Petition of a thousand voices calls to restore order at the Poetry Society

Over a thousand poetry-lovers, writers, publishers, teachers and readers have signed a petition to restore order at the Poetry Society.

Following last week’s stormy general meeting, which resulted in a vote of no confidence against the Society’s board of trustees, TS Eliot prize-winning poet George Szirtes launched the petition on Wednesday to restore the Director, Judith Palmer, to her position, which she resigned in May.

The petition asks for Ms Palmer’s reinstatement “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.”

Since Wednesday afternoon the petition – which carries the names of laureates Carol Ann Duffy and Gillian Clarke, Scots Makar Liz Lochhead, and the former Poetry Society president Jo Shapcott – has gained over a thousand signatures, including those of many well-loved poets including Simon Armitage, Roger McGough and Fleur Adcock.

The petition also attracted the support of novelists Linda Grant, Helen Dunmore and Tim Parks, independent publishers Chris Hamilton-Emery, Neil Astley and Michael Schmidt, writer Marina Warner, and others.

George Szirtes said: “Poetry is recognised all over the world as Britain’s greatest contribution to international culture. The Poetry Society should represent the great power of poetry in this country and be a cause of pride. This petition is an attempt to ensure that it can be so.”

Poet Luke Wright, who runs workshops for pupils of all ages as well as adults, said: “The Poetry Society does all kinds of amazing work with all kinds of amazing people, showing them how poetry can connect with their lives. This is the Poetry Society I know and love and I think we all want them to keep on doing it.”

The petition can be read here.

George Szirtes and Luke Wright are both available for interview. Please contact Katy Evans-Bush on 07931 563408 or [email protected]


The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 and has a mission to “advance the study, use and enjoyment of poetry.

Judith Palmer had recently secured an increase in the Arts Council grant from £262,000pa to £360,000pa starting in 2012-13. The current grant is currently being withheld due to the Poetry Society’s current situation.

A verifiable account by Judith Palmer of the events leading to her resignation statement, as well as other documentation of recent events, can be found at

Other signatories of the petition include:

Jackie Kay
Michael Horovitz
Matthew Sweeney
Owen Sheers
Lavinia Greenlaw
Douglas Dunn
Philip Gross
Imtiaz Dharker
Penelope Shuttle
Gwyneth Lewis
Ian Duhig
Naomi Alderman
Desmond Clarke
Colin Ford
Vicky Feaver
Jen Hadfield
Maurice Riordan
Alistair Niven
Roddy Lumsden
Kei Miller

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