Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Nottingham Poetry Society at 70

Traditional poetry societies sometimes get a bad press, compared to the trendy (and often transient) stand and deliver/open mic elements of the poetry scene. But, as Clive Allen says in the foreword to Nottingham Poetry Society's Seventy anthology, "Along with the Arts Council, the universities, poetry magazine editors, small press publishers and organisers of literature festivals, they make up a sort of Poetry Welfare State." He goes on: "The modesty of poetry societies belies their enormous importance. They gather in out-of-the-way arts centres, WEA buildings, church halls.... [existing] on members' subs, minuscule (and rapidly disappearing) council grants. They depend on the generosity of people who willingly and consistently give of their time and energy... I owe much of my poetry life to poetry societies..." In the contributors' notes to this collection Adrian Buckner (a Five Leaves' poet) writes that he "owes his most enduring friendships in poetry to people he encountered at his first meetings" [20 years ago].

Nottingham Poetry Society has had its ups and downs, but its membership includes several fine poets. Adrian Buckner, one of ours, who is also editor of Assent magazine; Cathy Grindrod (one of ours sometimes), who has been the Derbyshire Poet Laureate; CJ Allen himself, who knows how to win poetry competitions as no other; Derrick Buttress, a poet who could have achieved more but loves the small press scene. I could mention others.

The NPS' secretary, in charge of production of Seventy, is Five Leaves' Pippa Hennessy (we obviously don't give her enough work to do here that she has free time interests) and there is a modest influx of new members. Happy birthday, Nottingham Poetry Society.

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