Letter from the Director: Autumn 2007

The Poetry Society welcomes Stephen Corri who has just joined us as new General Manager – you can read more about him elsewhere in these pages, but I just wanted you to know that one of Stephen’s roles is to ensure that the Poetry Society's centenary in 2009 is truly a Year of Poetry in Britain. We are grateful to you, our members, for your support and we hope you’ll stay with us for the journey to our 100th year!

Despite floods and heat waves our regional Stanzas have certainly kept poetry activity flourishing over the summer and there’s even more looking ahead to September and October. A browse through our monthly Stanza News brings that vividly to life: open mic events, special talks, poetry and music, a reading group based on the Don Paterson article in Poetry Review, small gatherings in living rooms, and rigorous poetry ‘workshopping’.  See the membership news page on page 7 for details if you aren't involved and would like to be.

As we move from summer to autumn our flurry of activity here in the office turns to the Popescu Prize, National Poetry Day, and the announcement of the winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards. School is back in session, and this year marks a revised programme of study of English in secondary schools, with exciting potential for poetry: a) introduction of creativity as a key concept; b) introduction of cultural understanding as a key concept; c) providing pupils with opportunities to work with experts (e.g. poets) and write and speak for real purposes; and d) providing pupils with opportunities to develop their reading, writing and speaking and listening skills by making cross-curricular links with other subjects.  As ever, we immediately translate this sort of news into opportunities for us to advance the study, use and enjoyment of poetry – in this case specifically through our education programme.

In the last issue of Poetry News I mentioned podcasting – the Society received a grant to develop this part of our work, and we now have available on our website a variety of voices from our projects: winners and judges from the 2006 National Poetry Competition; young performance poets who participated in this year’s Slam project; interviews with several Foyle Young Poets; interviews with poets involved in Poetry International Web reflecting on poetry and internationalism; and interviews with the Popescu Prize judges.

We are sorry to note the passing of several distinguished poets since the last issue of Poetry News: Michael Hamburger, John Moriarty and Mercer Simpson.

On a happier note, Colette Bryce was awarded first prize in the 2007 Cardiff International Poetry Competition. And congratulations to Michael Rosen, the UK’s new Children’s Laureate – I urge everyone to read his laureate speech online at www.michaelrosen.co.uk/laureate.html, in which he sets out his aspirations for his two years in post. Each year poetry for children is celebrated by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Poetry Award – this year the award went to Julie Johnstone (as editor) for the anthology The Thing That Mattered Most: Scottish Poems for Children.

Enjoy your National Poetry Day, enjoy dreaming in/of/about poetry, and enjoy the autumn issue of Poetry Review magazine: 'Dreams of Elsewhere'.