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Fears over access to children's poetry after Arts Council cuts

Children's poetry is among the biggest losers in the children's literature sector following the recent cuts in Arts Council funding, it has emerged. As well as the Poetry Book Society (PBS) which has seen 100% of its funding cut, organisations Nawe (National Association of Writers in Education) and Windows Project, which took poetry into communities in the north west, have lost all their funding.

The PBS, which ran the Children's Poetry Bookshelf which highlights new poetry publishing and the Old Possums Children's Poetry Award, was asked to remove its children's poetry activities from its application for Arts Council funding even before it made its application for renewed funding. Chris Holifield, director of the PBS, said: "In a way the removal of funding from these organisations won't make much difference to publishers because the Arts Council wasn't funding children's poets or children's poetry publishing anyway. However, what the cuts have done is to remove the medium by which poetry gets to children. It is very odd that it's given funding to commercial organisations like Faber, but removed funding from Nawe which was instrumental in getting poetry into schools."

Holifield was also angered at the decision to put £1m into poetry during the Olympics. She asked: "What is the point of removing long-term, stable projects in favour of short-term programmes?"

At Nawe, which helps develop poets and writers and to get them into schools, director Paul Munden said: "We didn't see this (the cut in funding) coming. I can't see a strategic approach in these cuts. There is no other national organisation working with writers to share their work with others." He added: "The whole ‘writers into classrooms' movement was led by poets and they constitute a large part of our work."

The Arts Council said that its new National portfolio of organisations has "strengthened provision for young people to enjoy reading and creative writing". Performance poetry organisation Apples and Snakes will deliver a national engagement programme for young people and the Poetry Society already works with schools fpr its Foyle Young Poets prize.

Other literature organisations that have retained their funding include Booktrust and Seven Stories in Newcastle, where an increase in funding will help develop its touring programme.

The Children's Bookshow, which tours writers' events, is also now receiving regular funding. Director Sian Williams said: "We had been receiving annual funding from ACE but regular funding means that, for the first time, we will be able to plan ahead."
 

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I agree with Chris H point that giving money , tax payers money to a profit making organisation such as Faber is misguided. Why doesn't Faber take the risk of publishing 'new poetry itself' The reason Faber have had the nerve, and shame on them for doing so, with significant profits-to ask for core funding, is that the poetry scene has changed so fast, Faber is becoming marginalised, relying on dead poets, and tired well connected or Oxbridge people to fullfil their miserable list.

This is all about Faber asserting what it perceives to be their ' divine right'. But I'm afraid its too late....
In terms of Foyle Young Poets - this is so controlled, you have to have your English teacher's permission to enter, they have to counter sign the poem to authenticate the child wrote it! Mum and Dad don't count, nor do the growing numbers of home educated kid- they would be excluded.

Highly elist agenda and just what Faber want to happen.
Chris is also right about the Olympics, a lot of well connected poets and publishers making money again at the tax payers expense.

I think you could argue this is a deeply dehumanizing measure by government (humour me for a moment). If you define human beings as meaning-seeking animals with a penchant for abstract symbolic systems (i.e. language), then the formal poetry of something as seemingly simple as children's rhyming verse could be seen as a marriage between the greatest of human languages: mathematics (formal constraint), music (rhythm and rhyme), and the written word. Diminishing this at a formative age strikes me as wrong—but then again, I'm a children's poet.

We were turned down for lottery funding by ACE in May 2009 (£5,000) and July 2010 (£2,000). The John Betjeman Poetry Competition owes its existence to corporate sponsorship.

Hi Jonathan, I'd like to clarify the rules for Foyle Young POets of the Year Award. There is no 'permission' needed to enter: there are simply two ways to enter; either via a teacher or individually (anyone aged 11-17 can do this and we need only date of birth to confirm this). The Award encourages teachers (and poets who work in a school setting) to run creative writing lessons in which students produce poems to enter into the competition - which then go in as part of a whole class set entry. There is no 'authentication' needed - we simply ask teachers to write the name on the back of each poem to ensure that each one is properly identified - in a set of 30 or so you see this is necessary. Its a sheer administrative demand - we process over 20,000 poems so you can imagine deadly accuracy is absolutely vital, it is not 'controlled' just 'managed'!

The other way to enter is for young poets to enter online or by post; all information, rules, lesson plans, materials and guidance, plus the online entry form can be found on the website: www.foyleyoungpoets.org. I should stress too that entry, all all resources, remain free of charge. Hope this clears it up abit! With over 6,800 young people entering the competition last year, the award is going from strength to strength thanks to the support of the Foyle Foundation. Deadline for this year's award is the 31st July.

I think you could argue this is a deeply dehumanizing measure by government (humour me for a moment). If you define human beings as meaning-seeking animals with a penchant for abstract symbolic systems (i.e. language), then the formal poetry of something as seemingly simple as children's rhyming verse could be seen as a marriage between the greatest of human languages: mathematics (formal constraint), music (rhythm and rhyme), and the written word. Diminishing this at a formative age strikes me as wrong—but then again, I'm a children's poet.

I agree with Chris H point that giving money , tax payers money to a profit making organisation such as Faber is misguided. Why doesn't Faber take the risk of publishing 'new poetry itself' The reason Faber have had the nerve, and shame on them for doing so, with significant profits-to ask for core funding, is that the poetry scene has changed so fast, Faber is becoming marginalised, relying on dead poets, and tired well connected or Oxbridge people to fullfil their miserable list.

This is all about Faber asserting what it perceives to be their ' divine right'. But I'm afraid its too late....
In terms of Foyle Young Poets - this is so controlled, you have to have your English teacher's permission to enter, they have to counter sign the poem to authenticate the child wrote it! Mum and Dad don't count, nor do the growing numbers of home educated kid- they would be excluded.

Highly elist agenda and just what Faber want to happen.
Chris is also right about the Olympics, a lot of well connected poets and publishers making money again at the tax payers expense.

Hi Jonathan, I'd like to clarify the rules for Foyle Young POets of the Year Award. There is no 'permission' needed to enter: there are simply two ways to enter; either via a teacher or individually (anyone aged 11-17 can do this and we need only date of birth to confirm this). The Award encourages teachers (and poets who work in a school setting) to run creative writing lessons in which students produce poems to enter into the competition - which then go in as part of a whole class set entry. There is no 'authentication' needed - we simply ask teachers to write the name on the back of each poem to ensure that each one is properly identified - in a set of 30 or so you see this is necessary. Its a sheer administrative demand - we process over 20,000 poems so you can imagine deadly accuracy is absolutely vital, it is not 'controlled' just 'managed'!

The other way to enter is for young poets to enter online or by post; all information, rules, lesson plans, materials and guidance, plus the online entry form can be found on the website: www.foyleyoungpoets.org. I should stress too that entry, all all resources, remain free of charge. Hope this clears it up abit! With over 6,800 young people entering the competition last year, the award is going from strength to strength thanks to the support of the Foyle Foundation. Deadline for this year's award is the 31st July.

We were turned down for lottery funding by ACE in May 2009 (£5,000) and July 2010 (£2,000). The John Betjeman Poetry Competition owes its existence to corporate sponsorship.