Jules Mann - Posting #6

January 31st 2000

Topic: Poetry Strategy for future projects

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my previous (January 18) article about new ways of promoting poetry - building poetry audiences and readers. Some ideas and responses that were e-mailed to me are posted on a separate page (press here).

This issue of Poetry Audiences will underpin all future work I do here to discuss the issues of poetry residencies. Meanwhile, our goal of creating a 'Poetry Strategy' for future residency projects beyond Poetry Places is coming together. The basic outline is as follows, and if it generates any questions on your end, or if you have resources you'd like us to include, please e-mail them to me at [email protected].

Poetry Strategy Outline 

I. Creating a Poetry Place

A. Your Agenda

1.1-off training day
2.Short-term placement
3.High-profile residency of 6-months to a year
4.Employee/staff personal development, motivation, skills
5.Community outreach, or reaching under-served communities
6.Lifelong learning
7.Arts sponsorship
9.Youth programme
10.Senior programme

B. About The Poet

1.What poets do
2.Issues around how to find and fit one
3.What a poet gets out of the residency

C. About the Organiser

1.General qualities needed (creative and organised)
2.Tips and techniques for working with colleagues and bosses to overcome poetryphobia

D. Case Histories from Poetry Places

1.Model projects
2.Pitfalls to avoid

E. Making it happen

1.Time plan - how much to allow before, during and after
2.Finding a poet
3.The contract - examples of contracts and poet fees
4.Press, marketing, and maximising poet's presence

F. Support and Resources

1.Regional Arts Boards
3.Writer/Reader groups
4.Books, courses, resources
5.Trust funds, sponsors and patronage

A word about the poet's role in developing partners: from generating a project to carrying it through, this is critical to a successful residency.

Take this example:
Gerry Loose, Poet in Residence at Glasgow Botanical Gardens, reports that from the day he was offered the Residency he 'embarked on a series of meetings to spread the word and enlist the cooperation of both individual artists and organisations'. Just to give you an idea of what this entails in numbers, he met with approximately 20 organisations, 10 poets and artists, and wrote articles for 2 publications about his plans for the residency. Out of these meetings, of course, many more contacts were generated and many will become future 'partners' to help actualise his ideas for the residency.

Meanwhile, in an ongoing attempt to categorise our several hundred Poetry Places in a meaningful way for future public access...

Here are several ways in which we will do this via the website:

1.Listing of Poets involved in the Poetry Places scheme - this is up to date with all reports to date: www.poetrysoc.com/places/poetsin.htm
2.Map of UK linking to list of all projects in a particular region
3.Categories - we currently list the Poetry Placements in a categorical list, but since so many of the projects incorporated several diverse elements, we will expand our full Category list to include each project in every category to which it applies.
Arts Centres and Museums
Business / Commercial
Civic / District Councils
Commissioned Work (poems and publications)
Environment (gardens, forests/parks, fisheries)
Literary Organisations
Public Art
Religious Institutions