Last night Jenny Gropp Hess posted this update on the "Unite for Poets in Need" facebook page:
We have a progress update for you! This afternoon Jenny Gropp Hess participated in a conference call with Elizabeth Burke-Dain, the Poetry Foundation’s media and marketing director, and Ydalmi Noriega, the special assistant to Robert Polito. Burke-Dain and Noriega communicated that the letter and petition [asking the Foundation to commit financial resources to help poets in need] introduced a real need for the Foundation to change and refine some of its processes, such as figuring out how to better support programs like Poets in Need and how to communicate the availability of already existing emergency funds. They also said that the Foundation has, in response to the letter and petition, been in touch with Poets in Need and is currently having productive conversations with people there.
Burke-Dain and Noriega also emphasized that Polito has taken the letter and petition seriously, and that in the future the public can expect to see more direct and regular communication from him about what the Foundation is doing for the poetry community. They’ve also invited people to reach out to them regarding other issues, and have extended an open line of communication to us regarding our cause.
We will, of course, use that line to follow up with the Foundation and report back to you about what concrete changes will be made. At this point, we are grateful that they took the time to meet and we’re delighted that they have taken a position in favor of Sandra’s proposal. This signals a positive change in how the Foundation interprets its mission. We're hopeful that this is the beginning of an ongoing conversation, the result of which will be a systematic approach to helping poets in need either through existing organizations or through the Foundation itself, or (ideally) both.
Hopefully we’ll have more to report soon. Thanks again for your support!
If you are joining this story for the first time, you can read Sandra Simonds' open letter to the Poetry Foundation and the petition on which it was based here.