From The Guardian:
The British poetry world is “failing to meet even the most basic measurements of inclusivity”, according to a new report which highlights the “systemic exclusion” of poets and critics of colour from UK and Irish poetry magazines.
Collecting data from 29 magazines and websites including PN Review, Poetry Review, the Guardian and Oxford Poetry, the study found that between 2012 and 2018, 9% of almost 20,000 published poems were by poets of colour. Of the 1,819 poems, 502 were published in a single magazine, Modern Poetry in Translation; if this is taken out of the equation, only 7% of poems were by poets of colour. The study, conducted by poetry reviewer and blogger Dave Coates for Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics, points out that in contrast, at the 2011 census, 12.9% of the UK population identified as black and minority ethnic (BME).
When the study analysed the race of poetry critics, it found an even starker divide: of almost 3,000 articles written over the period, just 5% were by critics of colour. While around 46% of poems and articles published were by female or non-binary poets and critics, the study found that male critics were twice as likely to review other men than women – a figure that rose to three times as likely at the Guardian, four times at PN Review, and five times at Modern Poetry in Translation.
. . . .
Parmar said the report had already had an impact, with newspapers including the Guardian and the TLS committing to commissioning more critics of colour. She pointed to the effect of a 2005 report which found that less than 1% of poets published by a major press in the UK were black or Asian; following the launch of diversity mentoring scheme The Complete Works, that figure now stands at almost 10%.
Link to the rest at The Guardian
Perhaps PG is from the wrong generation, but he instinctively finds race-based decision-making to be repellant.
Particularly during an era in which the access to readers has been thrown wide open via ebooks and self-publishing (plus anybody can put up a website regardless of any identity consideration other than whether their name is on a credit card), considering what lineage an author claims or what sexual orientation the author espouses instead of what words the author has placed on an electronic or paper page hearkens back to the “one drop of negro blood” and apartheid-era rules for PG.
Explicit or defacto quotas based on race, gender or any other characteristic other than whether an author writes in a manner which is pleasing to this or that audience will invariably devolve into rent-seeking for an increasing number of self-defined groups that, in one way or another, have managed to persuade parts of the general public that, historically, others like them have suffered from discrimination.
PG suggests once you start down a road of reparations for an historic wrong, you raise a perpetual question of how large such reparations are, how long they must be paid and to whom they should be paid.
Must every manuscript or book include a description of groups subject to historic wrongs to which the author belongs? Or do we make an automatic assumption that if the author doesn’t affirmatively claim membership in one or more of such groups, the author is a member of a currently disfavored group?