This is not top priority, but it has to be addressed. Involvement of the membership in this assessment would be essential. Personally, I do not believe in permanent contracts – my view is based on a fundamental belief that as a publicly funded body, the Society needs to ensure its support for a broad range of excellence, which is better achieved by rotating the editorship.

    4. I also believe strongly in greater transparency.

    These are some of my thoughts for review by Society members. I cannot emphasize enough that my views are based on deeply held principles of equity and fairness, excellence and diversity. I have no other motive except the desire to see the Society thriving, an institution with policies based on probity, fairness, excellence and diversity. To find out more about my work/ background, contribution to poets and poetry, and my experience in finance, the charity sector, and governance issues, please visit:

  29. Heather Neill permalink
    August 23, 2011 4:49 pm

    I was a member of the Poetry Society Board for four years in the 1990s. Until 2003 I was Arts Editor of The Times Educational Supplement and before that Arts and Literary Editor. I ran a Young Poet of the Week column with established poets who commented on young people’s work (some of this published in book form) and for a number of years provided media support for the Foyle Young Poets Prize. I also ran a creative writing competition for school students, Write Away. As a journalist I have contributed to most of the broadsheets (most often The Times, for which I interviewed, among many others, Ted Hughes). Nowadays, I write mainly about theatre, reviewing for The Stage and contributing to programmes (e.g National Theatre ones). I also interview for, a radio website and chair events and lead discussions at Shakespeare’s Globe. Previous committee experience: member of education committees of both the Arvon Foundation and the Globe, chair of Globe’s Publications Committee. Current member of Globe Council.
    I am an admirer and supporter of the Poetry Society (eg I organised an event with Po Soc last year), applaud its work, especially in education, and would like to do whatever I can to help it to recover from this very upsetting period.

    I am delighted to have been nominated by Paul Ranford, Laurie Smith and Kate Clanchy.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Question not answered
    Proposed by: Paul Ranford, Laurie Smith, Kate Clanchy
    Location: London

  30. anne permalink
    August 23, 2011 1:52 pm

    The current strategy document can be found here as Appendix 8 on the General Meetings page of the official Poetry Society website.

    • Paul Ranford permalink
      August 23, 2011 2:39 pm

      Hi Anne

      Just to note (for the avoidance of confusion) that the “strategy document” made available with the EGM papers was produced, rather quickly and mainly by the Acting Chair, immediately prior to the EGM. It does not represent the settled strategy of the Society, which is (far) better articulated in the Plan that was prepared by the Director, agreed by the Board and submitted to ACE in January 2011. The publication of that will be a matter for the Director – events have somewhat overtaken things recently.

      I would observe that the “Strategy Document” available through that link is more of a list of current activities, the “strategy” being “more of the same”.


      • anne permalink
        August 23, 2011 2:54 pm

        Thanks, Paul. That’s a very helpful clarification!

  31. Michael Schmidt permalink
    August 23, 2011 1:11 pm

    If I am elected, my responsibility as a trustee will be to look closely at the present situation, the plans and numbers of the Society and, where I can, to offer advice and practical assistance to the Director and her staff in rebuilding the programme and the Society’s structure. The first task is to assess the financial and other damage done, to see how it can most effectively be repaired, and to make sure that it does not go forward or recur.

    The retiring Board has called for an investigation into the causes of the crisis. This is a priority if history is not to repeat itself. Truth and, where possible, reconciliation.

    It would be disorienting for new trustees to come in with lots of plans to redefine the Society’s procedures and redraw its objectives, though it will want to restore those areas in which approved procedures and objectives broke down. The Arts Council and other funding bodies approved the programme proposed by the Director in the Society’s ACE application. It is that programme the new trustees must support. A time for new initiatives, for thinking outside the box, may come. But there has to be a solid box before thinking outside can usefully be undertaken. The new Board should have as its first objective to see the Society safely back on the rails. It should also be acutely aware that the Society works within certain non-negotiable fiscal and legal frameworks.

    As a non-London member, I am keen on the Society’s plans for what Londoner’s sometimes call ‘the rest of England’. The programme the Director proposed, which the retiring Board agreed and ACE endorsed, is national. As a member or as a trustee I support its scope and (treacherous word) vision. Poetry Review is part and parcel of the Society’s creative policy.


    Statement on PoSoc form:

    The Poetry Society is integral to our poetry culture and, responding in recent years to its national mission, has contributed significantly to reader development and access. Its success under Judith Palmer in increasing its Arts Council and other funding and her sense of vision took it forward in a significant way. To restore it to working order and financial sustainability it needs a Board that will keep a close eye on its fiscal and organisational recovery. The Board will need to ask the right questions, even if they are hard ones. While looking forward, it must also identify the causes for the recent melt-down in order to make sure that such issues are strenuously avoided in future. If I am elected to the Board my main duty as a member will be to assess proposals, attend to the numbers, ask questions, and be a resource available to the Director for consultation. My experience as a publisher and editor, as a senior academic who has run writing programmes in three major universities, and with many hours of voluntary work in the poetry and educational sectors, are the qualifications I offer. As well as understanding the needs of poets, I have forty years experience running an Arts Council-funded organisation, and maintaining good relationships with funders.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Question not answered
    Proposed by: George B H Wightman, Deryn Rees-Jones and Ian McMillan*
    Location: London

    * Proposers names corrected – 29.8l.11

  32. Cheryl Moskowitz permalink
    August 23, 2011 9:14 am

    Thanks Eva, for inviting candidates to offer more particulars. With time so short before the elections I agree this is a good way to help members know who and what they are voting for with such a rich mix (as you say) to choose from. I certainly believe that the Society must have an organ through which it maintains a relationship with members and with the wider world and that is what the Poetry Review has been and should continue to be. The question of rotating editorship and ‘thrust’ of the PR must now, of course, form a central part of discussions alongside all the other issues affecting the future of the Society. However these discussions must involve the Director, staff and, as far as possible, the entire membership. For this reason I agree with Charles Lauder and think the idea of conducting a proper Members Survey (soon) is a very good one. As a member of the Board of Trustees I would want to ensure that no such key decisions are taken without that kind of consultation. Certainly as Paul Ranford said in relation to live events, ‘the scale and scope of these is more properly a matter for the Director rather than the Trustees’, but like Paul I would want to feel, as part of the Board, that I could use my own experience as a poet with extensive experience of working in difficult and deprived areas of the community, to influence and actively encourage how and where these might take place. It would be wonderful if Po Soc headquarters, the Poetry cafe and such felt more like a living-room for members and that a lively exchange of ideas, poetry and information happened as much through Poetry News and Poetry Review as it did through Stanza groups around the country and the comings and goings of members through the actual doors of the Poetry Society. The tightness of space in the current premises may well have to be addressed if this is to become a real possibility. Above all, I would see my chief responsibility in the first instance, as a new incoming member of the Board, to be one of listening. Heavy handed executive decision making is not what is needed now. A gathering of strengths, restoring proper mandates to those in directing and managing positions and reestablishing a good, supportive working structure is.

  33. August 22, 2011 2:43 pm

    From Todd Swift

    Statement on PoSoc form:

    It is an honour to be nominated for this position by Lindsey Holland, Alice Willington, and Philip Gross. I believe I have the requisite skills in, and experience of, arts organisation, fund-raising, communication, and poetry, to serve as a Trustee. I was twice-elected at national level to be Quebec Representative for the League of Canadian Poets. I have raised tens of thousands of pounds for Oxfam via poetry projects which I coordinated, working with hundreds of emerging and established British poets. As a TV writer I created over 100 hours of produced episodes for HBO, Paramount, Fox, Hanna-Barbera and the CBC. I combine an interest in performance poetry with academic poetics: I co-edited the first North American anthology of slam poetry in the late 1990s, and lecture in English Literature and Creative Writing at Kingston University. I actively encourage and support poets of all ages in many styles and schools, across a variety of platforms. Poetry, I think, is one of the key aspects of human experience, in dialogue with philosophy, religion, politics, indeed all parts of life. The Poetry Society is and has been an invaluable part of the cultural landscape of Britain for some 100 years. I offer myself as a candidate of moderation. There is a need for reconciliation, clarity, and fairness. My goal is to help restore the Poetry Society to the position of high regard and trust it had before its current problems, so that it may progress creatively, in a spirit of goodwill and compromise. I believe we need to be ethical, practical, and transparent as Trustees, but also modest; and never hasty.

    Poetry Society member? No
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Lindsay Holland, Philip Gross, Alice Willington
    Location: London

  34. Neil Reeder permalink
    August 21, 2011 9:59 pm

    My name is Neil Reeder and I’ve put myself forward for the post of trustee. I’m independent of any faction, and have a background which includes policy advice, business planning, and bringing small charities from tricky times into stability.

    For me, short term the priority has to be to heal the wounds that are so evident – I hope the new board is much more considered and open to dialogue than the last.

    Once that’s achieved, I think the Society could speak with more confidence to promote the role that poetry can play in schools and later on in life – even, or perhaps especially, in the inner city areas where there’s a lack of hope.

    My short statement is as follows

    My career has been spent in making public services better, and I am currently employed as a public sector strategist at a charitable think-tank called the Young Foundation, which supports better ways of working in health, education and tackling unemployment.

    Business planning, finance and policy design are my main areas of expertise, gained from roles in organisations ranging from HM Treasury to London Transport. Further, in voluntary work as a trustee in two charities facing difficult times, I took chair and treasurer positions and used my abilities in diplomacy, analysis and determination to see them through to financial stability.

    There is another side to me! I have a long-standing interest in poetry from a creative writing course in Greece, where I was struck by its wonderful ability to reveal, evoke and dream. An occasional performance poet, my poems have since been published in The Rialto, Equinox and Soul Feathers.

    I rather doubt that General Council meetings will elicit the feelings that great poetry can. But I do believe I have much to offer in skills and experience, and successfully helping to put the Poetry Society back into shape would very much carry its own satisfactions.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Norbert Hirschhorn, Margaret Cox, Anna Robinson
    Location: London

  35. Eva Salzman permalink
    August 21, 2011 12:38 pm

    It’s a rich field of candidates. Anyone fancy offering a few more particulars?

    Firstly, any views on Poetry Review remaining integral to Poetry Society? As flagship presenting a range of British and Irish poetry, and (in my view) work from beyond these shores, to provide wider, international context. There’s the rotating editor question too…

    Secondly, I was dismayed at loss of Poet in the City program from PoetSoc auspices. Originally, the high-profile events within and for city law firms were meant to raise money to fund continuing program of workshops in inner-city, often deprived schools. Hey, jobs for poets too on top of good works! The frequent education work many of us used to get via PoetSoc seems thinner on ground, or maybe I’m just away more. (I can say more about history and fate of Poet in City, teaching for years as part of it, right from its inception.)

    Thirdly the question of hosting readings often comes up. I find it odd there isn’t a dedicated series of readings events apart from Open Mike readings: for one thing to get more people to building/cafe (and yes this includes the usual payment for services rendered, as one expects in any field!) I recall from my time on Board the decision to divert more money to education but still….Those with fund-raising experience; would you wish raise funds for any specific purpose or aspect off society?

    • Paul Ranford permalink
      August 21, 2011 5:19 pm

      I’ll have a go with a personal view, I hope others will join in.

      The publication of Poetry Review is central to, and one of the priority objectives of, the Society. The magazine is: (1) the Society’s flagship publication, named as such in the recent 3-year plan submitted to ACE. and (2) the single most significant benefit of membership that is actually delivered to most members.

      The magazine supports the Society’s offer; the Society supports the production, distribution and administration of the magazine. It provides an outlet for established and previously unpublished poets, and is an aspirational publication for young poets – for example those encouraged to develop their art after participating in the annual Foyle Young Poets of the Year competition. The staff are rightly proud of the publication.

      Poetry Review is integral to the Poetry Society and that’s that. It really can’t be anything else – indeed I’ve never heard anybody suggest otherwise. For the reasons above, I don’t think it’s a debate that can even kick off. This is the view I’d be happy to express and stand by, if elected.

      The question of whether the editorship should “rotate” once again should certainly be considered. A 3-year term of office was the norm previous to 2008, as I understand it – and most of the commentary I have heard (in these forums and elsewhere) throughout recent events has tended to support the view that the Editorship should not be a permanent appointment. I hold that view myself – it’s to do with recognising the diversity of styles and talent within the art, as much as any desire for change for its own sake – but I would bow to the views of poet members, from whom I would expect the Trustees to take soundings.

      I’m not familiar with the Poet in the City programme, so won’t get into the subject specifically. I understand it continues under its own steam, so opportunities presumably continue for poets. And education work will continue – as will hosted readings. There is no lack of live events (a good read of the last published accounts gives ample examples of activity during a 12-month period) – the scale and scope of these is more properly a matter for the Director rather than the Trustees, although I would expect the Board actively to encourage innovative programmes of work and continued event activity.

    • August 22, 2011 12:09 pm

      While I do recognize the diverse & talented poets that the Poetry Review publishes in each issue, I must be honest and say that PR is one source of grumbling among PS members in my area (the Midlands)—not that it’s a tone of sour grapes or that they feel PS members should automatically get their poems published in there, as that would automatically corrupt the journal’s editorial independence, but that they want the journal to capture them, to enthral them, to remind them how much they love poetry, but for many months now, the content has failed to do that. So given the impression that our membership fee is mainly going towards subscription of the PR, they feel quite let down. I agree with Paul Ranford that a rotating editorial position is a good policy to continue following and that the position should not be a permanent one.

      One of the things I would like to encourage if I were to be elected onto the Board would be a Members’ Survey, find out what the Members feel about the Society, what they like best about it, where they feel let down, what improvements would they like to see or suggest; get their opinions about Poetry News and Poetry Review; what additional events they would like to see the Society do. For members that live outside of the greater London area, I feel this would help make their voices heard in an organization that can be seen as being too London-centric. The results of the Survey would obviously be turned over to the Director and PS staff.

      I’m not familiar with the Poet in the City programme, but I’m very much in favor of such efforts to encourage poetry in education and in deprived areas. I’ve worked with Scouts for the past few years and know how important it is to be a guiding influence in the community for kids and to witness them reap the benefits.

      As for hosting readings, why not encourage these to occur in other parts of the country, as with the Stratford reading last year or the touring Annual Lecture this year? Likewise for poetry surgeries, which I know many poets would find very helpful: hold them in other cities other than London & Edinburgh.

    • Bert Molsom permalink
      August 22, 2011 12:39 pm

      The Poetry Review is, as Paul has said, the Society’s flagship, however one of the questions that could be raised is whether four issues a year is sufficient. I would like an increase to six to be considered, subject to the financial implications. This would increase the benefits to the Members and provide an increase in their involvement. The question of the optimum length of editorship is, I am sure, a very subjective subject but I do not believe it should be a permanent appointment. I believe that this should be one of the first issues to be addressed by the new Board.

      With regard to programmes that should be supported then I am firmly in the camp of supporting readings perhaps linking this with support for Stanzas – using the readings as a means of promoting the Society to a wider audience. Whilst I have no difficulty with the Poetry Cafe it would cost me £50+ to attend an event there living as I do in the north of Shropshire and I believe a number of our Members are in the same position.

      I would be interested in the geographical breakdown of our membership and the reasons why people do not renew their membership this information may help address the future of involving members more in the activities of the Society – from all parts of the country.

      • August 22, 2011 11:21 pm

        This thread throws up a number of interesting points. The first is the idea of separating the Review from the PS. I cannot think that makes sense. If the Review was hived off, it would be necessary to re-invent it. The PS has to have a journal publishing poetry and criticism. While Poetry News serves its function well, that is a different animal.
        The second is the focus or ambit of the Review. Most poetry journals can reflect the interests and style of the editor(s), but the Review has to serve a national society which is as broad as can be. It must be a difficult task to get right – to be broad enough without becoming anodyne, yet to keep vitality and bite. I have always enjoyed it and thought it was high quality.Maybe you can’t please all of the people all of the time. We should be tolerant of that. I would be interested to hear the Editor (and the Director) on the subject. It would be good to hear what the membership has to say about the journal, and about other services from the PS, although I would have expected that kind of sounding to have happened already, at least to some degree, during the formation of the 3 year plan.
        The third point is the editorship. A set term may be sensible, but at the moment, surely there is a high premium on stability. The PS needs to regain its stride, to demonstrate good governance and show a bit of confidence, and thus to revive the suspended funding streams. I have not been involved in any of the internal politics, but unless it is impossible to manage, I would have thought continuity was a real advantage.
        In the longer term, is rotating editorship not a recipe for muddle and cost? A term of years may be right, and could certainly give a decent run to a given editor, balanced against reasonably frequent new ideas and energy. What about an annual guest editorship of one issue? The technical side of the publication could be supported by the permanent editor, but an individual twist given to content. That would take a little pressure off the permanent editor, and ensure the Review saw different styles and choices. It might likely be possible to persuade major poets to take on a single issue, when they would not contemplate longer involvement. However, these are only ideas, and the Director and Editor will probably have thought about them all before: one would hope so.
        The fourth issue is the ‘London-centric’ perception. This has surfaced not only in this thread but in others, and I don’t think the concern is confined to the Review. I have sympathy with this. I think it resonates in cultural matters perhaps more than others. I remember feeling something like this very strongly as a youth in Ulster.
        It is not an easy problem to crack, but might be helped by [1] ensuring a good geographical spread of trustees [2] ensuring practical arrangements so that trustees living far from London can be lively and effective in their engagement [3]ensuring a decent spread of activities out of London [4] ensuring that the focus of the journals sometimes moves out of London: why not a periodic feature in the Review of poetry and writing from a given region? Poetry News might do the same, but looking regularly at the activities of stanzas and other poetry groups, local journals, and local publishing houses, all in a given region. Some of these steps would cost, but it must be right to spend reasonable sums to ensure that a national organisation does deal evenly with the whole country.
        Apologies if I am teaching my grandmother oral ovular evacuation.

        Stephen Irwin

  36. Martin - admin permalink*
    August 18, 2011 6:24 pm

    The list of Trustee nominations has been updated with links to statements posted on this site. Other statements posted here or published on the official Poetry Society site will be added as they appear.

  37. Isabel White permalink
    August 18, 2011 10:45 am

    Owing to holidays this is all a little bit last minute, for which I apologise. I attended the EGM and share everyone’s concerns about how the society is (not) being managed by its trustees and need say no more about that here. I am happy to stand for election and have filled in the form. I also have two proposers to date, but still need one more. I run my own fundraising consultancy business and have 23 years experience in raising grant income for over 130 not for profit organisations, many of them in the arts. This is of course alongside a passion for poetry. Those who wish to check me out can visit my website at In the meantime, if anyone cares to support me, they can email me via my website if they do not wish to do so through this forum. I believe I have a skill set that would be of value to the Society and have already served on many not for profit boards over the past decade and more. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Statement on PoSoc form:

    Recent events bring into sharp focus the need for strong governance and a broader range of skills for the board. I hope my broader fundraising skills and experience, particularly in bid writing and collaborative work, as well as my passion for poetry, can be of real and lasting benefit, were I to be elected to serve as a trustee. I founded my own NCVO Approved fundraising business in 1996, working in the public, private and voluntary sectors (over 130 clients in the UK and Europe, raising over £19m). My experience covers every discipline from the arts to welfare. I have also been a trustee of a number of public and voluntary organisations, and chair of a small grant making trust. I am a former stanza rep, and I write and perform regularly – in venues as diverse as Apples and Snakes, Brixtongue, Brighton Festival Fringe, and places as far afield as Bristol and Rotterdam. My work has been published in a number of journals, I have been poet in residence four times and I curated the poetry for “Up the Line” remembrance events in 2009/10, attracting audiences of over 700. My first collection “Death & Remembrance” was published in 2010.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Diana Pooley, Suzanna Fitzpatrick, Adam Taylor
    Location: London

    • August 18, 2011 2:47 pm

      Dear Isabel,

      I’d be happy to propose you, if it’s not too late – I’ve only just seen your post. I’ll send the details by email.


  38. Cheryl Moskowitz permalink
    August 18, 2011 8:10 am

    Last night, I posted my nomination form to the Poetry Society. I have done this with renewed enthusiasm since hearing the news that Judith Palmer has been reinstated in her role as Director. For the Society, which had become a ship without a captain fast in danger of sinking, Judith’s return is good news indeed. In the end, sitting on the sidelines was longer an option. The Society, under Judith Palmer’s continued directorship, needs a new board of Trustees who have the passion, patience, skills, honesty and insight to mend and move forward. Standing for election seemed the only responsible thing to do.

    Thank you to former finance officer Paul Ranford and fellow poets and educators, Wendy French and Carrie Etter for nominating me. Here is the 200 word statement I submitted with my nomination:



    I am a published poet, playwright and novelist writing for adults and children. I have thirty years experience facilitating creative writing projects in schools, prisons, hospitals, hospices, centres for the homeless and the elderly. Much of my work is as a mentor, enabling teachers, librarians, carers and health professionals to experience poetry for themselves and incorporate it into their work.

    I have represented the Poetry Society at national conferences (CILIP and NAWE) and on a number of key education projects: Poetry and Emotional Health, Poetryclass, Look North More Often, and the new Schools Network Education Package. I am passionate about the Society continuing and enhancing its education programmes.

    I have a Psychology BA, and trained in Dramatherapy, and Psychodynamic counselling. In 1996 I co-founded LAPIDUS (National Association for Literary Arts and Personal Development) and taught on the MA in Creative Writing and Personal Development at Sussex University from its inception in the same year.

    I have proven leadership and organisational skills and will bring insight and imagination. I’m standing as I feel we urgently need to restore the ACE’s (and indeed everyone’s) faith in the Society and to resume the excellent and essential work that it is justly renowned for.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Yes
    Proposed by: Paul Ranford, Wendy French, Carrie Etter
    Location: London

    additional post here.

  39. Martin Alexander permalink*
    August 18, 2011 12:28 am

    I’m Martin Alexander and I’ve also submitted my nomination to the Poetry Society, with thanks to Kate Clanchy, Victoria Cichy and Andy Ching for being kind enough to propose me as a Trustee.

    As an ordinary member who was dismayed by the resignations and rumours, I offered to help Kate by setting up this website to find out what on earth was happening to a beloved institution.

    My application to be a Trustee comes on the night when we heard the good news that Judith Palmer has been reinstated as Director.

    As you may already know, I had had no involvement with the Poetry Society before Kate Clanchy’s campaign, other than the quarterly encounters with the postman which every paid-up member anticipates with such excitement. I’m an ordinary member – unsullied (as yet) by the heady hot air of the much-vaunted factions – but I have lately been privy to most of what has been going on.

    My membership has been distant in other ways, too: as I say in my application, I have lived in Asia for the past twenty years or so. In that time, I’ve been lucky enough to meet and work with writers from the West and the East; to edit Heaney and to translate and publish the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo; to attend festivals throughout Asia, in Cairo and in Romania; and to have had my writing published, win small prizes and be translated into many languages.

    Coming into Britain from the outside, and finding myself suddenly at the centre of things, the events of the past couple of months have rather fired me up to do what I can to help restore the Society to the sort of thing I’ve always thought it was. It seems my sense of anxious outrage at the indignity of what has happened to a precious institution was shared by others, and I think we all tried to play our parts with a strong sense of the need for openness and integrity.

    It’s a bit of that that I would hope to bring to my contribution as a Trustee, should I be elected.

    I think Stephen Irwin, in his statement on this website, sums up what most of us feel: that the Society needs careful oversight and close engagement from its Trustees; that Trustees should be alert to the difference between oversight and interference in the work of professional staff; that they should be committed to and involved in the world and work of poetry; and that they should bring a sane sense of humour to the serious business ahead.

    Another comment on the site makes the suggestion that all poets are, in some way, mad. Though I wouldn’t insist on madness as a prerequisite in a Trustee, it is a quality that might also be characterised in terms of passion and a distinctive vision; of spontaneity, and of the unsettling experience of being both inextricably rooted in the human condition and sufficiently set apart to be able to articulate it with some artistic precision.

    And after all that, here are the 200 (or so) words I sent off this evening:


    Statement on PoSoc form:

    As a writer, editor and organiser, I think I can contribute positively to the Society. If I’m known at all in Britain, it’s as the person who recently set up and manages for Poetry Society Members. Until a year ago, though, I lived in Asia, where I have long been active in the Hong Kong poetry community and as poetry editor of the Asia Literary Review. Since the inception of the HK International Literary Festival I have brought in poets and managed poetry events. As an editor, I’ve published work from a wide range of poets, both internationally acclaimed and previously unpublished. I also work as a scriptwriter, translator and poet.

    In education, I have managed departments, chaired examination panels and have been directly involved in the management of conflict and change: as a union official, as a member of a school council and as a delegate to an international educational foundation. Though not much given to hubris or cliques, I am reasonably dependable, relatively sensible, a fairly receptive listener and generally good-humoured. Additional achievements include making the first detailed map of the Inca Road to the Lost City of the Incas. I can also stand on my head and ride a motorbike, though not at the same time.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Kate Clanchy, Andy Ching, Victoria Cichy
    Location: Oxfordshire


    If you’ve got this far but would prefer to read some really good writing, you might have a look at http://www.AsiaLiteraryReview.Com

  40. August 17, 2011 9:27 pm

    My name is Mark Niel and I am standing for election as a Trustee. I have been following events and discussions here and I am delighted that Judith Palmer has been reinstated. I hope we can take positive steps forward to restore the reputation of the Poetry Society.

    Here is my 200 word statement

    Mark has worked in financial services for the past twenty years. A qualified financial advisor and pension specialist, he has been a Compliance Officer for most of his career ensuring that regulatory and statutory standards are followed. Mark has also served as a union representative on two national councils and previously spent two years as a trustee and committee member of a local Operatic Society. He has been a Poetry Society member and organised Stanza activities in Milton Keynes since 2008.

    As a poet, Mark has won Poetry Slams including Wenlock, Bristol and Ledbury Poetry festivals. In 2008 Mark founded Tongue in Chic which hosts live events, organises showcases for Festivals and seeks to make a positive contribution to the poetry scene. Mark has had to learn quickly about funding, marketing, new social media, building an audience, running events, editing, publishing and effective networking.

    In January this year Mark organised a poets and promoters forum which brought people together to network and encourage joined up thinking across different geographical and artistic areas. Mark is keen to help the Society make positive steps forward during these challenging times and help to promote all forms of poetry.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? Yes
    Proposed by: Malcolm Dewhirst, Ian McEwen, Heather Wastie
    Location: Milton Keynes

  41. Laurie Smith permalink
    August 17, 2011 5:04 pm

    My post below is immediately overtaken by Judith Palmer’s reinstatement which I’m absolutely delighted about. Justice done at last. But my comment about returning to employment as at 1st April still applies to other staff, of course.

  42. Laurie Smith permalink
    August 17, 2011 4:32 pm

    Here is my nomination statement with some explanatory comments after it.

    I have been a Poetry Society member on and off since the mid-70s.

    Magma poetry magazine began in my poetry class at London’s City Lit and is now one of the UK’s leading poetry magazines. I was its reviews editor till recently, have edited several issues and now chair its Board.

    I have taught poetry writing to adults and English in schools for many years, and now train teachers at King’s College London. As a former officer and employee of the NASUWT teachers’ trade union, and a governor of secondary schools continuously since 1983 (including as Chair), I am very aware of the need for proper procedures, especially in staffing matters, and I know how these procedures should work.

    I proposed the vote of no confidence at the EGM. As well as restoring proper governance, I believe the Society should be more responsive to its members throughout the UK. I would like to see trustees elected by the whole membership; more trustees from outside the South East; Board decisions reported in Poetry News; and input from members in appointing future Poetry Review Editors, e.g. by member survey and/or a panel of Stanza representatives.

    Any comments or enquiries to

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Katy Evans-Bush, Andy Ching, Anne Berkeley
    Location: Surrey


    I think the new Board will have three main tasks. The first is to restore good governance so that, among other benefits, the Arts Council restores our grant. On staffing we should follow standard ACAS advice in such circumstances so that all relevant staff return to their employment as at 1st April and matters are resolved afresh with expert HR guidance (which the Society pays for but hasn’t used). As charity trustees with a duty to apply all money for members’ benefit, we should explore whether the 26.5k wasted on legal fees can be retrieved,

    Beyond this the Board should return to establishing and overseeing policy and leave day to day administration to the staff, especially implementation of the Development Plan which so impressed the Arts Council.

    The second task is to make the Society more meaningful to its national membership. Many members seem to feel they get little for their subscription apart from Poetry Review and Poetry News. Setting up Stanzas and the Annual Lecture in Manchester were moves in the right direction, but more needs to be done, some at Board level (direct election of trustees, more trustees from outside the South East, Board decisions reported in Poetry News).

    Another possibility would be to hold the AGM in a different region each year, perhaps on the same occasion as the Annual Lecture or another high-profile poetry event. The Society could start appearing at poetry festivals, sponsoring readings, etc.

    As Poetry Review is important to members, I believe members should have a say in the appointment of future editors. Many organisations survey their members’ views on important developments. There could also be a panel of Stanza representatives which interviewed the candidates and fed back to the trustees (who would continue to make the appointment). This follows modern practice of involving stakeholders in major decisions.

    Finally the Society’s constitution, which is largely unchanged from 1923, needs modernising. It runs to 91 clauses with many sub-clauses, but still omits vital things like the powers of the Chair between Board meetings. If these had been specified and the duties of trustees set out in a briefer, more focussed document, the current problems would not have arisen.

    With a modern constitution, fully understood and followed, and an energetic commitment to promoting poetry by every means in the whole UK, the Society would genuinely become THE Poetry Society. This is what I will work for if elected.
    Additional post here.

  43. Stephen Wilson permalink
    August 17, 2011 3:34 pm

    For anyone who is interested, a slightly more detailed biography together with links to an interview and work published in the online magazine, International Literary Quarterly, is available at:

  44. Bert Molsom permalink
    August 17, 2011 1:36 pm

    I have now submitted my proposal form. As I have said in previous postings I just hope that there are enough candidates to ensure that there is an election. I have e-mailed the Society to ask that the proxy forms issued to all Members include all the candidates names and any proposals that require voting on. This will avoid reams of e-mails flowing to prospective proxies when such documents can be returned direct to the Poetry Society which may avoid long-winded counts taking place at the meeting!

    I show below my 200 word statement:
    Currently residing in North Shropshire, I am a former practice manager for firstly, a solicitors practice in Hampshire, subsequently an engineering practice in Stoke on Trent. I had responsibility for finance, contracts (commercial and staff), IT and administration. I was a Pension Trustee for eight years and fully aware of the role and responsibilities of trustees.

    I am a poetry lover and an aspiring poet. I belong to a poetry writing group and know how important poetry is and can be for people in their daily lives. The Society is a critical organisation for the future and well-being of poetry through its role to “help poets and poetry thrive”. I want to use my skills to provide support and guidance to the staff who work hard on our behalf.

    As a member of the Board I would be looking to ascertain what has happened recently to ensure that such issues do not recur, to ensure, wherever possible, that the Board learns from any mistakes that have been made, to make the activities of the Board more transparent and inclusive for the membership and to reassure the ACE that the Poetry Society is the best qualified vehicle for their funding.
    And, finally, may the best twelve candidates win – the Poetry Society needs you!

  45. August 17, 2011 12:11 pm

    Since several other poets are now standing, I cannot see that it’s necessary for me to stand also, since my primary motive for standing for election was in response to the information that few active poets had been nominated so far.

    So I shall not bother putting in my nomination form, and urge voting members instead to ensure a good balance on the Board between experts in professional matters such as the law and accounting, and active poets.

    Many thanks to the four people who nominated me, and best of luck to those standing. I hope to be able to serve the Society in some other capacity in the future.

  46. Tim Turnbull permalink
    August 17, 2011 10:38 am

    Dear all

    I put in my application this morning. I actually decided to stand on 27th May when it became apparent that a new board would be needed. Family matters prevented me from attending the EGM but I’ve followed events closely.

    The area I think I can be most useful in is education – see below. I also have a ‘demonstrable interest in all aspects of poetry, including written, studied, spoken, electronic, and performance’ having published two collections (with Donut Press) and various pamphlets, created and performed two poetry theatre shows, and taken part in and helped organize many live events.

    I’d like to see the Poetry Society continue to take account of the interests of the small presses, but as with all the other nominees who’ve declared, I’ve no wish to represent any particular faction.

    Ensuring good governance is my primary motive for standing. I hope I’d be able to contribute to this and to restoring the reputation of the Society, and would echo others in saying that the best way to do that is to let the staff get on with their jobs.

    Here is my 200 word statement:

    I have been a member of the Poetry Society since 1998. In seeking election as a Trustee I offer to support the staff of the organization in restoring the confidence of the membership and funders.

    My area of experience is in education having, between 1998 and 2002, initiated and managed a series of schools poetry projects in north London, worked as writer in residence or guest tutor in twelve prisons across the UK. Since 2008 I have worked freelance for Scottish Book Trust co-ordinating adult literacy publications projects as well as teaching in schools, colleges and universities. My particular interest is in working with vulnerable and hard to reach groups of adults and young people.

    Before this I worked in the forestry industry for nineteen years and am a trained forest manager. This gave me a robust background in project management, working to tight budgets and schedules.

    Poetically my interests range from the populist to the avant-garde and everything in between. I am not interested in factionalism and see the Board of Trustees role as offering the Society’s staff support with as light a touch as possible.

    For more information see


    Thanks to Clare Pollard, Julia Bird and Andy Ching for nominating me.

  47. graytogrey permalink
    August 17, 2011 9:30 am

    Graham Norman

    I am Graham Norman, Stanza Rep for Leicester. I have submitted my nomination for the Board of Trustees.

    Trustees should understand their responsibilities as set out in the Memorandum & Articles of Association of the Poetry Society. Only then can they fulfil their duties and provide good governance and service to the members and the wider society.

    I am confident that I can fulfil these obligation with enthusiasm tempered by common sense and reason.

    Here is my 200 word application statement:

    I am a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors with my own practice for twelve years followed by twenty years as a Senior Manager in Local Government, responsible for a budget of £4 million and sixty employees. I have wide experience in human resources, business planning and public relations.

    As Head of Service, I regularly reported to Council Committees and acquired skills in reporting, political management, legal responsibilities and governance. I retired in 2008.

    I have had high level involvement in a Millennium Lottery bid for a £2.5 million environmental project which I went on to project manage to completion on time and in budget.

    I have a lifelong interest in poetry as a writer, performer, teacher and promoter. A former Chair of Leicester Poetry Society, I am currently Rep. for the Leicester Poetry Stanza and a freelance writer.

    In 2010 I received a Higher Certificate of Further Education in Creative Writing with Distinction at Leicester University. I shall shortly commence a Masters Degree at De Montfort University.

    I bring my heart with its love of poetry and my mind with its professional skills to the service of the Poetry Society and its Members.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services?
    Proposed by: Caroline Cook, Charles Lauder Jr, Joanna Watson
    Location: Leicester

  48. Valerie Dunmore permalink
    August 17, 2011 9:27 am

    My name is Valerie Dunmore (author and journalist) and, having been writing poetry since my schooldays, recently re-joined the Society. Not knowing many members, I am looking for someone who would be prepared to provide a third signature to my application for canditure to the Board, as so far I haven’t found anyone and time is running out.

    I really like a challenge and feel I could contribute with my organisational skills, work with charities and Government funding knowledge, combined with my love of poetry. The experience I bring is as follows – a brief c.v.: 12 years as trustee and coy. sec. to the charity, Skiers Trust Ltd; 10 years at British Ski Federation in charge of the Freestyle Ski Team nationally and internationally, where I was involved with Sports Council funding, organising and judging international competitions and re-writing rules and constitutions etc.; co-founder of the Side-Saddle Association, now worldwide; 4 years as chairman of Society of Women Writers & Journalists, now a Vice President. All this involvement was voluntary. Other information is available at My email address is


    Statement on PoSoc form:

    I love a challenge and feel I could contribute to the Board with my organisational skills, work with charities and Government funding knowledge, together with my love of poetry. I have been writing poetry since my schooldays and am a published author and journalist. The 3 key areas in which my strengths lie are: business planning, experience as a trustee, IT and social media plus my interest in all aspects of poetry, particularly the spoken word. The experience I bring is as follows: 10 years at British Ski Federation in charge of the Freestyle Ski Team nationally and internationally, involved with Sports Council funding, organising and judging international competitions; re-writing rules and constitutions etc. I also represented Britain on the international ski committee; 12 years as trustee and coy. sec. to the charity, Skiers Trust Ltd; Co-founder Caterham Cancer Support Group now a fully fledged charity; Co-founder of Side-Saddle Association, now worldwide; 4 years chairman of Society of Women Writers & Journalists, now a Vice President. Many years lecturing in Adult Education; member of local residents’ association and conservation groups; IT and DTP literate; trained originally in speech and drama; other information is available at

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Dorothy Pope, Sylvia Goodman, Angela France
    Location: Surrey

  49. Stephen Wilson permalink
    August 17, 2011 7:43 am

    One thing the new Board should do is to change the antiquated system of election and enfranchise a greater number of members by enabling online voting. Oxford did this following the Professor of Poetry hoo-ha and it worked very well.

    • Laurie Smith permalink
      August 17, 2011 4:45 pm

      Thanks for this, Stephen. I’m in favour of trustees being elected by the whole membership in future and was hoping this could be done online rather than by post. It’s good to see this has been tried and it works. I will certainly save a lot of money.

  50. August 16, 2011 7:26 pm

    Hello everyone,

    I’ve worked with the Poetry Society on a freelance or collaborative basis for a number of years, and I greatly appreciate the professionalism, efficiency and warmth of the Society’s committed staff. I value the Society’s work in supporting poetry and poets, and I’d like to offer my own support in return. I’ve decided to stand for election as a Trustee, in the hope that my skills may be of some use.

    Here’s my official 200 word statement:


    I believe that the love of reading poetry, and the love of writing it, are intrinsically and equally valuable. I would like to support the Poetry Society in its nurture of poetry reading and writing at all levels of proficiency.

    I have twenty years experience in IT, including software and website development, web publishing, project management and social media. I hope this expertise might support the Society in developing its online strategy.

    I also have ten years' experience as a Director and Company Secretary of a UK Limited Company, and more recently I've been volunteering in a working group to set up a charitable Community Development Trust in my hometown.

    I'm particularly interested in exploring how the Society might engage creatively with its membership, and with other potential partner organisations, to increase its activity outside the Greater London area.

    Finally, I'm a practising poet with two collections from Bloodaxe Books, including 'Perfect Blue' which was awarded the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for 2010. I work in partnership with the Society to provide an ongoing Poetry Surgery service in Edinburgh, and I've also provided written tutoring and/or workshops for the Society, the Poetry School, the Arvon Foundation and HI~Arts.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Robyn Marsack, Paul Ranford, Edward Millichap
    Location: Perthshire


    I'm not a political animal, and I have neither axes to grind nor hidden agendas to push; I would simply wish to assist the Society in carrying out its charter as effectively and harmoniously as possible.

    In addition to my IT, business and poetry experience, as a Trustee I would hope to offer pragmatism, clear thinking, a calm and future-focused perspective, and (for better or worse) an Australian sense of humour.

    Many thanks to Robyn Marsack, Paul Ranford and Ted Millichap for acting as my proposers. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend the AGM as I'm out of the country on the 14th of September, but I'll be appointing a proxy.

    Disclosure: I currently carry out freelance work for the Poetry Society, providing a regular Poetry Surgery service in Edinburgh and occasional articles for Poetry News. If elected as a Trustee, I would intend to continue providing these particular services on the same paid freelance basis as before, unless some overriding conflict of interest arose.

  51. August 16, 2011 6:50 pm

    Gosh, you say you aren’t standing, and suddenly people WANT you to stand. I’ve heard there aren’t enough poetry people standing, so have decided to do so on that basis, as I feel that is an issue we need to consider, this being a Poetry Society.

    This is the 200-word statement I’m sending with my CV and nomination form. I’ll also blog something at my blog Raw Light tomorrow, and am also on Facebook/Twitter for those who’d like to quizz me further about experience and suitability etc.


    I’m a poet, novelist and former editor with a strong knowledge of grass-roots poetry, especially performance and independent poetry presses.

    I received an Eric Gregory Award in 1996, have been Warwick Poet Laureate, and have published three full-length collections of poetry, one with Bloodaxe and two with Salt Publishing. I edited a poetry magazine in the nineties, and more recently was Editor of Horizon Review. I have also been a commissioning editor for Salt Publishing, both for poetry and fiction.

    I currently write commercial historical fiction for Transworld as Victoria Lamb, plus Young Adult fiction for Random House from 2012. I have a professional knowledge of what it takes to work in the arts as a practitioner, while my experience as an editor has allowed me to understand the practicalities of making that work public.

    I have tutored for the Arvon Foundation, taught poetry and creative writing to adults and children over the past fifteen years, and have sat on arts committees as a specialist. My main aim in standing is to ensure we balance out a board of arts-friendly professionals from other walks of life with serious, long-term practitioners of the art.

  52. August 16, 2011 11:54 am

    This is turning into a confusing free-for-all. Is there going to be a definitive list of candidates for Trustees that we can look at before the AGM so we can decide who to vote for? Will the PS send out a list and invite voting BEFORE the AGM? Do we know the answer to that? Will we have enough nominees for voting to take place?

    I’m also uncertain what qualities we need to look for. On the one hand, yes, someone who has experience suitable for a Trusteeship. But also someone who is at least occasionally involved in contemporary British poetry, rather than someone who reads the PBS Choices and keeps a Penguin anthology on the coffee table.

    I’m deeply suspicious of grasping at experience for experience’s sake. Look at the current Board. Some of them were ‘experienced’ but couldn’t apparently work out how to get free legal advice for a charity. Many of them seemed openly scornful of ‘poets’ at the EGM. Mad, at least one of them described us to the media afterwards.

    Yes, maybe some of us are mad. So we need people running our Society who understand that madness and sympathise with it. Not hard-headed corporate types who will make decisions based on what they believe to be our needs, as sane and disinterested outsiders, rather than on what our needs genuinely are.

    I shall not be standing. Not only do I feel inadequate for the task, based on other comments here and elsewhere about how we need lawyers and accountants running our Society, but I also suspect that those who stand will be questioned about their motives in a most uncomfortable manner. I’m an editor and a writer at heart, not necessarily a Trustee. I would respond to a warm and generous call for help at a time of crisis, but not to a suspicious and cynical call from those who want assurances no mortal can give them.

    • Martin - admin permalink*
      August 16, 2011 12:04 pm

      Dear Jane,

      All the details about nominations, dates and proxies have been posted, with links to the official site and the information posted there. Links are on the AGM page, on the home page and elsewhere.

      Here are the dates:

      By Thursday 4 August 2011: Formal AGM notice and nomination forms sent out to members by email and post and posted on Poetry Society website; plus request to RSVP to the Poetry Society to confirm attendance (for numbers)

      Thursday 18 August 2011: Deadline for nominations to Council; to be returned to the Poetry Society by email or post

      By Friday 26 August 2011: Full agenda, candidates for nomination and proxy forms sent to members by email and post and posted on Poetry Society website

      Monday 12 September 2011: Deadline for proxy forms to be returned by post or email to the Poetry Society at Betterton Street

      Thursday 14 September: AGM, 6.30pm to 8.30pm

      • August 16, 2011 12:23 pm

        Super, thanks. And I realised afterwards that I posted this on the wrong page. Mea culpa. Jx

  53. August 15, 2011 3:46 pm

    I would be interested in serving as a trustee, but like others I do not have proposers or seconders. If those on this blog think I could be of use, may I ask for help on that?

    I have a lifelong interest in poetry, always reading and still sporadically writing, although little published and not for a long time. I have been a member of the Poetry Society for a number of years. What can I offer?

    I am a High Court judge, previously a QC and Chairman of the Bar Council. I have many years experience of organisations – amongst others, founded my college literary society, active for 8 years in a (voluntary) legal advice centre, running chambers, 15 years of Bar Council committees ending in a year as full-time Chairman. I am now approaching the end of 4 years as one of two judges responsible for the judiciary of the north-west of England. I currently serve as a trustee for a significant legal charity aimed at supporting and extending free legal advice.

    Clearly the Poetry Society needs to regain an even keel. The trustees need to have a range of skills, and there is a need for accomplished poets to serve, so as to ensure the primacy of poetry for the organisation. So it would be wrong for the Board to be dominated by non-poets – it is about balance. Many contributors to this blog have said much the same. I also agree with Paul Ranford – trustees must not try to take operational control of any organisation, that just undermines the staff. Trustees do need to intervene if things go off the rails, and they need to be aware of what is going on, so as to advise and support. Here too it is a question of balance.

    Anyway, if you think I can help, please say so. I need membership numbers as well as names, according to the office. Time is pretty tight.

    Stephen Irwin

    Statement submitted on PoSoc form:

    I am committed to poetry, as a lifelong enthusiastic reader, and sometimes a writer. I was a QC and am now a High Court judge. I have long experience of organisations. I set up my college literary society, spent 8 years volunteering at a legal advice centre, nearly 20 years helping to run chambers, 15 years on Bar Council committees ending with a year full time as Chairman of the Bar. I became a judge in 2006, and am approaching the end of four years as one of two judges with oversight of the judiciary of the north-west of England. I currently serve as a trustee of a significant legal charity which aims to support and extend free legal advice and representation. I would very much welcome the chance to support poetry through the PS – it is such a significant organisation. It seems to me the Society needs to regain an even keel. The Board must have trustees who are active and accomplished poets, to ensure the primacy of poetry, but there needs to be a balance of skills. There also needs to be a proper balance between the Board and staff: trustees must not try to manage an organisation…

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Paul Ranford, Martin Alexander, Dr Stephen Wilson
    Location: Hertfordshire

    • Laurie Smith permalink
      August 16, 2011 6:01 am

      Stephen, I think your experience is exactly what the Society needs and I’ll be happy to be one of your nominators. Please email me at laurie.smith@nasuwt and I’ll let you have my address and membership number.

    • Angela France permalink
      August 16, 2011 7:50 am

      I think legal skills in addition to trustee experience should be very useful – how about putting up your email address so people can contact you?

    • Stephen Wilson permalink
      August 16, 2011 8:23 am

      Although I don’t know you, I certainly think you would be an asset to the new Board and would be happy to support your nomination.

  54. August 15, 2011 12:04 pm

    Polly Clark: Statement
    I am very grateful to Kate Clanchy, Robyn Marsack and George Szirtes for nominating me for election to the Board. I am wholeheartedly committed to poetry: the enjoyment of it, the writing and publishing of it, and its wider community. The Poetry Society is essential to the life of poetry in the UK and I have been involved from the beginning with the requisition for an EGM and the petition. I would like to contribute what I can to the Society’s future.

    It seems to me vital that the Poetry Society includes voices from the regions and from Scotland. The range of poetries in Britain, the talent and innovation around poetry and literature, these are the strengths of poetry in the UK and the Poetry Society can only benefit from bringing in voices and skills from all over the country. I live far from London, on Scotland’s west coast, and whilst I am connected and involved with what’s going on, this also means that I am not part of any particular faction.

    Alongside writing three books of poetry I worked for several years in publishing at Oxford University Press, and also over the last decade have worked extensively with the Arts Councils of England and Scotland on many literature projects. These are detailed in my CV which you can (shortly!) download from my website, but broadly, this experience allows me to bring to the Society Board not just an understanding of Arts Council funding and a sense of how artists can work fruitfully with funding bodies, but also a clear grasp of how poetry can thrive in the real world, one that includes hard economics and powerful social media. Currently I produce the Literature Programme at Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre. This is a small, publicly funded arts charity, with, like the Poetry Society, immense reach. I am not an HR, charity or law specialist: what I can bring to the Society is knowledge and solid experience of how such a body works, as well as a thorough understanding of the challenges and exciting possibilities ahead.

    I am volunteering my time and all my skills including my poetic ones and don’t expect any payment for work undertaken on behalf of the Poetry Society.

    Statement submitted on PoSoc form:

    I am a poet with a wholehearted commitment to poetry: the enjoyment of it, the writing and publishing of it, and its wider community. The Poetry Society is essential to the life of poetry in the UK and I would like to contribute what I can to the Society’s future. Alongside writing three books of poetry I have worked in publishing at Oxford University Press, and over the last decade have worked extensively with the Arts Councils of England and Scotland to create many innovative literature projects. I bring to the Society Board not just an understanding of arts funding but also a clear grasp of how poetry can thrive in the real world, one that includes hard economics and powerful social media. Currently I produce the Literature Programme at Cove Park, Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre. This is a small, publicly funded arts charity, with, like the Poetry Society, immense reach. I can bring to the Society knowledge and solid experience of how such a body works. It is vital that the Poetry Society includes voices from outside London. I live on Scotland’s west coast, and this also means that I am not part of any particular faction.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Kate Clanchy, Robyn Marsack, George Szirtes
    Location: Argyll and Bute

    • Angela France permalink
      August 16, 2011 7:51 am

      I am very pleased to see you’re standing.

  55. Eva Salzman permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:15 pm


    I won’t see what’s sent out as am out of country so this is helpful – thanks.

  56. Eva Salzman permalink
    August 14, 2011 1:17 pm

    During recent events that led to current events, I recall dark hints about ulterior motives of requisitionists. Who knows if these motives were thought to be the desire to edit a magazine or serve on a Board.

    Some excellent candidates have put themselves forward so far, but where are the poets/writers?! Not that many editors either. Am i missing something? I guess there’s still time…..

    • August 14, 2011 9:32 pm

      Hi Eva,

      I’m a poet (got some poems published and a pamphlet forthcoming next spring 🙂 ), and I’m a editor–a copy editor of literature and history books. It’s in my CV which I didn’t post here earlier in my statement ’cause I figured everyone will see that when the PS sends out the listing of candidaes. I wanted to keep it simple. 🙂

      Best wishes,

    • Jonathan Briggs permalink
      August 14, 2011 10:05 pm

      We’re looking for trustees, not for anyone to write or edit the newsletter or review. Trusteeship is about oversight not day to day involvement, not about getting your poems in the review, in fact I would expect any trustee to recuse themselves from participation in either of the publications.

      • August 15, 2011 11:00 am

        Hi Jonathan,

        I’m not sure anyone has said they want to use being a trustee to get their poems in the Poetry Review or whatever? If your remark is a reply to Charles Lauder, his remark seems clearly to be a reply to Eva.

        I think it’s important not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I can see what you say about poets having vested interests, but since the Board has no day-to-day involvement, there can clearly be no untoward interference in this way, right? I think on an arts charity, anyone would agree it is better to have some practitioners of the art in question on the Board. But surely it is a position of gravitas – a quality most signally lacking from the current board – and one would want practitioners who have other experience, and have perhaps got a track record of enabling others, rather than just being grasping careerists or whatever the picture is that you’re painting.

        In any case, Charles is a stanza rep, and I think there is a place for stanza reps too. So let’s be open and friendly.

  57. Stephen Wilson permalink
    August 14, 2011 8:34 am

    I have submitted the following CV in my nomination form:


    Stephen Wilson MRCS,LRCP,MSc,PhD,FRCPsych,DPM

    Following qualification as a doctor at the Royal Free Hospital, London, I specialised in psychiatry and psychotherapy. Formerly Consultant Psychotherapist and Senior Clinical Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University, I have long experience in the NHS including departmental administration, chairing committees of consultants, teaching, supervising, acting as an expert witness and participating in multi-disciplinary team work. I also served on the editorial board of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

    I am a longstanding member of the Poetry Society and frequent contributor to Poetry News. My first collection of poems, Fluttering Hands, was published in 2008. I am the author of six other books, Isaac Rosenberg, The Bloomsbury Book of the Mind, Introducing the Freud Wars, Sigmund Freud, The Cradle of Violence: Essays on Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Literature, and Poetics of the Diaspora.

    I believe the recent crisis in the Society underlines the need for the Board to be able to draw upon a range of skills and to include non-partisan people who have professional experience in dealing with conflicted human relations — skills not to be deployed in the micro-management of staff but to inform a measured view of organisational dynamics.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Matthew Francis, David Wilkinson, Caroline Ashley
    Location: Oxfordshire

    from a later post:
    For anyone who is interested, a slightly more detailed biography together with links to an interview and work published in the online magazine, International Literary Quarterly, is available at:

    (added by admin)

  58. Paul Ranford permalink
    August 13, 2011 12:11 pm

    I have submitted a completed proposal form to stand for election to the General Council (“the Board”) of the Poetry Society. Below is an extended form of the statement that accompanies that nomination.

    From November 2008 to August 2011 I was the Finance Manager of the Poetry Society. I seek election as a Trustee to provide (1) some general continuity as the previous Board is stepping down en bloc, (2) assistance, where required, in managing the Society’s finances, and (3) essential knowledge of Staff concerns.

    I gave notice of my resignation from the Society in May 2011 citing lack of confidence in the then Board’s actions. My last day as an employee of the Society was 12 August 2011.

    At the EGM held on 22 July 2011, I circulated a statement setting out detailed reasons for my resignation, see:

    I stand by that statement today. At the EGM the members passed a vote of no confidence in the then Board (by 302 votes to 69, with 11 abstentions).

    At the date of the AGM, funding of approximately £78,000 from the Arts Council of England (“ACE”, the Society’s most significant funder and contributor of about 1/3 of the Society’s annual income) will remain withheld for the reasons set out in my EGM statement. That amount was due to be received by the Society in early July 2011. Further funding in October 2011 and January 2012 remains at risk. The Society cannot maintain its current activities beyond the end of 2011 without the support of ACE.

    The Board’s immediate priority on appointment is therefore to re-establish the confidence of Members, of Staff, of ACE and of other significant funders who have also expressed concerns about recent reputational risk. That will be achieved by (1) re-establishing the position of the Director of the Society as the individual to whom the day-to-day management of the Society is delegated under the Society’s constitution, (2) supporting the Director in efforts to restore the condition of the Society (as far as is possible) to that pertaining in early 2011 when ACE awarded the Society increased funding for its activities, and (3) withdrawing as rapidly as possible from executive and day-to-day management action in which the previous Board had become involved. I firmly believe that such action is not properly within the remit of any Trustee of the Society, or the Board as a whole.

    I should say that I am no poet, although I do understand something of the inspirational power and grace of the poet’s art. I do care about this Society however, and the work it does, and specifically about the livelihoods of the people, my former colleagues, who have worked with admirable dedication and tenacity in the face of unsettlement and significant stress during the last few months. Within the priorities I set out above, I am standing for election in order to support them and to ensure that the root cause of recent troubles – a failure to consult experienced, knowledgeable and talented employees – is not repeated.

    I am a Chartered Accountant with 30 years’ experience in commercial management, mainly Finance Director appointments with well known client-service agencies in the City and West End (including 3 years as a quoted company FD). I took (very) early retirement in 2002 to build a portfolio career and to follow a variety of academic interests, and since then I have gained qualifications in: Computing (a Diploma, awarded with Distinction by Oxford University), certificates in Mathematics and the Natural Sciences (Open University), a First Class Honours BA degree in the Humanities (Open University), and an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science (awarded with Distinction by Imperial College). I am a member of Mensa and the Royal Institution. I teach Business Studies, lecture on the History of Science, collect old books (for the pleasure of reading) and old pens (for the pleasure of writing).

    Questions are welcomed.

    Paul Ranford


    Statement on PoSoc form:

    From November 2008 to August 2011 I was the Finance Manager of the Poetry Society. I seek election to the General Council to provide Trustees with (1) some general continuity, and assistance where required, in managing the Society’s finances, and (2) essential knowledge of Staff concerns. I gave notice of resignation in May 2011, citing lack of confidence in the then Board’s actions. I am a Chartered Accountant with 30 years’ experience in commercial management, mainly Finance Director appointments with well known client-service agencies in the City and West End (including 3 years as a quoted company FD). I took (very) early retirement some years ago to build a portfolio career and to follow a variety of academic interests, and since then I have gained qualifications in: Computing (with Distinction, Oxford University), Mathematics and the Natural Sciences (Open University), a First Class Honours BA degree in the Humanities (Open University), and an MSc in the History and Philosophy of Science (with Distinction, Imperial College). I am a member of Mensa and the Royal Institution. I teach Business Studies, lecture on the History of Science, collect old books (for the pleasure of reading) and old pens (for the pleasure of writing).

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Peter Daniels, Anne Berkeley, Judith Chernaik
    Location: Buckinghamshire

  59. Eva Salzman permalink
    August 12, 2011 4:00 pm

    Dear. J. Briggs,

    Recent events indicate there editors, journalists, students of writing, trustees etc apart from practising professional writers with very sharp axes to grind indeed!

    The other thing clear from these events is that while there does seem to be a closed and cloistered poetry crew – making decisions at parties – there are many more poets as in who feel and act quite differently: as I guess would be the case in any other field. Generalising isn’t helpful.

    The idea of keeping poets off the board is offensive to me, I must say in its assumption about who poets are, what we do and can do. I was ASKED onto the Board in 1996 as it didn’t have enough poets and those knowledgeable in their field. Apart from this I’ve founded and ran organisations (Brighton Poets, Prison Works, etc) hosted readings and workshops, and edited mags (Printers Devil and books. In advance of funding (IF funding arrives) and these projects entailed fund-raising, programming, organising, designing and producing publicity, hosting writers, teaching myself, and many other things.

    At one point, as condittion of grant, we had to travel a few hours to talk to a consultant who would tell us how to do the things we were already doing unpaid, while those administering grants were themselves on regular salaries. This condition of grant was based on assumption we were lousy at doing these things. No doubt I’d have been bettter at any one thing if i hadn’t had to do them all. I pointed out they could instead put the fees this Arts Body was paying this consultant (who turned it knew little about poetry, plays or the things she was offering advice about) towards someone who could actually DO those jobs – at which they were better skilled and more practised – leaving me to concentrate on what I do and know best, related to literary skills and knowledge in the field. That went down well. Not.

    Anyway, a small anecdote about the freelance writing life and writers’ abilities…..

    • Jonathan Briggs permalink
      August 13, 2011 12:08 pm

      I didn’t say keep poets off the board, and I am not objecting to poets per se, I just think that we should not vote for people because they are poets rather, perhaps, in spite of them being poets – To get the ball rolling I suggested a maximum of three as I nowhere see the composition of the new board of trustees being discussed. The point I am making is that there is no real forum for debating the issue; how many members are responding to this site, one which is clearly aimed at encouraging such debate? Too few. Unless there is a really wide debate there is always the danger that the new trustees will be voted in by very few people, which would not be good. The business side of the PS must be run as a business, those charged with running the company on a daily basis should be allowed to do so without interference, the members of the board should understand and reflect this.

      Poets who are well qualified, and able to suspend the poet in themselves when the situation requires them to do so, should be welcomed with open arms, but it should be born in mind that, to use a footballing analogy, not all great players make good managers.

      The Society cannot afford a repeat of the recent hiatus, so the members must concentrate on voting for trustees first and foremost and be willing to set all other considerations aside.

  60. Bert Molsom permalink
    August 12, 2011 9:12 am

    My use of the word ‘transparency’ in my previous posting was used in the context of the Trustees position in policy making and strategy which is their remit. As a Trustee of a pension scheme for eight years I am more than aware of the limitations that have to be placed on the release of personal information compared with informing Members of the direction of the organisation.

    Where there are changes in policy or strategy, and I would consider any changes in the contractual arrangements of the Poetry Review editorship to be such, then I would expect such matters to be brought to the attention of the Membership and opinions canvassed.

    However, I am not clear how banking arrangements are a matter of policy or strategy and would have thought that such matters should have been in the hands of the Director and Finance Officer with their recommendations either being approved or rejected by the Board but I would expect any resulting change in the Society’s bankers to be reported to Members at the AGM.

    I would also like to see the names of the Trustees included in all issues of Poetry News so that Members know who they are. This again is something that was done by the pension scheme in their regular newsletter to members together with contact details.

    I hope this clarifies my position.

  61. August 11, 2011 10:27 pm

    Earlier this week I submitted my nomination form for the Board. I don’t have a vast experience of working for a charity, but I am a Stanza Rep for the South Leicestershire Stanza. Here’s the statement I included with my application:


    “I am the Stanza Rep for the South Leicestershire Stanza, which I started three years ago and it’s grown to be a solid group of poets from around the county, including the city of Leicester. For the past eight years I have been the chairman of a local historical society of fifty-plus members. With the rest of the steering Committee, we organized day trips, the annual series of lectures, and the semi-annual publication of the Society’s magazine. I’m putting myself forward for the General Council because I want to give a voice to members of my Stanza and other Stanzas throughout the country who feel that the Society has become a London-centric organization and that they get little in return for the large annual membership fee, and would like to see more done in their region, i.e., to grow on recent efforts of the touring Annual Lecture in Manchester and the poetry reading at Stratford. By day I am a freelance writer and poet, and a copy-editor of history, literature, and science books.”

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Caroline Cook, Gwynne Harries, Sue O’Callaghan
    Location: Leicestershire


    Additional post here.

  62. August 11, 2011 7:53 pm

    Erm…the nomination forms. Has anyone a) a logical explanation for their design and b) how are they supposed to work?
    Each one has the name of the Proposed trustee written in at the top.(By the first proposer.)
    Then, there are spaces for the three proposers to fill in their names and addresses.All on the same piece of paper/email form.
    Now, if you don’t know the next name and address of the next proposer, you can’t play this game of consequences.
    In other words, the form is designed to be filled in while you are in the same room as the other three proposers.
    – Don’t worry, I sent in my form with just my signature etc, hoping that the other two proposers did the same, and that we cross-pollinated.
    Just one more example of the almost-private nature of the elections and something that needs changing to a single-vote-by-post system, or suchlike, as soon as we get a new board.

    • Paul Ranford permalink
      August 11, 2011 10:22 pm


      Three separate nomination forms with three different nominators for the same nominee are being accepted in the office as fulfilling the nomination requirements. Or they are cross-pollinating, as you say 🙂


      • August 12, 2011 8:05 pm

        Yes, thank you for the info. It needed to be made clear for designing any future voting forms.

  63. Laurie Smith permalink
    August 11, 2011 11:24 am

    Jonathan, just to add a bit to Martin’s comments: the PoSoc will send out candidates’ names and their 200 word statements about themselves to all members on 26 August. Members who come to the AGM will elect 14 of them and members who want to vote but can’t come to the AGM can appoint a proxy to vote for them at the meeting.

    If there are only 14 candidates, all of them will be deemed elected without a vote. If there are more than 14, there will be ballot papers with all the names listed alphabetically and the 14 candidates with the most votes will be elected. If a proxy vote is called, the proxies will be added in the same way as at the EGM.

    I hope this is helpful. The man you know sounds just the kind of person we need. If he’s willing to stand and is willing to post his CV or 200 word statement here, I’ll willingly be one of his nominees. Or if he would prefer to email me directly at we can sort it that way.

    I’ll be standing and am still working on my 200 words. If you would like to see the latest version, just email me.

    • Paul Ranford permalink
      August 11, 2011 10:11 pm


      Members who come to the AGM will elect 12 of them, not 14. The other 2 places are available for the Board to co-opt members. (Article 10.)

      Replace “14” with “12” throughout your posting, and all is good 🙂


  64. Jonathan Briggs permalink
    August 10, 2011 9:41 pm

    I don’t see how this is going to work – Are we going to end up with trustees who have the most Facebook friends or the most contacts on Twitter. How are the wider membership going to know who’s whom and what they can offer. Is this vote going to rely on people who go to the same readings, attend the same poetry groups, go to the same launches, or are we supposed to nominate members whose names we know from the poetry shelves in our local Waterstones? It stirkes me that this is all being done with indecent haste.

    Are the nominees supposed to stand at the next meeting and make their pitches, so that those who have handed proxy votes for others then going to find their votes pinned to the chest of someone they have never heard of and wouldn’t have voted for if they had?

    I am acquainted with a man who is the Human Recources Director for a major international company, has very well developed appreciation for the arts and who, at one time, made his living as an actor – That’s a very broad range of experience. As far as I am concerned he is designed for the job, but I rather suspect that I am the only person he knows who is a member. It may be that other members konw him but do not know it – So how will the membership get to decide? It strikes me that someone who knows half a dozen members could get elected because 35 other people only know 5 members.

    Who will be arranging the election, who will be counting the votes, who will be overseeing the count?

    I think we need to be told.

    • Martin - admin permalink*
      August 10, 2011 10:01 pm

      Dear Jonathan,

      I’m not much more in the loop than you are. This is an independent site for ordinary members. I hope prospective Trustees will tell us about themselves on this site so that we can make a judgment about them. I hoped the official Poetry Society site would do the same – but as yet it hasn’t, so here we are.

      As Kate Clanchy has said, if the Board had done the decent thing and stepped down at the EGM, we might have had a sound interim Board – with a mandate – in place until there was proper voting at the scheduled AGM in November.

      Sounds like your bloke might be a good candidate – and Facebook or Twitter popularity, I hope, won’t be the factors that reap the votes…

      If your person is willing and a member, he should get himself nominated, send in the form and post his statement here. And, if you like, he can put his case on this blog and get members to nominate him. There’s also an official Poetry Society Facebook site where you can make your points on the Discussion page.

      As for overseeing and counting, there are excellent staff at the Poetry Society who will deal with all this – Paul McGrane is one of them – and the voting was impeccably organised by the same team at the EGM a couple of weeks ago.

      I hope that candidates will use one of these forums to make their case. I hope the Board will make sure that they also have a platform through the official Poetry Society site.

      Martin – admin

      • Jonathan Briggs permalink
        August 11, 2011 11:41 am

        Part of the point is, that he is not a member. I know none of the poets who are involved in sorting out this mess, but am wary of stocking the board with poets, they may well not be what we need. What we need are people who can read a balance sheet, can warn when a decision contrary to the Articles of Association are about to be trashed, people who don’t meekly follow an agenda which is contrary to the aims and aspirations of the Society as a whole. hat we don’t need is trustees who base the running of the Society on gossip heard at parties – Remember the 2009 Oxford Professor of Poetry election. I believe that there should be a maximum of 3 poets on the board and that they should hold the position for no more than 2 years – Poets have fans, and when fans get fanatical, axes get ground. We also need younger trustees. Poetry evolves faster than most can keep up with, word on the street today becomes the poetry of tomorrow – We read Newbold today and think “How quaint, all that play up and play the game stuff”. It is also the reason why, in my opinion, an editor in perpituity is not a good idea. Would an editor installed in 1970 publish the work of a Liane Strauss or a Simon Armitage, or would it seem positively indecent to write of petite morts in a poem about a schoolgirl crush, and reject it?

        We need a mix of trustees, and a sizable dollop of the expertise so lacking in the recent past.

    • Angela France permalink
      August 11, 2011 7:39 pm

      Jonathan –
      you said “I know none of the poets who are involved in sorting out this mess, but am wary of stocking the board with poets, they may well not be what we need. What we need are people who can read a balance sheet, can warn when a decision contrary to the Articles of Association are about to be trashed, people who don’t meekly follow an agenda which is contrary to the aims and aspirations of the Society as a whole. ”

      Why should you think there are no poets that can do these things? There are poets who are accountants, lawyers, doctors, charity workers, farmers and many other things. I think it is irrelevant whether a board member is a poet or not; it only matters that they care about poetry and can bring something to the mix of skills and experience we need on the board.

      • Jonathan Briggs permalink
        August 12, 2011 8:49 am

        I know that there are accountant-poets and lawyer-poets, but they are poets. The Poetry Society has a wider remit, it also has employees, many of whom may not be poets and who have been through a traumatising time at the hands of what heve every appearance of being rank amateurs in the field of employee relations and the handling of the responsibilities inherent in such a position. Poetry Society employees have, for the past few months, been worrying whether they will still be employed at the beginning of the next week. That the whole business was predicated on non-information inferred from gossip at a party beggars belief; as a consequence, I suggest that, in future, no two or more trustees should ever be allowed to attend the same party at the same time.

        I feel that people who have no poetical axe to grind would be benificial, the Society has to be run as a business to succeed, recently it appears to have been run as a private fiefdom with decisions made without due process, and monies spent without due diligence, in fact, not to mince words, it has been a complete cock-up, which is why we are discussing this today.

        Trusteeships should not be sinicures for friends of friends, a step up the ladder to a well-paid seat on a Quango, they should be a worthy end in themselves and undertaken without self-interest.

  65. Angela France permalink
    August 8, 2011 5:11 pm


    Bryan Owen has put himself forward to stand but he is on holiday from today, not returning until the 18th. I’m sure he won’t mind if I copy the statement he sent me here (I understand he has the three nominations needed):

    Statement from Bryan Owen

    I am a poet and writer living in Kirkintilloch near Glasgow. I am not a formal academic neither am I involved in publishing or business so I don’t have all the valuable skills possessed by those retiring members of the board. I am a retired teacher and clergyman who loves literature and who has published two books of poetry as well as a play for children. I have completed five poetry tours in the US – reading my work and leading poetry seminars in colleges, schools, libraries and churches. I read regularly in Glasgow, Edinburgh and elsewhere.

    For much of my life I have been involved with committees or boards. I have written two constitutions for Scottish charities, I have assisted in conflict resolution issues and I have a working knowledge of ACAS procedures. In November I’ll spend a month in Bangladesh assisting a college in Dhaka with its policy documents and codes of practice. For several years I was an International Election Observer for the UK and EU operating under a strict code of practice.

    I believe charity trustees should act professionally and correctly at all times, and should do so openly and transparently. Decisions, with only a few confidential exceptions, should be published on the Poetry Society website and in Poetry News. Trustees should also seek to improve their own performance and should accept training opportunities provided by ACAS and others.

    I believe the Poetry Society electoral franchise needs to be updated consistent with the society’s mass membership. All members should have a postal vote rather than just those near enough to London to attend an AGM voting in society elections.

    I also believe the horizons of the society need to re-include the whole of the UK as the constitution states. Poetry is for all whether we live in Surrey or Shetland.
    And the Poetry Society should be an inclusive organisation for all not an elitist body dominated by established poets and academics. I care about poetry and the teaching of poetry, and I care for our staff presently working in difficult circumstances. The talented teenager needs encouragement as well as writers of my generation and those who believe they are at the top of the tree. The purpose of the society is to “Help poets and poetry thrive in Britain today”.

    And perhaps most urgently of all, I believe the new board needs to resolve the current crisis by returning to the status quo ante of 1st April 2011. The petition of one thousand calls for the board to re-appoint Judith Palmer as Director and CEO. If still legally possible the new board should review the 3-month ‘trial’ arrangements for the Editor of Poetry Review. Lessons need to be learned from what has happened preferably by a thoughtful and objective enquiry into what has happened. It is likely that can happen on a pro bono basis.

    If you want an elitist, exclusive and narrowly-focused society, and if you want a Board of Trustees that is untrained and amateurish operating through secret cabals while ignoring best practice, then it’s better that you do not vote for me. However, if you believe in good governance then I hope you will consider whether my candidature might help towards that.”

    Statement on PoSoc form:

    I’m a poet living near Glasgow. I’ve published two collections of poetry and a play and I’ve completed five poetry tours in the US – reading my work and leading poetry seminars. I’ve been involved with committees or boards and have written two constitutions for Scottish charities. I’ve assisted in conflict resolution and have a working knowledge of ACAS procedures. I’ve been an International Election Observer for the UK/EU operating under the UN code of practice. Charity trustees should act professionally and correctly at all times, and should do so openly and transparently. Decisions should generally be published on the Poetry Society website. Trustees should also improve governance, education, their own performance and accept training opportunities provided by ACAS and others. The petition of one thousand needs to be taken seriously. Judith Palmer should be re-instated if possible and the 3-month ‘trial’ arrangements for the Editor should be reviewed. The Poetry Society should be an inclusive organisation for all. I care about poetry and the teaching of poetry. The talented teenager needs encouragement as well as writers of my generation. The purpose of the society is, after all, to “Help poets and poetry thrive in Britain today”!

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Angela France, Pat Jourdan, Alison Brackenbury
    Location: Glasgow

  66. Bert Molsom permalink
    August 8, 2011 11:20 am

    I would like to put myself forward as a Trustee for the Poetry Society in the forthcoming elections. But, as others have found, I don’t know other Poetry Society members who could propose and second me. However, I do feel I have the background and experience that could assist the organisation in the short term to overcome the problems of the last few months.

    I am not:
    1. a resident of the south east of England;
    2. a published poet; and
    3. a member of any particular interest group (poetic or otherwise).

    I am:
    1. an experienced manager, my last paid employments was ten years as the Practice Manager for a professional engineering practice with six offices, 12 partners and 250 staff;
    2. used to ‘herding cats’;
    3. a poetry lover; and
    4. a believer that a vibrant Poetry Society is critical to the well being and future of poetry.

    I have the following aspirations:
    1. to correct, wherever possible, the mistakes that have been made;
    2. to ascertain what has happened over the last few months, not by a witch hunt, to ensure that such issues do not recur;
    3. to make the activities of the Board more transparent;
    4. to reassure the ACE that the Poetry Society is the best qualified vehicle for their funding.

    If there is anyone who would consider nominating me and/or would like further details of my background/experience I am happy to answer queries by e-mail to .

    Statement on PoSoc form:

    Currently residing in North Shropshire, I am a former practice manager for firstly, a solicitors practice in Hampshire, subsequently an engineering practice in Stoke on Trent. I had responsibility for finance, contracts (commercial and staff), IT and administration. I was a Pension Trustee for eight years and fully aware of the role and responsibilities of trustees. I am a poetry lover and an aspiring poet. I belong to a poetry writing group and know how important poetry is and can be for people in their daily lives. The Society is a critical organisation for the future and well-being of poetry through its role to “help poets and poetry thrive”. I want to use my skills to provide support and guidance to the staff who work hard on our behalf. As a member of the Board I would be looking to ascertain what has happened recently to ensure that such issues do not recur, to ensure, wherever possible, that the Board learns from any mistakes that have been made, to make the activities of the Board more transparent and inclusive for the membership and to reassure the ACE that the Poetry Society is the best qualified vehicle for their funding.

    Poetry Society member? Yes
    Do you intend to be remunerated for poetry services? No
    Proposed by: Angela France, Oliver Leech, Liz Lefroy
    Location: Shropshire
    Further post here.

    • Roddy Lumsden permalink
      August 10, 2011 1:20 am

      This recurring mention of the weasel word ‘transparency’ bothers me. What does it mean exactly? The recent situation seems to have been caused by the Board acting outside or their rules and remit. That should not mean that in future it cannot discuss possibilities, even controversial ones, without it being reported to members. When I was a board member, there were many discussions on the Society’s banking structure – should those minuted meetings be reported to members? I don’t think so. Should the discussions in a meeting where potential candidates for the Directorship or Editorship are evaluated be made public? Of course not, and it would probably be illegal to do so. The Board need to be able to discuss issues related to the Society in private and only when anything of unexpected import raises its head should the issues be put to members.

      • August 15, 2011 10:55 am

        Just as a point of interest, Roddy, there is a growing trend for panels of student reps to interview job applicants at schools… and when I was interviewed for a job in a youth charity there was a youth volunteer on the interview panel. So actually there is scope, and a model, for possible future involvement of members in the appointment of an editor – or even of other staff – if the Society decides it wants to go this way.

        ‘Transparency’ is a bit of a buzzword but basically it is on the same level as declaring interests. It’s to endure that conflicts are declared, that decisions are fair. Certainly people’s interview scores or whatever would not be made public! I think that would be illegal – though transparency means they are entitled to feedback if they don’t get the job.

  67. Eva Salzman permalink
    August 7, 2011 8:29 pm

    Since I’m away at the moment I for one would very much like to know about any candidates – thanks.


  1. Updates « Poetry Society members
  2. The Poetry Society Members’ Site « Poetry Society members

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