by UnHerd News
Thursday, 20
January 2022
Spotted
11:41

Picador cancels poet Kate Clanchy’s books

The author and her publisher have parted ways
by UnHerd News
Kate Clanchy after being awarded an MBE in 2019. (Photo by Jonathan Brady – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Author Kate Clanchy and Pan Macmillan parted company this morning “by mutual consent”. The publisher will cease distribution of all her work, following criticism of Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me in 2021.

Clanchy has been a qualified practising teacher since the age of 22. Her writing includes three prize-winning collections of poetry, the Costa First Novel Prize-shortlisted Meeting the English, and the Orwell Prize-winning Some Kids I Taught and What They Taught Me. 

The books cancelled by Picador include England Poems from a School and How To Grow Your Own Poem. These poetry collections introduced more than 50 young poets from diverse backgrounds — migrant, refugee, neurodiverse, wheelchair users — to the reading public. Writers who emerged from this work include the prize-winning poets Amineh Abou Kerech and Mukahang Limbu. Clanchy’s teaching practice, which nurtured the England and Friends books was the subject of a documentary for BBC Radio 3.

Clanchy’s Friend: Poems by Young People, an anthology by pupils at the comprehensive school where she teaches, was slated for March. Picador will no longer be releasing it.

Some Kids became the subject of online criticism last summer for its portrayal of young people. Authors Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh, and Sunny Singh accused Clanchy of writing problematic descriptions of her students. Society of Authors president Philip Pullman received heavy criticism for tweeting in Clanchy’s defence.

Picador did not defend Clanchy at the time, but her students — the subjects of Some Kids — did. Last September, at least 20 of them wrote an open letter to The Bookseller defending her. They said their personal experiences of Clanchy were of “unequivocal care and support for us… as poets and as people”. They said they wanted to push back against suggestions that they “may be victims in some capacity.” They said Clanchy’s support gave them confidence as poets.

Another former Clanchy student, Shukira Rezaei, wrote of her in the Sunday Times: 

Kate helped me find scholarships and helped me with my university applications. I went on to study politics, philosophy and economics in London, and I am now studying for an MSc in human rights and politics. I owe all of it to Kate, and I am sure she has done the same for many of her students. I feel very privileged to have met her.
- Shukria Rezaei, Sunday Times

This was not enough for Picador. A new version of Some Kids — to be revised in consultation with sensitivity readers — had been planned for last autumn, but it never appeared.

Commenting on the storm in the Telegraph last November, Picador publisher Philip Gwyn Jones said:

If I have regrets about our conduct during the Clanchy affair, it’s that we weren’t clear enough in our support for the author and her rights, as well as our condemnation of any trolling, abuse and misinterpretations that happened online.
- Philip Gwyn Jones, Picador

He later apologised for the comments. In December Picador distanced itself from Gwyn Jones, and Clanchy.

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Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
8 months ago

I suppose that I should say something, make some comment, but it just beggars belief. I could ask “wtf is going on in publishing today?”, but we kind of know even if we can’t really understand why. I’ve read Kate Clanchey’s work and heard her read, and she (like many others) does not deserve what has happened to her. I do get fed-up with people being insulted on the behalf of others, if those kids had a problem let them speak up, apparently they were not insulted though. But mostly I’m fed up with the cringeing, cowering, cowardly publishers who are betraying their profession.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
8 months ago

Jordan Peterson has written recently in the National Post regarding, generally speaking, the cravenness of his colleagues in Universities. IMO it is a tour de force of writing in exposing the applied postmodern-marxian push within institutions – if not directly by ideologues, then certainly by, in most cases, staff and students being coerced to pay lip service for fear of unemployment.
https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jordan-peterson-why-i-am-no-longer-a-tenured-professor-at-the-university-of-toronto

Last edited 8 months ago by michael stanwick
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
8 months ago

Thanks for this Michael. The following quotation blew my mind:
“The fight for equality and against discrimination has turned into aggressive dogmatism bordering on absurdity, when the works of the great authors of the past — such as Shakespeare — are no longer taught at schools or universities, because their ideas are believed to be backward. The classics are declared backward and ignorant of the importance of gender or race. In Hollywood, memos are distributed about proper storytelling and how many characters of what color or gender should be in a movie. This is even worse than the agitprop department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.”
This from none other than President Putin….

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago

I have long admired Jordan Peterson and am glad that he has no need financially to slave away in a hostile environment.
However, the great revelation was the passage quoted from a President Putin speech. No need to invade the West Putin only needs to set up anti-woke political parties in western countries and he might well get his puppet parties voted into power on the basis of the sentiments quoted in Jordan Peterson’s article. Putin sounds more like a classic liberal-conservative than most of our elected representatives.

Last edited 8 months ago by Jeremy Bray
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Yes. Regarding Hollywood, one need look no further than the insights of The Critical Drinker YouTube channel and his video ‘What Happened to Our Villains?(a few expletives in there) and the very in- depth ‘Symbolism and Propaganda’ from the Jonathan Pageau channel.

Matt M
Matt M
8 months ago

These stories are always the same : you dig through the links to find the disgusting insult that caused the furore in the first place. All the articles are coy about printing what was actually said. It must be really bad, you think. And then you find out… She described one of her black pupils as having “chocolate-coloured skin”! What? A poet trying to describe the appearance of someone. What a monster!

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Since when is being compared to chocolate an insult? Her student’s skin sounds beautiful.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Indeed, particularly when you consider how many women spend hours and pounds seeking to make their skins more chocolaty in colour rather than “hideously white” as a former DG of the BBC described his staff without sanction.
Rediculous complaints. If she had described the skin as the colour of excrement or mud one might have understood the furore.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

“Chocolate drop” was a common racist slur.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Never heard that phrase. It sounds about as cutting as “carrot-top” that I used to get called from time to time at school. No doubt that is a banned word now for fear of offending sensitive red-heads.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

I’ver heard it uses, and never in a good way. Not a current racial slur though.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

Is ebony allowed? That gets used a lot (not that I do, but I’m not very poetic). And in reverse, is alabaster acceptable?
I guess what I’m trying to say is, when is analogy and metaphor acceptable and when is it not? Who gets to make those rules?

Matt M
Matt M
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

I would say that for a poet any analogy is acceptable as long as it makes for a good poem.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Who gets to make those rules? Sunny Singh, Chimene Suleyman, and Monisha Rajesh apparently.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

“Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony…” da da da

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

The left. Where you been?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

As if black people don’t have chocolate-coloured skin. Utterly bizarre.

Gordon Black
Gordon Black
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

During my working life I have been Jock, Thistle Arse, Haggistani, Porridge Wog, Caber To$$er; very felicitous, poetic and harmless compared to some of the things I have been called.

Last edited 8 months ago by Gordon Black
Billy Bob
Billy Bob
8 months ago
Reply to  Matt M

What kind of chocolate? My boy looks like a milky bar

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
8 months ago

If Picador and Pan MacMillan wish to constrain free speech then the answer they may understand is to avoid buying their publications, urge our friends and acquaintances to do the same, and urge writers to submit their texts elsewhere

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I agree! Boycott the bastards! They cannot be allowed to profit from their hypocritical cowardice.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I contacted Pan Macmillan a few minutes ago to tell them I wouldn’t be buying their books any more.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
8 months ago

“If I have regrets about our conduct during the Clanchy affair, it’s that we weren’t clear enough in our support for the author and her rights, as well as our condemnation of any trolling, abuse and misinterpretations that happened online.
– Philip Gwyn Jones, Picador
He later apologised for the comments. In December Picador distanced itself from Gwyn Jones, and Clanchy.”

Does this mean that Picador actually supports trolling and abuse of its authors?

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

No, he has been re-educated to believe that Picador should have been quicker to react to legitimate outrage and criticism by the oppressed minority of chocolate coloured people by banning a vile racist author who has shown herself up by acting as a white saviour to disadvantaged children and encouraging them to get their work published in an institutional ly racist country etc. etc.

Hilary Easton
Hilary Easton
8 months ago

What a horrible time to be an author! We used to congratulate ourselves on our commitment to freedom of expression, now we seem to be emulating the former East Germany.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
8 months ago

The authors Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh, and Sunny Singh owe a HUGE apology to the young writers who’ve been denied the opportunity to get their work published thanks to the authors’ narcissistic and despicable power trip.
f**k Picador publishing – I hope Ms. Clanchy finds a BETTER publisher with the courage to support free expression and without an insane “sensitivity reader”.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago

I commented on the difference between the woke and the conservative in the comment section of the article on Roger Scruton.
The woke tend to get their way in institutions because of their intolerance and fanaticism. This is the sin of the leftist. They are unable to tolerate those who fail the ideological litmus test. In contrast the conservative is accepting of other ways of thinking even if they are not their way. They are reluctant to drive out the leftist bigots. They accede to the fanatic mob with the thought that the author can publish elsewhere. They lack fanaticism. This is a virtue but leaves conservatives vulnerable.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

The conservatives commenting on Unherd are often as vitriolic as comments from the left. The trend to see one’s opinions as facts and to disparage those who differ is widespread.

Jeremy Bray
Jeremy Bray
8 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

I agree that conservative thinkers are able to let off their frustration at evidence of woke’s ideological success here in a “safe space” and may be as entrenched in their views as the woke, but they lack true fanaticism. 
When I read of publishers abjuring their previously published woke opinions as a result of the pressure from conservatives colleagues and conservative twitter mobs; when I read of leftist academics resigning from tenured positions at Universities as a result of the intolerance of their conservative colleagues and bullying anti-woke mobs harassing them I will believe in an equivalence. 
Posters here may post anti-woke diatribes but they are not out harassing and seeking to have people ejected from their jobs for mildly woke sentiments or describing conservatives in an unflattering or slightly disobliging way. They do not proudly proclaim they have no socialist friends as if it were a virtue. On the whole the holders of conservative views tend in practice to be all too tolerant and willing to bend to the fanaticism of the woke..

Last edited 8 months ago by Jeremy Bray
Liz Walsh
Liz Walsh
8 months ago
Reply to  Jeremy Bray

Good point.

David Morley
David Morley
8 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Spot on. Fanaticism, openness to argument, reasonableness are personality traits which are not exclusive to one side or the other.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Well we do have to stop tolerating the woke. This has become an existential struggle.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
8 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Oh, please. Moral equivalence is just another form of cowardice.

Al M
Al M
8 months ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

Commenters may have strongly held opinions; but in terms of vitriol, I don’t see posts ranging from calls for people to be sacked and financially ruined through to the opinion that people holding other views be assaulted or killed.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago

I’ve just written to Pan Macmillan to tell them that I won’t be buying any more books published by them.

Jerry Smith
Jerry Smith
8 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Good. Can you provide a link we can all use? I’ve also made a mental note not to buy any more Pan MacMillan books. Hopefully someone will organise a proper boycott campaign with wide publicity.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
8 months ago
Reply to  Jerry Smith

I just used the contact form on their website:-
https://www.panmacmillan.com/help-is-at-hand

William Hickey
William Hickey
8 months ago

We will all bow before Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh, and Sunny Singh. Stop protesting and arguing, white people.

We are all guilty of racism and colonialism, the Original Sins of the West.

And what is an Original Sin? One that we ourselves cannot overcome. Original Sins require Redeemers in order for the sinners to be forgiven.

Chimene Suleyman, Monisha Rajesh, and Sunny Singh will listen to our pleas and judge us as they see fit.

They collectively are the sovereign — and our moral betters.

Bow.

Last edited 8 months ago by William Hickey
David Harris
David Harris
8 months ago

Never mind whether one agrees or disagrees with these cancelled individuals, the sheer bullying mob hypocrisy of these publishers, universities, etc is what galls me. The very basest of human behaviour from those who profess the highest of motives.

Last edited 8 months ago by David Harris
David McDowell
David McDowell
8 months ago

Another quite ridiculous and dishonest article from a left leaning cultural extremist who wants temporary solidarity from those on the right.
You can tell from the list of authors in her anthology that inclusion owed more to the publisher’s policy of diversity and racialised inclusivity than literary merit. Something she was happy to play along with when it suited her.
Like Bindel, she’s been bitten by the people she’s closest to because she’s not extreme enough for them.
She’ll go back to her old friends when it’s safe to do so – when the trannies have been seen off – and go back to despising the right at the same time.

Last edited 8 months ago by David McDowell
Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
8 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I upvoted you, because I think you’re correct. In my experience those most hurt by identity politics are those who seek to profit by it. It requires so many purity tests that even its most ardent adherents are going to trip themselves up at some point.
This who live by identity politics will die by identity politics.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  Julian Farrows

It’s even worse. any are people simply seeking for opportunities to bully.

Scott Norman Rosenthal
Scott Norman Rosenthal
7 months ago
Reply to  David McDowell

How do you know all this? She had students. She published their work.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
8 months ago

How long until Shukria Rezaei is cancelled? She’s a student at a British university who has dared to speak out, so her position must now be pretty perilous.

Eliza Mann
Eliza Mann
8 months ago

My take on this is that Clanchy’s real “sin” was to be a white woman writing about non-white people. Her critics felt offended by that and thought she was somehow using her students to advance her own career. The “chocolate skin” comment was just a convenient example for them to point to; it could easily have been changed in later editions, but Clanchy’s underlying “stain” is unchangeable. This is a terrible time to be an author if you’re white and want to write about anyone who isn’t.

Jerry Jay Carroll
Jerry Jay Carroll
8 months ago

Vladimir Putin may be a lot of things, but he is no fool.

“The advocates of so-called ‘social progress’ believe they are introducing humanity to some kind of a new and better consciousness. Godspeed, hoist the flags, as we say, go right ahead. The only thing that I want to say now is that their prescriptions are not new at all. It may come as a surprise to some people, but Russia has been there already. After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks, relying on the dogmas of Marx… See more @https://nationalpost.com/opinion/jordan-peterson-why-i-am-no-longer-a-tenured-professor-at-the-university-of-toronto?fbclid=IwAR1xkzCantQbMQy4CXJM2Oo5bg-D1xNmFCLbrr-DlbdaVATe4qMQbqO4BVc
Jordan Peterson: Why I am no longer a tenured professor at the University of Toronto
http://NATIONALPOST.COM

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
8 months ago

Boo. Cancellation of poets, how degraded has our society become. Shameful!