I first joined the Board of Trustees of StAnza: Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, in December 2005, exactly a week after I stepped down from a four-year term chairing the Scottish Poetry Library‘s Board. A year later I found myself elected to chair StAnza’s Board, and I served a three-year term, stepping down in 2009. My background in senior management at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh had given me lots of relevant experience, and an interest in good governance. At StAnza I was keen to introduce a suite of policies – Health & Safety, Data Protection, succession planning, equality and accessibility – to help the Board and the Director. By StAnza 2009 I was keen to hand my duties on to a successor, and I was very happy when Angela Wrapson took over. She fulfilled her duties very ably until last year, when she decided, for personal reasons, that she could not continue. I bumped into the Acting Chair, Drew Clegg, last year, and we discussed the situation, and I agreed to come back on the Board. I rejoined last November, and today the Board asked me to chair it for a further period.
I like this kind of work, I’ve been doing it for a very long time, and I know what’s what. But I’m always mindful of Gary Snyder’s wise words: “You don’t want to be victimised by your lesser talents. One of my lesser talents is that I’m a good administrator, so I really have to resist being drawn into straightening things out.” I know exactly what he meant, but I’ve been unable to resist being drawn in, and I also feel I’m not bad at multi-tasking, so I’m doing it. I’m still writing a lot, and currently editing the manuscript of my new book. I don’t feel my creative side is being damaged by the time I spend doing administrative work.
Also, I’m now involved in a more local project – CoastWord: Dunbar’s Festival of Words. That will take place in June, so the effort will be concentrated within a relatively short timespan.