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The Poetry Business

6 November 07 words: James Walker
The Poetry Business in Huddersfield is under threat after twenty one successful years of publishing. It's time to sharpen the pencils and go to battle...

The Poetry Business in Huddersfield is under threat after twenty one successful years of supporting and promoting new writing. This has come about after 40% of their funding was withdrawn by Kirklees council for the next three years. It would seem that local councils are no longer content with refusing to collect wheelie-bins and have now spread their tentacles into literature. What must be particularly frustrating for owners Janet Fisher and Peter Sansom is that it blatantly contradicts Kirkless Councils values 'to create a portfolio of partners which represent a good spread of art forms; a good spread of creative work with communities of interest; and a strong creative infrastructure', rendering it nothing short of tokenism.

So how has this happened? Well a sceptic would say that funds within the council have been poorly managed and so the proverbial plug has to be pulled somewhere, someone has to pay for the appalling sickness record of the public sector. The reality, however, probably lies in the Blair legacy. Put simply, market forces rule. If a provider is not producing ‘best value’ – a KPI (Key Performance Indicators) and all of that other governmental double speak then the funding can be pulled or tendered out elsewhere. But, should this be the case, it is ludicrous. Firstly, poetry is internal not external and comes from the soul, the heart, things which do not conform to a cold rational framework of logic and so these particular appendages make no sense. Secondly, let’s believe the hype for one moment and say that they do make sense. How can a publisher who have been around for twenty one years and has made, according to Ian McMillan, Huddersfield synonymous with poetry, failed to deliver their targets? Just to prove their influence, please see our review of the Textual Generation.    

So why are Leftlion so concerned about a poetry business in Huddersfield? Simple. We folk in Nottingham are fighters, not gun totting bad asses like the red top brigade would have you believe, but fighters born of the Sillitoe generation, prepared to stand up together against all the propaganda. That’s why our ancestors built two lions in the market square rather than a mouse and a lump of cheese. So we want to offer our support in recognition of their work and also because this is a nationwide warning to other publishers, of the government’s growing contempt for the arts, a trend which has already had devastating consequences since the National Lottery forgot why it was created in the beginning.

But perhaps most importantly, we support this cause because we believe in the power of the written word, if we didn’t we wouldn’t have invested so much time facilitating our own creative writing community. Poetry is important because it offers contemplation, self reflection and beauty. These are all facets missing from modern living. If you want to solve crime you don’t bang people up, build more prisons and tell spotty teenagers they can’t wear hoodies. You give them hope, an outlet for expression, ears and voice. Poetry offers beauty, contemplation and self reflection as tools to appease the natural apathy of urban life. Without these, where will the angst be diffused?

So fellow Hoodmen, my merry band of soldiers, this is a call to arms, this is a roadmap to peace, a proper roadmap to peace. Get your laptops switched on, sharpen your pencils, fold up newspapers to make megaphones and tattoo the below details on to your arms, and fight, as the Beastie Boys nearly said, for your right, to Poetry. 

How you can help:

Write (by letter or email) to complain about the decision to withdraw their grant.

Arts & Creative Economy team [email protected]
Director of Regeneration [email protected]

Councillor Smaje [email protected]
Chief Executive [email protected]
Kirklees MC, Civic Centre III, Market Street, Huddersfield HD1 1WG.
The Huddersfield Daily Examiner [email protected]

Poetry website
James Walker's website

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