Thursday, 31 March 2011
A few days ago I was on the-island-in-the-middle-of-nowhere celebrating the news that a colleague there, a young Norwegian translator, had just got a grant that would enable her to live for a year translating from the Russian, and among the company was a Finnish short-story writer whose income derives less from the stories than from a state scholarship . . . I came home yesterday, the day of the long knives, when the Poetry Book Society and the Poetry Trust and Arc and others were cast adrift by the Arts Council. Is this the real world, or was my island – and its walled town with one main square, one main food shop, a fire station the size of a small garage – the real world? Neither is more real than the other, but this one is certainly more complicated, competitive, messy, mean. Over the past three years I’ve made two failed applications to ACE for grants for CBe, both times for sums under £5K, dutifully making up answers to those questions on the form that are there simply for the sake of form-filling; yesterday I read (where? I’ve lost the link) that ACE spends £27 million on rent for its own buildings and other unlikely sums before it even gets round to distribution; and I suspect that if ACE applied to itself for money to stay alive it too would be turned down. An appropriate response is to hold a party. I’m thinking of having one, a fundraising one, in the summer.