Have you visited the Poetry Trust’s website recently? In my opinion, it showcases the democratic internationalism of the Trust’s vision and I only hope that something is being done to save and relocate some of these exceptional resources for future generations of readers and writers.
If you’re involved in education – whether of the young, or of adults keen to read and write a few more poems for themselves – then I recommend that you spend some time reviewing the Trust’s online legacy…
Sooner or later, the Trust’s online hosting service will demand cash to keep them online for another year and, at that point, my guess is that the website will be closed.
The Poetry Channel
There are some incredible readings and valuable interviews on the Poetry Channel. For me, Alice Oswald’s interview with Ariane Koek, ‘Poetry and Landscape’, is an important teaching tool and was especially useful when sharing the poetry of Thomas Hardy with A level students. Other readings and interviews have offered great personal pleasure; if you missed them, check out Seamus Heaney’s 2010 reading and interview, and Thomas Lux’s Aldeburgh Backchat.
These interviews and readings allowed the Poetry Trust to democratise their flagship festival, to share the best with the wider world. My hope is that these precious recordings will find a home elsewhere – they could offer a lasting legacy, bringing new audiences to poetry.
The Poetry Toolkit
Schools are cash cows and an industry, dedicated to the creation of classroom resources (regardless of quality), seeks to monetise our professional fears and insecurities. In English departments across the land, you’ll see posh ring binders chock full of untouched photocopiable resources to assist with the teaching of poetry. Needless to say, they all cost top dollar.
The Poetry Trust created The Poetry Toolkit: foolproof recipes for teaching poetry in the classroom. There’s an acute need for this sort of stuff. As I’ve mentioned before, Andrew Motion’s research indicates that UK English teachers lack confidence in this area and the Poetry Toolkit is a great resource, one I hope someone can adopt and find a new shop window for.
Request that the British Library archives the website
I would like to thank the Trust for its support of this blog.
When Poor Rude Lines started, I was looking for readers – for a validation of the project. A number of people were encouraging, despite the fact that the blog was months old and contained a handful of posts. Mat Merritt’s Polyolbion, The Poetry Archive and the Poetry Foundation gave me welcome publicity. Nell Nelson at HappenStance and the poets Matthew Stewart and Olivia Byard have been stalwart supporters from the first and Naomi Jaffa, then the Trust’s Director, made it clear that she was considering me as a possibility to fill Katy Evans-Bush’s fabulous shoes and blog for the Aldeburgh Festival. From that point on, I was reading and reviewing regularly, with a clear sense of audience and purpose.
Naomi’s endorsement was typical of the Trust: it would have been so easy to run it like a personal FIFAdom. However, the Trust developed talent wherever it could find it (the Aldeburgh Eight) and its policy of refusing to invite a poet to return to the Aldeburgh Festival to read a second time within ten years kept it fresh – as did its internationalism.
I am a johnny-come-lately – my association with the Poetry Trust was, sadly, all too short. But I am gutted. Gutted, gutted, gutted. Measured by any standard, the Poetry Trust was an exceptional arts organisation and it will be sorely missed.
Michael, Naomi and Dean, your graft, sweat and tears achieved something spectacular. I told Naomi that I would vent my spleen but, having taken some time to think about it, I would just like to say ‘thank you’.