Letter from the Director - Spring 2005

Jules Mann

2005 takes off with a flurry – not just snow (even in London!) but poetry: David Constantine got a full house at London Review Bookshop, a fitting way to launch our Poetry Translation Series; judges came together after reading thousands of entries and came up with three distinctive voices in poetry, who were awarded top prizes in our 2004 National Poetry Competition; fifteen young poets – winners of the 2004 "Young National", the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award – tested their poetry endurance at an intensive five day residency course with their judges at Lumb Bank Arvon Centre; six poets, faculty from Nottingham Trent University, read at the Poetry Society while I travelled to Nottingham and spoke to a group of faculty and students about the Poetry Society; a week later we had our first joint event with the Wales Academi at the fantastic new Wales Millennium Centre with the second in our Poetry Translation Series.

We've also been keeping our printer busy, having just printed new Poetry Society membership leaflets, Foyle Young Poets of the Year booklets and National Poetry Competition 2005 leaflets. If you have places you'd like to distribute them, do get in touch with Helen or Lisa in our marketing department [email protected] or 0207 420 9895) and they'll send you a pile to distribute. I'd like to note that the Foyle booklets are especially nice anthologies of some terrific writing from up and coming young poets (last year's anthology won 'Pamphlet Choice' from the Poetry Book Society). We use it to encourage all young writers to submit their poems to the competition – it's free to enter, and really does provide an opportunity to nurture the "writers of the future".

Speaking of 'The Future', that is the theme for National Poetry Day 2005. We'll be announcing some specific activities in the summer issue of Poetry News, but meanwhile we're planting seeds of ideas for schools to work with Science Museums and Discovery Centres around the country. Local libraries will play a big part in this year's campaign, and some new national partners will include Voluntary Reading Help and Speak-a-Poem. In addition to a Poetry Society gala evening event at the Waterloo IMAX Theatre in London on Thursday, 6 October (details to be announced, but it will include poet laureate Andrew Motion as well as our 'Poetry Slambassadors'), the Poetry Society is pleased to be holding a National Poetry Day reading at the Beverley Literature Festival on Saturday, 8 October, featuring Jo Shapcott, Simon Armitage, Lavinia Greenlaw and Ian Duhig, hosted by our Chair Ruth Padel.

And the future would not be complete without a mention of the Poetry Society Centenary, just around the corner in 2009. While I was in Nottingham I met with, among other people, Jeremy Duffield, Chair of the Poetry Society of Nottingham. As it happens, and I quote from Cathy Grindrod's forward to a recent anthology of members' poems: "the Nottingham Poetry Society was originally the Nottingham Branch of the Poetry Society in London. In 1941, Margery Smith wrote to London and asked for the names of Society members living in the Nottingham area. She met with three other women and together they advertised and formed the Nottingham Branch of the Poetry Society". Apparently there are sixty years' worth of archives from the time they first met and formed the Nottingham Branch, which will be invaluable for our centenary research. As I've mentioned before, anything similar to this in other regions would be extremely helpful to know about in plenty of time for us to incorporate into the Poetry Society's centenary celebrations. Send anything you know about historical gems like this to [email protected]!

Have you visited our 'Poetry Landmarks' pages lately? It's a great way of keeping people informed about poetry activity in your area. These pages are updated weekly now, so you can submit one-off as well as regular events, in addition to the numerous other categories. And it's a good way to check to see where your nearest Stanza is. We won't be publishing personal contact details on the web, but will note where a Stanza exists and you may phone or email our office for more information. But of course, the first place to look right now is page 7. Poetry Society Council member Edmund Matthews and Membership Manager Carl Dhiman have been working together to help support these newborn 'Poetry Stanzas'.

Happy Spring.