please put the poem back

posted by Michele

There was a move recently at The NZ Listener to cut publication of the weekly poem which has appeared in that magazine for decades. It’s one of the few places that offer a substantial fee for a poem ($150 per acceptance) and the only NZ print publication to publish a poem 51 weeks in the year. For the past few years the Listener poem has also been archived online (here’s CK Stead’s elegy for editor Robin Dudding, written after a visit to the Michael King Centre on Mt Victoria in Devonport a few months ago).

Bookman Beattie has logged the uproar over the proposed cut here and it seems likely the Listener will reconsider its decision. Here’s my letter to the editor, dispatched yesterday. The readership figure is cited from the latest Nielsen Media Research National Readership Survey.

30 October 2008

Dear Listener editor/s

A lot of time and effort is put in by poets, publishers and readers to get poetry into public places. When poems reach the walls of galleries or cafes, the signboards of buses and trains or the surfaces of beaches and pavements, public response is positive and everyone is reminded that poems live in the world as well as on the page. So why has The Listener decided to discontinue its weekly poem, the one place in this country that prints a poem which reaches 286,000 potential readers every seven days? Cost? I wouldn’t think $150 per week (the current fee) is too high a price to pay for the preservation of an honourable tradition that tells us poetry engages hearts and minds wherever it goes. Please put the poem back.


Tim Jones said...

Have you had any response, or heard whether the Listener has now changed its decision?

paula green said...

and so the poems are back ... thanks michele