Tuesday, December 07, 2010
No limits to where Australian poetry can go now! The news is out. For full information on Australian Poetry Ltd to be officially launched in the new year, click here. You’ll also see the team of staff now in place and the diversity in the group’s professional/arts experience.
This had to happen. There are too many challenges to working effectively long-term, especially at a national level …not to mention international! We need a heightened profile for poetry as an artform and Australian poets as noted members of the world’s poetry community; apt recognition from relevant government bodies and a broader field; a growth in support for the poet activists already working to promote poetry and other poets; support and new opportunities for poets at all levels – young, old, new or established, all cultures; an inspired capacity audience; a skilled and ample employee base to ensure all of the above. You can’t scratch along with skeleton staff, insecure incomes and the goodwill of volunteers forever – not if you’re serious.
In the case of the discontinuing Poets Union, I am very grateful to the volunteer poets who have made up the committees, produced the publications, organized Poets On Wheels, found the funding, hosted and promoted readings and tours, developed poetry awards and fellowships, sustained a membership of around 600 poets, and a whole lot else. But in any organization volunteers may come and go; volunteers may not be thick enough on the ground at a crucial time; volunteers however generous do not always have enough time at any given time; volunteers may in time burn out and volunteers who are poets do put their own writing time at risk. A team of staff will ideally have enough total hours and the wide range of skills and perceptions to do the big job.
There is still a place for volunteers including volunteer poets. Poets have diverse professional backgrounds, on-the-ground experience and creativity. In the merging organizations they have brought wide-ranging skills, enriched the programs, broadened directions. The poet-volunteers will help keep the organization’s vision and priorities in sight and contribute to achievements of excellence - and so will members.
For those of us who have been subscribing to both the Poets Union and the much newer Australian Poetry Centre, from next year we will have only one subscription to pay (so there’s a saving). You can become a member of Australian Poetry, get up to date on developments and download the Australian Poetry National Strategy at the Australian Poetry Centre website. But I'll miss the Poets Union - what an act to follow.