Sunday, 31 July 2011
A cloud of support
Have you signed yet? These guys have...
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Saturday, 30 July 2011
An interesting thing happened a couple of days ago. I read an article in Civil Society with the headline Poetry Society Issues Full and Frank Explanation of Dispute. The 'Full and Frank Explanation' being referred to was the one read by John Simmons at the EGM... the one that was subsequently picked apart and scrutinised as a whitewash of trustee incompetence. That full and frank explanation.
I wrote to Civil Society, asking if their article had taken into consideration Judith Palmer's statement or indeed the audio-recording from the EGM. And guess what happened next...
The article was instantly modified to include a more even-handed account of events which referred to Palmer's statement and the secondary sources surrounding it... and I got an e-mail of thanks from the article's writer. "I have been in touch with the press officer all morning and all of yesterday and they neglected to advise me that this had ever been posted".
It would appear that Civil Society is not the only periodical to allow for a modified stance on the situation. I draw your attention to the following pieces:
- Guardian Letters - Betrayal of Trust at the Poetry Society
- The Independent - A row that shouldn't hide and important truth: poetry matters
- Civil Society - The Poetry Society Issues Full and Frank Explanation of Dispute
Whichever stance you choose to take in this debate, I think it serves as a fascinating example of how PR and the work done by PR companies has shifted from solid to liquid to gas in the age of Web 2.0 where the long tail wags the dog.
If you have not already, then I suggest you read Kate Clanchy on paranoid poets and this message from Anne-Marie Fyfe, former chair of the Board of Trustees. Both are important, well-written documents in and of themselves, but there is equal value in the representations of conflicting opinions occurring in the comments sections. Irrespective of people's personal bias, everyone involved in this conflict cares about the future of poetry.
NB. At time of writing the petition to reinstate Judith Palmer has 874 signatures.
Wednesday, 27 July 2011
Following my coverage of last week's Poetry Society EGM, the poet, ecologist and all-round top bloke, Professor David Morley, sent me the message 'you have done noble work but the story behind the story is still not told. It will come out eventually.'
This has come at least partly true today, thanks to the lengthy statement released by Judith Palmer which I have reproduced at the end of this article. Palmer's stance is adamance that a dispute between herself and the Poetry Review Editor was by no means the catalyst for the current situation, but rather incompetence and bully tactics from the Board. One of the more interesting / unpredictable things to arise from this statement is Todd Swift's reaction to it on Eyewear.
'The poets who organised the Requisition act as if they were blameless, but they are at least half the problem, in terms of bad PR. The media would hardly report a case of boardroom scuffling in a small arts organisation - but a widely-distributed email campaign to challenge the Trustees, well, that's news. In short - the damage that is being done is being done by these trickles and gushes from Facebook, email, and blogs.'
-Todd Swift's blog
George Szirtes has begun a petition to reinstate Judith Palmer, which you can sign by clicking here if you so wish. At time of writing it has 115 signatures. If I can be forgiven for interjecting with my own personal opinion here - if I were in Palmer's position then I almost definitely would not take the job back, nonetheless I think that anyone with an ounce of gratitude for the fine work of the Poetry Society under her direction needs to sign this petition now, or at least after you have read her statement.
Statement from Judith Palmer
(taken verbatim from The Poetry Society UK Blog)
(taken verbatim from The Poetry Society UK Blog)
On Friday 22 July 2011 members of the Poetry Society recorded a resounding No Confidence vote in its Board of Trustees at an Extraordinary General Meeting called to discuss the ramifications of the recent spate of resignations at the organisation. One of those resignations was mine, yet the Board neither invited me to attend nor to present my evidence to members. In the hope of ensuring that the meeting stayed focused on the Board’s alleged reckless financial mismanagement, and on the urgent need to call this to account to protect the Society’s future, I forwarded only a brief outline statement. Given comments made at that meeting, I would now like to expand on this here.
On 19 May 2011 I reluctantly resigned from my position as Director of the Poetry Society. I explained my reasons to the trustees, stating:
“I loved the job I had, and the team I worked with. I was proud of our achievements and was looking forward to delivering the 4-year programme which had just been agreed. In a few weeks, the Trustees’ unilateral decisions, have made the Society a very unhappy and unproductive place. There’s total confusion. Non-executive trustees have unilaterally taken over responsibility for areas of my job. Agreed staff procedures aren’t being followed. Funding relationships are being mishandled. I’m no longer free to run the organisation using my professional judgement, and under these circumstances I cannot be held responsible, if the organisation begins to fail.”
Decisions were increasingly being made that I had no knowledge of or influence in – decisions made outside the contexts of normal, open, minuted meetings. I had a duty to carry out the instructions of Trustees, but found myself unable to reconcile this with my obligations to staff, funders, and members.
When I left, the Poetry Society was in excellent shape. I wished it well, and hoped it would flourish under the good stewardship of the Board of Trustees.
These are some of the circumstances that led to my resignation:
On 30 March 2011, after a year of huge uncertainty about the Society’s future, we received the good news that our funding bid to the Arts Council had been successful, and we had been awarded a 31% increase in funding.
Two days later, I was called to a meeting by the Poetry Society’s Chair of Trustees, Peter Carpenter. I believed we were going to be discussing the urgent problems facing other organisations in the Poetry Sector. Quite out of the blue, I found there was something else on the agenda.
The Chair told me he’d been waiting until after the funding announcement to tell me about a proposal put to him by Fiona Sampson, the Editor of Poetry Review, a proposal that he’d been discussing with her since January without my knowledge. She requested a new working arrangement whereby she would reduce her days, work mainly from home, and report directly to the Board. I must emphasise that this was put forward as a permanent arrangement. It was initially communicated to me verbally and, a few days later, in writing.
The timing was completely unexpected. Although the relative integration / independence of the Society’s magazine Poetry Review within the Society’s activities had been a regular subject of debate throughout the Editor’s tenure, and long pre-dated my appointment, this had not been a recent subject of discussion.
In September 2008, before my time as Director of the Poetry Society, Fiona Sampson approached the Society’s Board of Trustees with a similar proposal. She requested that her fixed-term contract be made permanent and that the structure of the Society be altered to raise her status and allow her to report directly to the Board rather than continue to be managed by the Director. The Board rejected both suggestions (7 October 2008). The Arts Council was involved in the discussions, and supported the Board’s rejection of the proposal at a subsequent Board meeting I attended on 20 November 2008.
I queried with Peter Carpenter the timing of this revival of Ms Sampson’s proposal in 2011. We had only just submitted a detailed 4-year plan to the Arts Council that had been supported fully by the Board. The plan had reflected a fully-integrated Poetry Society, and this was the vision endorsed by the Arts Council. To make such a significant change now seemed to me both dishonest and dangerous. Our funding offer from the Arts Council remained only conditional.
Carpenter apologised, but explained that poets were putting pressure on him, the Board were going to split over it, and that Ms Sampson had suggested she would otherwise leave.
I raised serious operational concerns about how the proposal would work in practice, explained that many other members of staff would be affected and they would need to be consulted. I explained that the staff had all been working hard in an atmosphere of great uncertainty and did not deserve a major upheaval just when they were expecting to enjoy some well-earned stability. I must emphasise that I did not reject the proposal: however, I gave my opinion that the proposal was potentially destabilising and could jeopardise the Society’s future funding; and that our urgent priority ought to be playing an active role supporting those poetry organisations that had received cuts in funding, rather than looking inwards. I clearly needed more time to consider this. The Chair’s response was unexpected. I was forbidden to discuss the matter further with him, in an email dated 2 April, 11.36.
There followed, in my opinion, the most extraordinarily stubborn and ill-considered sequence of actions by the Board. A confidential Board meeting was called (4 April, 08.34). I petitioned the Chair four times to think carefully before preventing the Arts Council from attending the meeting as stipulated in all previous funding agreements. The Chair replied: (5 April, 08.09) “There is no need for ACE to know of the content of our board discussion… It is confidential to the board and thus only the business of the board.” I pleaded to be given the chance to gather information for the Board in order to help them make an informed decision. (5 April, 09.16). This was refused. I asked to know what would be discussed, and was told that it would be only ‘organisational structure and related issues’ (12 April, 09.31). I was not invited to attend the meeting, and neither were the staff who usually attended Board meetings (Paul Ranford and Rebecka Mustajarvi). However, I would be required to return, unaccompanied, to hear ‘the outcome of our discussion’.
I was unprepared for the nature of this confidential meeting on 13 April. With no independent witnesses present, and with no preamble, I was read out two Board decisions: ‘There will be a formal job evaluation of the Director’s role & responsibilities’ and ‘The Board accept the proposal as set forward by the Review Editor’. I asked to discuss this, and was told that that was inappropriate. There was no written proposal to discuss, no costings, no time-frame, no implementation framework, no staff consultation plan. I prided myself on running a professional organisation and I was responsible for safeguarding the employment rights of staff. I was responsible to funders and members for delivering against agreed objectives. If the Board were not prepared even to allow me input into such significant decision-making, I warned them I would have to consider my position. I further warned them that they were acting in disregard of my rights and interests and I might have to consider resignation.
This meeting was timed immediately before I was due to go on a long-planned trip to Australia, and I took the precautionary measure of sending a formal letter (17 April) requesting that no organisational change be made until proper discussion could take place on my return. The Board waited until my return, but implemented the proposed changes immediately and without discussion (10 May). Peter Carpenter confirmed he would “split off Poetry Review so it reports to me [Peter Carpenter]”. I feared this was the first step towards a much more profound separation of the Review from the Society.
As the Board began to take legal advice, they appear to have realized the depths of the hole they had dug for themselves. They insisted the restructuring proposal was not permanent, but just a 3-month trial (though with no end game declared for determining whether it would continue or not). And they appear to have tried to find things to justify their actions in retrospect. They maintained suddenly that the proposal was being implemented to ease my workload, for example; or that it was as a result of strangers talking at a party regarding an apparent rift. I do not accept that any actions were taken as a result of a desire to ease my workload, and I have been given no evidence of people talking at a party. Indeed, I have received inconsistent accounts of this alleged conversation. My job description was then re-written and casually presented to me. Finally, months after I left, I learned for the first time, from remarks made by the Acting Chair at the EGM, and reported in the press, that apparently Trustees were giving me a ’breathing space’ from contact with another member of staff – even though they had reassured me time and again there had been no complaints about my management.
I have also been told that Peter Carpenter rang the previous Chair, Anne Marie Fyfe, and asked that he be allowed to use an e-mail from her to “get at” me. I had previously telephoned Ms Fyfe to check a couple of facts about things from her time as Chair. Peter Carpenter then threatened me with the possibility of legal action over this supposed “breach of confidentiality”, and stressed there would be action taken if I talked about the Poetry Society to anyone again. This seemed patently absurd. My view is that both of these actions were attempts to discredit and intimidate me after I had raised my concerns over the way the Board were proceeding.
I raised concerns about the divisiveness of giving one member of staff preferential terms and conditions and perhaps making her feel isolated; I raised concerns about the need for proper consultation with staff; I raised concerns about the need to have a structured plan to avoid operational confusion; I raised concerns that there was no business case for the changes imposed; and I raised concerns about spending and funding. I also raised concerns about the way I felt I had been treated personally and what I felt to be unacceptable and unremitting bullying behaviour towards me.
If the Board were implementing organisational changes, I asked why they didn’t recognize the necessity of contacting the HR consultants we had on retainer for employment law advice – who could and should have been consulted, free of charge, and whose indemnity policy that protected the Poetry Society was now no longer valid as their advice had not been sought. An invoice from lawyers Harbottle & Lewis was presented to me, and I had to sign a cheque for expenditure that I had been unaware had been commissioned by the Trustees. I had previously secured the services of a legal firm pro bono for the Society, and was never asked if we had any existing arrangements in place before Harbottles were instructed. I believe Members and funders should have full information as to how funds are being spent, and it is for that reason that I raise this point.
Eventually, there was chaos, with different Trustees in and out the building, contacting different members of staff directly (rather than going through me as was usual practice) with random unplanned instructions. Trustees insisted I drop important planned priorities to attend unplanned meetings about their ‘organisational changes’. On one occasion the insistence that I attend a meeting at 24 hours’ notice prevented me from preparing for a presentation on which a £100,000 funded project depended. When I requested the proposed meeting be rescheduled to enable me to carry out my job effectively, my request was refused. I asked again if I could give my view on the place of Poetry Review within the structure of the Society, and was told (9 May) “please would you explain why you assume that the status of a meeting that members of the board choose to have with the Editor depends upon ‘the contents of our discussion’.
I wrote Trustees a letter (11 May) outlining my grave concerns about the consequences of the Trustees’ recent diversion from our agreed priorities for the current year. Included amongst my concerns was this: “It is a condition of Arts Council funding that the organisation tell the Arts Council if it wants to make significant changes to the agreed programme…We urgently need to discuss the further impact of recent events upon our Arts Council funding. I am concerned that the funding was awarded to us on the basis of a certain set of circumstances, which have now been fundamentally changed without any discussion with me let alone the Arts Council.” I reassured Trustees that we had an excellent relationship with the Arts Council, and in my professional judgement ACE would be supportive as long as we talked things through openly and honestly with them.
I found the behaviour of certain Trustees increasingly intimidating and on 17 May I received a direct instruction to conceal information regarding issues within the Poetry Society from the Arts Council at a forthcoming meeting. Despite the fact that our funding agreement insists “The success of the relationship relies on effective communication and the sharing of information”, I was told I must convince the Arts Council it was ‘good news, good news, good news’. I was told that if I let the Arts Council know I had any concerns about governance, I would face immediate disciplinary action. I had grave concerns about governance, and would not lie about this, and so on 19 May, I resigned. I felt I had no option but to take this step.
Peter Carpenter accepted my resignation, and on 20 May, he and Trustee (now Acting-Chair) Laura Bamford, arrived unannounced at the Society’s offices to cut off my email and tell staff they were not to let me back in the building. I was not in the office, since I had booked a day off. They didn’t think to tell me personally my employment had been immediately terminated and I would not be required to serve the notice that I had given them. I was on a train to Liverpool when a letter was couriered to my home address, which I therefore did not receive until two days later. Certain members of staff were apparently invited to read through my emails while I still remained uninformed that I was no longer working for the Society. There was to be no handover – no cancellation of meetings, no changing of bank signatories, no guidance notes left or to-do lists talked through.
This is only a brief summary of the events that led me to resign. It was not (as has been suggested) because of my working relationship with a member of my team or due to my workload.
To deflect attention from their own evident bad practice, it seems the Board have tried to throw people off the stench with false allegations about myself and Fiona Sampson, and the prospect of legal action.
I have not taken legal action. I have repeatedly reassured Trustees that I have no wish to take legal action. The Poetry Society’s Board of Trustees, however, has already spent £24,000 on legal advice – on a range of matters – in the few months since they first adopted a new management style and decided to step beyond the bounds of their usual remit. Last year, there was zero expenditure on legal advice. In addition to the £24,000 already spent this year, at least £3000 has been spent on unplanned additional PR, supposedly to mitigate reputational risk. To give you an idea what these sums mean to an organization like the Poetry Society, some of its staff earn around £17,500 a year. Imagine how those staff must feel, watching this wanton expenditure. Imagine how painful it is for us to contemplate the toil and the toll of raising the money that the Trustees have so recklessly thrown away.
Members must now ask whether these Trustees were acting in good faith and in the best interests of the Poetry Society. Given the current state of the Poetry Society’s Arts Council funding (suspended until further notice), the Board’s ‘no-one need know’ approach does not appear to have served the Society well. Out of concern for my colleagues I have been wary of making the Board’s actions public. It seems quite clear, however, that funding cannot flow again, until the truth is out and a new Board is up.
All of the above can be supported by letters, texts, emails, and witness statements.
Those Trustees on the Poetry Society Board throughout 2011 were Laura Bamford, Alan Jenkins, Emma Bravo, Jacob Sam-La Rose, John Simmons, Duke Dobing, Wendy Jones, John Richmond, Barry Kernon, Jacqui Rowe and Anne Jenkins.
Robyn Bolam and Peter Carpenter have since resigned.
Saturday, 23 July 2011
Following yesterday's historic and fraught meeting of the Poetry Society's Board of Trustees and some of its members, many fine people have felt compelled to write on the topic. I shall attempt here, to compile all the relevant responses so that the various opinions can be easily sourced.
- Jane Holland - A New Dawn for the Poetry Society
- George Szirtes - The Poetry Society: What Have We Learned
- Christine Michael - Dysfunction, disharmony, dissarray
- Jon Stone - But Can't We All Just Get Along
- Richard Fair - The Poetry Society EGM
- Kate Fox - Why being bored on a Board is a Good Thing
- Stephen Bates - Guardian Article
- Charlie Ashley-Roberts - #posocegm (poem)
- Polly Clark - Poetry Society EGM
- Michelene Wandor - Prêt à poetry in the Surgeons’ Hall
- Katy Evans-Bush - #PoSocEGM: The Post-Mortem
- Fiona Moore - Counting: Poets, Butterflies
- Rob Sharp - Article for The Independent (with open 'Comments' section)
- Niki May Young - Article for Civil Society Finance
Please do let me know if I've missed any out or if new ones pop up that you want added into the list.
Friday, 22 July 2011
“trustee n. (plural trustees)
A person to whom property is legally committed in trust, to be applied either for the benefit of specified individuals, or for public uses; one who is intrusted with property for the benefit of another; also, a person in whose hands the effects of another are attached in a trustee process.”
I write this having, just this minute, got home from the Poetry Society EGM which ran today from 14:00 until about 17:10. I write this post in the hope of giving as much undiluted/opinionated fact from the meeting whilst summarising points that will take some time to arrive from the full minutes.
I stress the fact that I make this post hastily from notes taken in longhand from a very long and wordy public discussion. If you feel that I have made important omissions or misrepresentations then there are instructions at the end.
As in my previous post, I wish to present these facts in a logical order, rather than a chronological order, under suitable subheadings.
Why the lack of Twitter coverage?
The meeting was held in a lecture theatre with practically no WiFi or 3G coverage. The only person who was able to give regular updates was Jacob Sam-La Rose, a member of the Board. Interestingly, he did this using the #posocegm tag advertised on Silkworms Ink yesterday.
I suggested halfway through the meeting that it was not appropriate for a member of the board to be using the official Poetry Society Twitter-Feed, let alone be the only source of live information to the outside world.
Resignation of the Board and Vote of No Confidence
The first thing announced by the Board is that they would all resign, effective of September. The reason for this deadline being that this is how long they felt it would take to ensure a smooth transition to a new board.
By the end of the EGM however, the Board’s resignation was not enough to satisfy the members present and there was a Vote of No Confidence in which 302 voted for, 69 voted against and 11 abstained.
Discussions very soon moved onto calls from a few (not all) members from the floor who wanted an immediate resignation from some/all members of the Board. It was pointed out that there need to be at least 5 board members at any one given time. Kate Clanchy asked members of the Board to publicly stand down at the meeting – she did not have the full support of the room, despite saying “I speak for everyone here...” several times.
The Root of the Issue (via John Simmons)
The meeting began with an overview of the issue from John Simmons. Here is the narrative that I garnered from it…
It was made absolutely clear that the entire issue stemmed from the breakdown in the working relationship between Poetry Society Director, Judith Palmer, and Poetry Review Editor, Fiona Sampson.
Judith Palmer was single-handedly behind the Arts Council proposal this year which was met with an acceptance and the promise of a substantial increase in funding.
The increased workload of such a successful grant created increased stress for Judith Palmer and it was the view of the Board that she should take an extended vacation whilst some of her workload was delegated.
Around this time ‘people’ were publicly commenting on the personality clash between Palmer and Sampson and the Board felt the need to address this. The Board decided that, for a fixed 3 month period, Sampson would report to them directly rather than go through Palmer due to their untenable working relationship.
John Simmons suggested that there was not time to discuss this properly and so they went ahead with this arrangement without Palmer’s knowledge or consent. Palmer soon resigned with immediate effect.
For perceived legal reasons, the Board and the Society were silent about this. Simmons stated that “our silence fuelled the flames of conspiracy”.
The situation, as it now stands, is that there is no guarantee of the Arts Council Funding ever finding its way to the Poetry Society and all relationships between all the Society’s stakeholders are marred. More damaging still, the Society’s recent expenditures on legal advice make a significant financial strain on them.
Key elements of this narrative were picked apart and scrutinised over the course of the meeting, as I hope to discuss later on in this post.
The Hitler Video
The Board mentioned that, of all the criticism and conspiracy theory that they faced during the past months’ events, the most hurtful was the ‘Downfall’ parody video which likened several Society members to Nazis.
Paul Ranford – Finance Manager
First participant in the Q&A session was Paul Ranford, the Society’s resigned finance manager and teacher of Business Studies. His argument in full can be read here. I shall provide some of the key points of what he (very eloquently) said…
Ranford began by saying that ‘today is a time for sensible words… sensible words.’ He is incredibly concerned that the Society’s Arts Council relationship has been upset and that the Society’s reputation has gone from its absolute height to its absolute lowest.
The financial reserves built up by the Society over 100 years are at roughly £120,000 – if recent legal fees were to continue then this would be very easily depleted. Ranford made mention that talks had been had about valuing the Society’s current Betterton Street property in light of potential funding cuts.
Ranford finished by stating that the Board absolutely failed to support their director when she needed it most and that the ‘sensible words’ he had heard today were not enough.
Large applause soon followed.
Katy Evans-Bush – Where was the HR procedure?
Katy, who has extensive experience of working in the public sector, coupled with extensive experience of conflict resolution, intimated that she was shocked at the apparent lack of procedure involved here.
How is it that the Poetry Review Editor was able to unofficially voice a grievance directly to the Board, circumnavigating the Director and have the issue dealt with that way? Is there a clearly laid out procedure for HR conflicts in the Poetry Society and were they followed? Was a formal grievance ever even officially filed?
There was no formal grievance ever filed and the Board admits that the measures taken were drastic. It was felt by the Board that the two employees needed ‘breathing space’ from each other.
Evans-Bush pointed out that Palmer was never consulted over this ‘breathing space’ and therefore enforced breathing space is tantamount to exile and banishment.
At this point, Niall O’Sullivan turned to me and mouthed the word ‘bull’s-eye’.
Tom Bell, Union Official – What about acas?
Why were none of the professional organisations such as acas not consulted so that trained professionals could guide the resolution in a fair-handed way? Bell made it clear he felt that a Board who intervenes without use of official grievance procedure should resign.
Barbara Cumbers – FS’ contract and JP’s resignation
Barbara asked to know where the grievance between JP and FS stemmed from, and she inquired as to whether it was linked in with comments made about FS receiving increased pay and reduced hours. Paul Ranford produced the minutes which corroborated that Sampson’s working week would be reduced from 4 days to 3, and that he was asked not to reduce her pay.
The response to this was that the arrangement was only temporary (this phrase was used a lot today).
Cumbers’ secondary question was why was it deemed inappropriate for the Director of the Poetry Society to work through her notice period?
The response to this was that “there were a number of occasions where process and procedure weren’t being adhered to [by Judith Palmer]”.
The Board of Trustees have been seeking, at great expense, professional legal advice having supposedly received several threats of lawsuits from Judith Palmer. Here are a few discussions that arose from this issue:
Question from the floor: Why were you going to the same lawyers used by Rupert Murdoch when there are several law firms set up who are specifically geared towards advising small charity operations such as the Poetry Society?
Answer from the Board: We didn’t know that such companies existed.
Question from the floor: Did you ever receive written legal threats from Judith Palmer with regards to this issue?
Answer from the Board: No. Only verbal threats.
Question from the floor: If you were dealing with a stressed employee, whom you were attempting to support through times of great difficulty, why did you treat a verbal threat as anything other than a ‘heat-of-the-moment’ thing and go down the path of paying for expensive legal advice?
Answer from the Board: The threats were more than a single incident – several people were threatened with legal procedure by JP on a variety of occasions. It is in the interest of any company to seek advice when threatened with legal action.
Pre-Interval – A call for a vote
Philip Polecoff (thank you to Tammy for spelling) suggested that the Board could be nothing but completely ‘lame’ until September and it could only be be damaging to have a stagnant Board resolved to do nothing until then.
(Cut for commercial break)
The conversations taking place during the interval were frantic, emotional, passionate and, to an extent, factional. Some felt that they wanted the Board gone immediately following a Vote of No Confidence. Others felt that such a knee-jerk response in an emotional state would be more to do with vengeance than what is good for the society.
The Build-up and The Vote
Laurie Smith announced the motion that, in light of today’s meeting, the members of the Poetry Society present today wish to make a vote of no confidence against the Board of the Society.
Alan Brownjohn stated that he cannot endorse such a vote as it was in no way mentioned on the meeting’s agenda and that it would be nothing but damaging to all concerned. There was an amount of support for this opinion by those who felt that nothing should be finalised in the heat of such an emotive meeting.
Amidst all this was an obscene amount of umming/ahhing about the propriety of a show of hands, a ballot, a poll or any other form of proportional representation. Much grumbling ensued and the vote was finally passed. The results, as you know, 302 voted for, 69 voted against and 11 abstained.
Interim Board Members
4 candidates were put forward to be co-opted as Board Members in the interim between now and the September AGM. Amongst them was Michael Schmidt – questions were asked over the propriety of a PN Review employee being a Poetry Society Trustee but the Board seemed not to see this as a large enough conflict of interest to put him out of the running.
No massive story here – I just had a short chat with him after the meeting about his experiences of Jamie’s Dream School. Really Nice Bloke in person.
So, I’ve surely missed a lot of very important details out of this report. I’m sure that, in my furious note-taking I may have misrepresented certain issues. If you feel that this is the case, then please do write to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or tell me over twitter or in the comments section of this post, and I will happily happily happily add edits and appendices to the end of this piece of writing.
The Board of Trustees at this meeting were Laura Bamford (chair), Emma Bravo, Duke Dobing, Alan Jenkins, Anne Jenkins, Wendy Jones, Barry Kernon, John Richmond, Jacqui Rowe, Jacob Sam-La Rose, John Simmons.
Appendix 1: The Trustees
The Board of Trustees at this meeting were Laura Bamford (chair), Emma Bravo, Duke Dobing, Alan Jenkins, Anne Jenkins, Wendy Jones, Barry Kernon, John Richmond, Jacqui Rowe, Jacob Sam-La Rose, John Simmons.