Poetry Book Society winds down activities

Poetry Book Society winds down activities

The Poetry Book Society (PBS) is winding down after more than 50 years supporting and encouraging the art of poetry and the sale of poetry books, with all staff made redundant.

Founded in 1953, the PBS has worked as a book club for committed poetry readers, offering selections of the best new poetry collections of the quarter, chosen by the poet selectors.

Inpress, a not-for-profit organisation that provides marketing and distribution services for independent publishers, will be taking over the book club portion of the society and will continue to provide PBS members with the quarterly selectors’ choice book of poetry and bulletin. Management of the T S Eliot Prize, previously handled by PBS, meanwhile, has been assumed by the T S Eliot Foundation.

In this new capacity, the society will maintain its branding and members, but all its three staff have been made redundant.

While the PBS was awarded funding from Arts Council England (ACE) for the Next Generation Poets 2014 promotion,​ its "national portfolio" state funding was cut in 2011. Poetry publishers - a total of 43 - petitioned Arts Council England at the time saying the demise of the organisation would lead to a "considerable loss of sales". 

Director of the PBS Chris Holifield said: "It's obviously very difficult to run an arts organisation with no state funding. We lost our national portfolio funding in 2012. It was fantastic to have so much support from so many people - but in the end the decision had been made and it wasn't changed."

Noel Murphy, chair of the Poetry Book Society, said: “As a very small charity, it has become increasingly hard for the PBS to maintain all of its activities, the book club, the T S Eliot Prize and its poetry tours. After exploring all alternatives the trustees have concluded that it would be in the best interests of all of our stakeholders and the poetry world in general if we transferred our most important activities to organisations better resourced than ourselves to support them over the long term. On behalf of the Trustees, I would like to thank the staff of the PBS, Inpress, the T S Eliot Foundation and ACE for all of their efforts over the last few months to conclude this reorganisation.”  

Ian Grant, chairman of Inpress, added: “We are pleased and honoured to have been entrusted with maintaining and developing the service to members of the PBS, whose loyalty and support of poets and readers has been a significant and positive feature of the poetry world for more than 60 years. We look forward to corresponding with them, hearing their views and we hope meeting many of the them in the coming months.”