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Poetry & Poets in Rags of August 2

Poetry & Poets in Rags of August 2
By rus bowden on 08/03/2011
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Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog:

We begin this week with a United Nations panel demanding that China release poet, activist, and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia. Wouldn''t it be great if by this year''s end, or even this summer''s end, this could happen. We follow this up with two articles about poet, activist, and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner having first talks with a governmental member of her country since her release. These are followed in News at Eleven by some terrific book reviews, a statement by U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin on the state of the ecology, another look at the fabulous-looking new building housing the Poetry Foundation in Chicago, and more--and I will get to our unique Back Page story shortly, so that in its intrigue, it does not over shadow some of the fine work that is being brought forth in our Great Regulars section. For a sampling, we hear from Fatima Bhutto in Karachi, a very nice follow up read to our News at Eleven link to a book review on translated poetry from Pakistan. David Biespiel, Linda Sue Grimes, Garrison Keillor, Ted Kooser, Wesley McNair, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Carol Rumens all bring us some of the poems that you will find in that section. As ever, Alison Flood brings us pertinent poetry news from the UK, including a story that will augment our Back Page article. Ange Mlinko and David Ulin bring us articles they''ve written that are not to be missed. And Frank Wilson has outdone himself with an excellent essay freshly posted to his column, "That''s What He Said."

Now the Back Page. The shenanigans surrounding the Poetry Society continue. I bring to you news, not from those who are employees of the Society, or Trustees of the Society, not even the acting Director of the organization, but what has for a large part been coming off a blog begun by Martin Alexander, which he has called "The Poetry Society". Now lest you begin thinking that it is all bad, it''s not. But it is terribly biased. This weeks'' news includes a petition to reinstate Judith Palmer as director, who quit on the Society a few months back, and the news that the Arts Council has suspended funding, something the board and the interim director Amanda Smethurst have surely been working on getting back. Alexander''s blog itself is not what it looks like at first glance, an open forum to discuss the important matters facing the Society, but a skewed, pruned and packaged set of essays and comments. For instance, my own opinions and comments have been deleted. All that is below, up to my signing off here, in full, is my e-mail back to Martin Alexander, after he informed me that he had deleted my posts.


HI Martin,

You deleted all my my posts.

I want to note here, and I want to cc Sarah and Frank in once again, to note that I spearheaded the movement at your forum to stop including Fiona Sampson and the alignment of her position on the organizational chart, as fodder for conversation. It was disruptive of getting the funding returned to the Poetry Society from the Arts Council.

You then say last night not to talk about Fiona and Judith, when the most popular article was Judith''s version of what took place this spring and summer, which included the thorn that the editor''s position was in her side. I want the case to be clear that Judith did not have to quit, leaving the funding at risk. And no matter what anyone told her she should have to say to the Arts Council, she could have refused to go along with whatever she felt was underhanded on the part of the trustees.

But at the time of her statement, there was a movement going on to re-instate her, which someone else noted may be a disruption to what the handicapped board had put into place, the interim director Amanda Smethurst. But, enough people felt that the item put forth by George Szirtes was reasonable, such that Judith could do it best, and so ensuring the return of the funding she put at risk when she quit. So the petition has now garnered 1,000 signatures..

Now that the petition has been brought forward to the handcuffed board, you want a moratorium on discussing either Fiona or Judith. In other words, throwing Fiona under the bus with all the talk about how the re-alignment interfered with the funding, was useful to getting the 1,000 signatures, and certainly useful in getting the no confidence vote at the EGM. But now that it is done, both Judith and Fiona are off topic.

Something else that I have been spearheading, which you removed trace of by removing my posts, is addressing the issue that the good and intelligent people who took their positions as trustees, said that they did not know of ACAS services, that they did not know pro bono legal services were available. The argument is that they should have known. The pragmatic answer to that is that they did not know--not one of them knew. If they did not know, then their induction onto the board was made without strong enough orientation. This was seconded when Sheenagh Pugh phrased it as a need for better training, and thirded when Sheila Hillier also recognized that training of these volunteers was obviously wanting.

Thirdly, in the case of the legal matters, I want to address the post you began deleting my posts with, about the notification I made to Harbottle & Lewis yesterday, noting that if it was wrong for the Board to give the Poetry Society''s money to Harbottle and Lewis, then it was wrong of them to accept it. I know that Leah Fritz had spearheaded the move to retrieve a portion of the funds back from the attorneys, with the bid for charity. My case is that, the attorneys should have advised the Board that pro bono work was available, since they were hired to advise. It cannot in this case be unethical for the Board to have given the money, and ethical for Harbottle & Lewis to have accepted it. Another caswe is possible, because we have not heard the all of it, that maybe the board saw the need for legal representation beyond what ACAS could offer. If this was the case, then they did not act unethically.

One of the most important things to relay is that you misrepresent the discussion you pretend to foster by deleting my posts. I am not being disagreeable here. You say too that you deleted other people''s posts. I have seen no spam put on your site, which I understand is your personal blog to do with as you personally wish. But this means that what you have is Martin''s view, and only the discussions that Martin wants to discuss, in the way he wants to discuss them. The problem is that people cannot immediately see the misrepresentation that you make by deleting as you have, and it is being used by newspeople.

Okay, so Frank and Sarah are being cc''d, and let me add some columnists and editors who love poetry, Bryan Appleyard, Bob Hoover, Judith Fitzgerald, David Ulin, Olivia Cole, and John Timpane. And I should definitely include Fiona Sampson, so that she knows how you are manipulating matters, George Szirtes so that he is abreast, a truly important contributor in all this, and Alison Flood who has been great in her articles bringing word out about what is going on--if I get her e-mail correct. The importance in letting these people know about the shenanigans at your blog, is so interested and caring parties know that the news through the blog is more skewed than is apparent, that there is much latitude to be assumed beyond the fact that the blog does not have the points of view of the sitting trustees, nor any current employees of the Poetry Society, although it has its name, and even though charges have been made against some of these good people in Judith Palmer''s and Kate Clanchy''s statements that you published. Indeed, maybe the most important point of view for a balanced discussion now would be from Amanda Smethurst, the interim director, who has wisely said nothing on your site. Nor is the point that I get agreement from anyone who is cc''d in. It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement, as I have made clear in the posts that you have deleted, nor is it about defending anyone as I have pointed out, but about addressing the issues, and keeping the lines of communication open, in the face of all the political maneuverings and machinations that are taking place.

To those copied in:

For ease of access, here is Martin Alexander''s blog, which he calls "The Poetry Society":

There are indeed some good resources there having to do with the ongoing debacle that has become the actual Poetry Society. For instance Judith Palmer''s statement on why she quit (quite the scoop), and an audio of the extraordinary meeting, the full EGM that took place last month when the vote of no confidence was leveled against the board of trustees by the members. But you will also note the tone of politics that comes through as people call other people out on different counts. There is also a mob mentality taking place, one that has now bounced me out of the discussion (maybe partly because I noted the mob mentality), but as you can see from Martin''s e-mail to me below--one that I will not call laughable, as he has chosen to call my contributions, but sad.

And if you are at all interested, since last night, here is my Facebook documentation thread, which I began when Martin began his "pruning" of ideas off the blog:



Thanks for clicking in.


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© By rus bowden On 8/3/2011 12:00:15 AM
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