This column investigates the issues of freedom of speech and worker’s rights within a publicly funded national organisation.
High profile Scottish writers have repeatedly spoken out against the Scottish Poetry Library’s mismanagement, resulting in many cutting ties publicly. 13 female members of staff have left the organisation, several citing bullying. Latterly, library management has also been alienating LGBT poets, rather than advocating for their rights, by taking a partisan stance on “no platforming” in the wake of contentious debates about gender recognition act reform. The statement was criticised by Scottish PEN and CILIP, the library and information association, citing their responsibility to actively defend human rights, equality, and diversity.
This column paints a picture of what has gone on in the library to alienate so many writers, and is strongly critical of how a national organisation, that ostensibly exists to promote poetic expression and freedom of speech, is instead fostering an atmosphere of bullying and marginalisation. It is difficult to criticise the close-knit environment that is Scottish literature; in doing so, the columnist, who is also a writer working within the literary sector, has taken on personal reputational risk.
The column reached a wide audience in Scottish arts and culture, was widely discussed on social media, and recently, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regular has confirmed they are investigating that matter.