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Ode to whiteness: British poetry scene fails diversity test

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Study shows poets of colour are underrepresented in the UK, as Forward poetry prizes announce trailblazing shortlists

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 studyPDF, 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).

There has to be the right kind of critical attention – critics knowledgeable about race, culture, identity and belonging

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