Neil Astley : The StAnza lecture, 2005 [UK]
Most poetry in Britain today is published for poets and academics, not for readers. Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley believes he has found a huge new audience for contemporary poetry at the same time as the poetry establishment has become narrow-minded, male-dominated and Anglocentric. Poetry publishing and reviewing is policed by a clique of academics who rail against 'populism', 'democratisation', 'marketing' and 'dumbing down' but (ab)use these terms to censor poetry they dislike - including much poetry by women and ethnic minority writers - in support of a damaging academic agenda. Astley argues that their attacks on anyone who addresses a broader readership or promotes emerging talents may threaten the survival of poetry. Incestuously fawning to their poet and academic peers instead of serving readers, the poetry police have become so out of touch with the grassroots readership that they should go.
The following is the text of the 2005 StAnza Lecture, given by Neil Astley at StAnza, Scotland's Poetry Festival, at Parliament Hall, St Andrews, on 18 March 2005. [...]
And the Guardian prints the responses
of Sheenagh Pugh,Andrew Motion, Moniza Alvi, Anne Stevenson, Henry Shukman, Paul Farley, Sean O'Brien, Don Paterson, John Burnside, George Szirtes, and Kate Rhodes.