Members of the Poetry Society, including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, have started a petition to reinstate Judith Palmer as director of the embattled society in hope of a "new start".
The petition follows the departure of Poetry Society director Judith Palmer, president Jo Shapcott and vice-president Gwyneth Lewis and others, and an extraordinary general meeting earlier this month at which the society's board of trustees also agreed to stand down.
Proposed by Hungarian poet George Szirtes, and also backed by Liz Lochhead, Scotland's national poet, Gillian Clarke, national poet of Wales and Jo Shapcott, former Poetry Society president, the petition calls for the trustees to restore Palmer to the post before 19th August, with the intention of restoring the Arts Council's confidence. It also calls on the trustees and the society to "work with all parties concerned to identify and resolve the underlying problems which led to the breach, using all appropriate processes of the constitution and recognised good practice for meditation".
The petition also states: "As readers of poetry, poets, and members of the Poetry Society, we are distressed that the Poetry Society has experienced problems of governance so severe that the Arts Council has suspended its grant funding." It calls for the changes "without apportioning blame and in the interests of a new start; and as the best hope for the society which serves the art form we all love".
Earlier this week, Arts Council England said it was putting its quarterly grant payment of almost £78,500 on hold. It said in the wake of the internal row and investigations, the Poetry Society "needs to get its house in order".