Poets’ letter sent to ACE 4 April 2011

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Posted: 5 April 2011

Poets' letter sent to Dame Liz Forgan, Arts Council England

We are shocked that the Arts Council has decided to withdraw all funding from the Poetry Book Society, a widely respected and internationally unique organisation that selects outstanding poetry collections for readers and libraries. The Society also administers the annual T S Eliot Prize, the most respected award for new collections of poetry in English, and runs two new websites which promote poetry across the world.

The PBS was established by the Arts Council at the suggestion of Sir Stephen Spender and both T S Eliot and Philip Larkin have served on its board. Its Selectors have included our most highly regarded critics, academics and poets over the past 50 years. Thousands of people have been introduced to outstanding works of contemporary poetry, and poetry publishers have been given access to much wider readerships. The most recent Readings by shortlisted poets for the T S Eliot Prize staged at the Royal Festival Hall in January attracted the largest poetry audience in the UK for many decades.

The effect on the PBS of having its regular funding withdrawn by ACE will be devastating. From April 2012 the Poetry Book Society itself will be forced to close down with the loss of its membership activities and its promising new websites. The T S Eliot Prize, the most prominent English language prize for poetry, will cease to exist without the PBS to administer and award it.

We ask the Arts Council urgently to reconsider their decision which will have a huge impact on poets, publishers and especially on readers of contemporary poetry.

Yours faithfully

Carol Ann Duffy                                        Elaine Feinstein                                      James Lasdun
Lavinia Greenlaw                                     Micheline Wandor                                   Joanne Limburg
Clare Pollard                                            Jo Shapcott                                             Ian Duhig
Catherine Smith                                       Blake Morrison                                        Jackie Kay
Helen Ivory                                              David Morley                                           Dennis O'Driscoll
Julie Callaghan                                         Don Paterson                                         Moniza Alvi
James Carter                                           Gillian Clarke                                           John Foster
Zoe Brigley                                               J O Morgan                                             Angela Topping
Gareth Owen                                           David Harsent                                         Jane Routh
Deryn Rees-Jones                                    Fred D'Aguiar                                          Susan Wicks
Ruth Fainlight                                           Maurice Riordan                                      Owen Sheers
Frances Leviston                                      Christopher Reid                                    W N Herbert
Annie Freud                                             Desmond Graham                                   Todd Swift
Julian Turner                                            Pascale Petit                                           Geraldine Green
Jane Draycott                                           Stephen Romer                                       John Glenday
Douglas Dunn                                          Gerard Woodward                                   Patrick McGuinness
Ruth Padel                                               Penelope Shuttle                                    Nick Laird
Michael Hofmann                                     Bernard O'Donoghue                               Jane Duran
Mike Barlow                                             Philip Gross                                             Michael Longley
Brian Moses                                             John Haynes                                           Tim Liardet
Kate Clanchy                                           Bernardine Evaristo                                 Sean O'Brien
Pie Corbett                                              Mimi Khalvati                                           Peter Bennet
Martha Kapos                                          Carol Rumens                                          Naomi Foyle
Michael Roberts                                       Kathleen Jamie                                        Anne Stevenson
Clare Best                                                Colette Bryce                                          Wes Magee
Kathy Towers                                          Alan Brownjohn                                       Maura Dooley
Christopher Simons                                 Alan Gillis                                                 Roger McGough
Fiona Sampson                                        Simon Armitage                                       Simon Jenner
John O'Donoghue                                    John Fuller                                               Alan Jenkins
James Sheard                                         Sinead Morrissey                                      Judith Kazantzis
Robert Minhinnick                                    Jacob Sam-La Rose                                  Ros Barber
Simon Smith                                            Tom Chivers                                             Tobias Hill
Richard Price                                            Mark Ford                                                 Liu Hongbin
Daljit Nagra                                             Leontia Flynn                                           Choman Hardi
Cliff Yates                                                Valerie Bloom



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