Letter: Justice for poets at Arts Council

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Sir: I am not sure what provoked Adrian Mitchell's outburst about the Arts Council's attitude to poetry, but he chose a peculiar moment for it: the presentation of the annual T S Eliot Prize. This award is administered by the Poetry Book Society, which is funded by the Arts Council.

Last year the Arts Council published a national survey on attitudes to poetry, which this year will inform a new policy document in which the needs of individual poets are highlighted. We estimate that 89.5 per cent of our current expenditure on literature is poetry-related. This includes support for the Poetry Society, National Poetry Day, individual writers, poetry tours, poetry magazines and poetry publishers.

The Arts Council has a good track record of support for poetry, though we acknowledge that poets of quality could of course do with more support.

Dr ALASTAIR NIVEN

Director of Literature

The Arts Council of England

London SW1

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