We are shocked that the Arts Council has decided to withdraw all funding from the Poetry Book Society, a widely respected and unique organisation that selects outstanding poetry collections for readers and libraries. The Society also administers the annual T.S. Eliot Prize, perhaps the most respected award for new collections of poetry in English, and has supported works in translation.
The PBS was established by the Arts Council at the suggestion of Sir Stephen Spender and both T.S. Eliot and Philip Larkin have served on its board. Its selectors have included our most highly regarded critics, academics and poets over the past fifty years. Thousands of people have been introduced to outstanding works of contemporary poetry, and poetry publishers have been given access to much wider readerships. The most recent readings by short-listed poets for the T.S. Eliot Prize staged at the Royal Festival Hall attracted the largest ever British poetry audience for many decades.
We ask the Arts Council urgently to reconsider their decision which will have a devastating impact on poets, publishers and, especially, on readers of contemporary poetry.