Poetry Society reinstates Palmer

Poetry Society reinstates Palmer

The Poetry Society has reinstated Judith Palmer as its director after leading poets and members including poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy called for her to be returned to the post.

In a statement on the society's website, the board of trustees states that Palmer will return to the post on Monday [22nd August]. The statement says: "We are pleased that we have been able to agree Judith Palmer's return to the post of director with immediate effect and we now look forward to working with her again to start to bring stability back to the organisation."

The board also apologises for "any of its decisions, statements or actions that may have contributed to the current difficulties. The board suggests an enquiry may be helpful to ensure that best practice in governance will prevail in the future." 

A new board will be elected to the society at an a.g.m. on 14th September. Acting director Amanda Smethurst is to stay with the society until November as assistant director. 

Palmer's return to her post, after her resignation in May, draws to a close a difficult period for the society, in which the society's president Jo Shapcott, chairman of the board Peter Carpenter and financial officer Paul Ranford all also resigned from their posts. Earlier this week, poets Sean O'Brien, Don Paterson and Anne Stevenson also resigned from their honorary posts as vice-presidents of the society, with trustees Anne Jenkins, John Richmond and Jacqui Rowe also resigning as trustees. 

Hungarian poet George Szirtes proposed the petition, backed by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, as well as Scotland's national poet Liz Lochhead, national poet of Wales Gillian Clarke and former Poetry Society president Jo Shapcott, which led to Palmer's reinstatement. To date, 1,175 people had signed the petition. Speaking to the Guardian, Szirtes said he was "delighted", adding: "I think Judith has been very badly treated. I wanted to see that injustice put right."

However, question marks still remain over the society's Arts Council funding, which was suspended in the wake of the internal row, saying it needed to "get its house in order". 

In the Guardian, Palmer said: "They [ACE] need to be reassured that that is good stewardship of resources and I don't have any doubt we will be able to demonstrate that." She called the past few months "a major hiatus, but it is a major hiatus that is very bridgeable. Let us think of it as an unwelcome chasm that can be bridged".