Martin Doyle of the Irish Times responds to the MEAS report on Gender, Race and Publishers Irish Times Poetry Reviews 2013-2018.
A miracle, not a crime: gender balance, race and poetry in The Irish Times
“After spending a long time looking at the figures,” wrote Anne Enright in her much-discussed LRB essay from 2017 on the under-representation of women writers in both publishing and reviewing, “anything over 40 per cent feels like a miracle and anything under 30 per cent a crime.”
The fact then that last year 60 per cent of the poets reviewed in The Irish Times were female should be cause for celebration, if not canonisation, particularly given that a 2018 report found that women made up only 37 per cent of poets published in Ireland in the years 2008-2017.
The over-representation of published women poets reviewed in The Irish Times in 2019 was not a one-off. Aggregating the figures for the years 2016 to 2019, 49 per cent of poets reviewed were female, one-third more than might have been expected, given the number of women poets published in those years, a remarkable and recognisable editorial intervention in the market, one would have thought.
This is not to say that our record has always been impeccable. In 2015, only 13 out of 33 poets reviewed were female; in 2014, eight out of 33; and in 2013, five out of 23. What the underwhelming figures for these three years do show, however, is that the overall trend over the past decade was a positive one, arcing towards fairness and parity. (read more here ...)
On foot of the Irish Times response to the above linked MEAS report at URL http://www.rascal.ac.uk/institutions/fired-irish-women-poets-and-canon/miracle-not-crime-gender-balance-race-and-poetry Meas has responded by publishing an Addenda [PDF] on 06/02/2020 at URL http://www.measorg.com/images/irishtimesresponse.pdf