Poetry Book Society charity relinquishes quarterly selections and TS Eliot prize roles

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The Poetry Book Society (PBS) is winding down after more than 50 years, with all three staff made redundant, the Bookseller has reported. The PBS was founded in 1953 and has worked as a book club for poetry readers, offering selections of new poetry collections each quarter.

Inpress, a not-for-profit organisation that provides marketing and distribution services for independent publishers, will be taking over the book club portion of the society and will continue to provide PBS members with the quarterly selectors’ choice book of poetry and bulletin. Management of the TS Eliot prize, which was also handled by PBS, has been assumed by the TS Eliot Foundation.

The society’s funding was cut by Arts Council England in 2011, despite a petition by poetry publishers saying the end of the PBS would lead to a "considerable loss of sales". Chris Holifield, director of the PBS, said: "It's obviously very difficult to run an arts organisation with no state funding. It was fantastic to have so much support from so many people - but in the end the decision had been made and it wasn't changed."

Noel Murphy, chair of the Poetry Book Society, said: “As a very small charity, it has become increasingly hard for the PBS to maintain all of its activities, the book club, the TS Eliot Prize and its poetry tours. After exploring all alternatives the trustees have concluded that it would be in the best interests of all of our stakeholders and the poetry world in general if we transferred our most important activities to organisations better resourced than ourselves to support them over the long term.”

Ian Grant, chairman of Inpress, said: “The Poetry Book Society, now owned by Inpress, is very much alive and will be powering up rather than winding down its activities. The corporate charitable entity formerly known as the Poetry Book Society, on the other hand, has gone into liquidation. 

"The former directors wished to preserve the continuity of the service to its members, the poets and publishers whom it has supported since 1953 so before the company closed they worked very hard with the directors of Inpress to find a new home for the name - the Poetry Book Society - the goodwill, the format and most importantly the continuing interests of the membership.”


Background: Poetry's funding problems - 'precarious financial position' for the Poetry Trust 




◄ The Green Dress Whose Girl is Sleeping: Russell Jones, Freight Books

Selected Poems: Talking Zebras open-mic poetry group, Cleckheaton ►


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