I shall be reading from new Horseshoe Press pamphlet ‘Thames Valley Texas’ next Tuesday at the Organ Grinder on Open Books second birthday. Without the hard work of the T S Eliot of Bus Drivers there would be no Open Book so thank you Neil Fulwood here’s to the next two years…
In a recent tweet or does one say Xeet recently I touched on the state of poetry and the diversification agendas which affecting the production and dissemination of poetry.
Levelling up should mean an equal levelling up in terms of diversity.
I just read this interesting article which suggests that this is far from the case.
In fact as I suspected with my recent re-engagement with the great and good of poetry the funding as always is being tipped into the usual pockets mostly ex-University ex creative-writing course graduates who are the major engine of change in all fields of literature as the world copes with the mass-production of a huge amount of OK writers and the very occasional genius.
In most cases the cleverest have just moved to where the money is ticked the boxes they need to and carried on.
In terms of levelling in any case there has never been in poetry a overwhelming central powerhouse. London has the big novel publishers but are we forgetting all the great regional iniatives like Morden Tower and Bloodaxe or Carcanet they always up north and there long been a Scottish Poetry Library and now there (part of new agenda no doubt) a Manchester Poetry Library although Manchester will soon be only reachable by steam train if government has its way.
This is how bad it got:
While its budget for the next spending round (2023-26) will increase by 2%, the DCMS has instructed that all of it – some £43.5m – must be spent on delivering the government’s levelling up agenda. That is, redistributing funding outside London, where possible specifically targeting 109 prescribed ‘levelling up for culture places’ across the country.
In fact as kevin points out :
In addition, to further redress the funding balance between London and the regions, London’s National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) will receive £24m less, a reduction of 15% over the next four years.
If this money was cut from past their sell-by date white middle class institutions like the gloriously bad Poetry Society and its absurd Poetry Competition that would be a good thing but no that money will be scraped from the little guys in Peckham and Bounds Green. Levelling up never touches those highest up the ladder. It the ones at bottom that drown as always.
The racial diversity Catch 22 of sending all the money to regions that in a majority of cases have a smaller BAME population than London is brilliantly analysed by Kevin Osborne. I am not going to restate what he puts much more eloquently.
If only people like Kevin had their hands on the levers of power we’d all be in a better place and maybe we wouldn’t need levelling up down or sideways in the first place.
I apologise for stealing his graphic but it too good not to use…
ACE is robbing Peter to pay Paul (sorry biblical metaphor) but true.
This Boris Johnson fuelled Regional Levelling UP Gravy Train hits the buffers circa the next general election .
The fount of all knowledge and the root of all evil:
More than 1,700 organisations applied to become part of the 2023–26 portfolio. Of these, 990 were successful and set to receive a share of £446mn over three years. This includes 276 organisations joining ACE’s portfolio for the first time. Of the 990 organisations, 950 have been awarded NPO status. The remaining 40 organisations have been designated ‘investment principles support organisations’ (IPSOs). IPSOs are required to provide creative and cultural activity that delivers against ACE’s investment principles, set out in its strategy for 2020–30: ‘Let’s Create’.
The 2023–26 portfolio will replace ACE’s 2018–22 portfolio, which ends on 31 March 2023. The 2018–22 portfolio was originally due to end on 31 March 2022, however ACE granted a one-year extension for 2022/23 as part of its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Date for your diary: Tuesday 3rd October 2023, from 8pm. Open mic, headline sets from Shaun Belcher and Tony Challis; plus special appearances from some mystery guests. So head to the Overlook Hotel, er, I mean The Organ Grinder, Nottingham and join in the fun. Anyone missing out will be “corrected”.
One of the fabulous things about the modern poetry scene is the hatred of ‘self-publishing’ as somehow amateur or not professional…a opinion reinforced by those with most to lose i.e. the publishers.
GRASS CLOUDS contains everything I have written as ‘poetry’ since I arrived in Nottingham in 2002 so about 20 years worth
Contains 80 poems and some illustrations.
Includes the following pamphlets and projects:
Drifting Village Poems 2001-2011
Edwin Smith Commission 2014
Burning Books and Buying time 2017 – 2018
My Father’s Things (illustrated) 2019
At the Organ Grinder I shall be reading from the new volume ‘Substitute’ which I am working on now.
I have just figured out that Sphinx Reviews were the work of one person at Happenstance Press and that this excellent reviewer’s forum has sadly closed.
I had four reviews of my Salt pamphlet when it came out three on Sphinx. Without Helena Nelson I would have had just one. Helena makes good points on her blog about the necessity of good reviewing as part of the process of good writing.
I only reviewed poetry when living in Scotland and did a few for Lines Review.
My impression of the current poetry scene after a decade away is that it full of boosterism and a lot of social media ‘liking’ but that the overall standard of writing and reviewing has fallen. Ironically the amount actually published has multiplied a lot of it because now funded because it fulfills certain stakeholder’s targets which not the same as published because it good.
I intend to start reviewing again and I can assure Helena my reviews will be damning and crushing if needs be…..positive and supportive if needs be.
My sum total of personal reviews (minus a ‘crushing’ one I still think so bad it annoying as the writer hopelessly misread everything ) are posted here…
For further interesting posts on this subject see Helena’s blog here:
The original Sphinx reviews of my pamphlet including the stinker…ironically a poetry event I help out with featured the writer I was unavailable that evening 🙂
Tony Challis has been writing poetry since the 1980s, as well as short stories and memoir. He has had poems published in magazines local to Nottingham, has had a poem commended in a national poetry competition, and is Chair of Nottingham Poetry Society. Tony is also keen on performing his poetry at spoken word events and at poetry gatherings. He is a member of a number of poetry writing groups within which he hones his skills. He now has a substantial body of poetry written which he is keen to share with the world.
A Quick Queerbashing
It was only a five minute walk
across the main road to his ex.
Well-coiffed, in leather jacket,
fresh, smart and bouncing.
It was on the way back that it happened.
Times come when the search for words is dry,
when it is hard to maintain a dribble of chat.
He could not reply, only smile with his eyes.
The frame firmly placed over his face prevented
replies; bolted in place to help his jaw heal.
I had to keep a conversation going, talk
about my doings, mutual friends, shows….
He could write brief notes on paper, just.
If I had had a companion there might’ve been banter,
cross talk, jokes shared to liven his time.
I had read reports, how he had walked
in amongst a group of five, innocent,
blind to their baseball bats, uncomprehending
of their anger, of how they had failed to find
a victim at the hill-top water tower.
He would do; he was clearly queer.
They gifted him a metal plate in his leg,
a problem kneeling to unhelpful gods.
Did their own hearts scare them as they struck?
I recall the gratitude in his warm gaze.
Shaun Belcher is a multimedia artist and poet, originally from Oxford, now a retired teacher in Nottingham.
He has written poetry since his mid 20’s, influenced by his rural upbringing as well as wider themes of dislocation and global technologies.
He will be reading from new volume SUBSTITUTE