Thursday, 28 July 2011

The Poetry Society

Recent articles in the Times and the Guardian may have left some people bemused as to what has been happening recently at the Poetry Society. For an excellent, clear sighted summary of recent events, including statements from some of the people concerned, the website of the members of the Poetry Society is here. There has also been an equally insightful analysis on George Szirtes site here, where you can find other useful links. George has initiated a petition calling for the reinstatement of the Director.

This is important, not just for members of the Poetry Society or for writers and readers of poetry, but for everyone concerned with issues of transparency and fairness in any organization. It raises the issues of how organizations are managed and how a Board of Trustees are in positions of trust and are accountable to their members, and what can happen when democratic procedures are not followed.

This kind of disconnection can happen in an employment situation, between employers and employees, between boards and members, between governments and citizens, which is why we have laws and procedures to protect members whether of a Society or society in general – and why, ultimately, we have the Declaration of Human Rights to enshrine these protective measures. So this is not just some storm in a delicate bone china teacup not some 'personality clash', but addresses a fundamental principle of fairness and openness. This principle is a bedrock of the larger society, democratic and open, where we are kept informed, where we have the opportunity to have our say, which we are fortunate enough to be part of. But we may also need to defend this principle, if necessary.

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