About Writers Forum
Writers Forum was founded in a somewhat different form in the 1950s by Bob Cobbing and others.
It became an independent organisation and began publishing in 1963. It still meets every few weeks throughout the year and still publishes.
In 2002, Bob Cobbing handed on Writers Forum to Lawrence Upton and Adrian Clarke who ran it together until July 2010, when Adrian Clarke left. Since then, Lawrence Upton has run it on his own with the support of others.
There is no membership of Writers Forum. You attend or you do not. You buy publications or you do not.
It has always been that way, throughout its history; but it was formalised about ten years ago by the then co-organisers.
This hardly matters to most people most of the time; but, because of the celebrity of some of the people who have learned some of their craft at Writers Forum or who have been published by it, there can be perceived kudos from being able to say that you are associated with us.
Writers Forum is participative. We listen to each other. We consider advice. Sometimes those of us who run Writers Forum act on advice. There is no democratic mechanism for proposing policy because it is not that kind of organisation.
The workshop is the centre of our activity. We maintain, more or less, the approach that was followed in Bob Cobbing’s day, not because it was what he did but because it works well.
Our costs are low, deliberately kept low, and are often casually absorbed by those running Writers Forum.
Publishing, the major expense, is subject firstly and primarily to editorial control (which now belongs to Lawrence Upton as the person directing Writers Forum, unless it is delegated. He consults over his decisions; but without razzamatazz). Secondly, it is subject to financial control. We receive no regular funding from official bodies. I believe the last public funding was for our 750th publication, in 1998. Our 1000th publication was not considered worth funding. We do not publish anything unless we can afford to do so.
We do accept and receive private donations; and our donors were particularly generous in 2010, enabling us to publish a number of perfect bound publications. It is hoped that we shall receive equally generous support this year. Some donations have no strings; others are tied to particular projects. One publication has already been funded this year; and that will appear in a few months.
Currently, we are seeking financial support for printing ABC in Sound and Third ABC in Sound, both by Bob Cobbing, the first nearly out of print and the other out of print for ten years; but we are open to any sensible proposition. If someone wants to support printing something we want to appear, we’ll talk.
We also receive help in kind. (This can be anything from use of facilities to stationery or professional advice.) Individuals not infrequently offer their labour. Such offers can be mixed blessings unless they have the necessary skills and knowledge. I have written elsewhere of one occasion in 2010 when we allowed someone to organise a guest poets’ performance; and he showed himself to be ignorant of our understanding of poetry. We also have to be careful, when we are offered labour, that those offering are going to be available to us with any regularity. Honestly, money and goods are more use.
Writers Forum also cooperates with other organisations to achieve particular aims e.g. recently with Space Studios and with Sound Practice Research Unit at Goldsmiths, University of London. Sometimes we co-publish with other presses. In the past, we have co-published with Veer at Birkbeck College; but it seems unlikely that will happen again. We have ad hoc arrangements with No Press in Canada to bring out limited editions of selected texts due to be published by us.
You are welcome to put propositions to us; but we are mostly interested in your abilities as an artist..
Those seeking programmes of action are referred to the Italian Futurists of one hundred years ago. Those wishing to promote their reputations are referred to publicists and media consultants. Please don’t ask us.
If you are interested in poetry and in learning to improve their poetry by example, then we shall be pleased to see you.