Musing, just musing. You can make what you want of it.
As a child I had a crystal set, it was broken, and never worked. All the same I had been told how it would have worked had it not been damaged, and was fascinated by it. For younger people, who may not have heard of crystal sets, it was a simple receiver popular in the early days of radio. The thing that intrigued me about it was that it needed no batteries or mains connection, the only power necessary was received from radio waves via a long wire antenna. The radios requirement for us to use our imaginations still appeals to me more than television does.
I loved the idea that this form of radio was so economical, it appeared to work off next to nothing as far as the user was concerned. You are probably wondering where poetry fits into this. Well, one of the things that first appealed to me about poetry was that it too was an economical means of self-expression. Unlike say painting, you did not need expensive paints, canvas, and other hardware in order to be able practise this art. In its minimal form it was only necessary to have a brain, imagination, and some feeling for words. Pencil and paper were the only physical requirements if you wanted to record the poem. If you had a good memory (I haven't) it didn't even need these accoutrements.
This economical aspect of poetry appealed to me because we were a working class family and not well-off, so pastimes that didn't need expensive paraphernalia were a good idea. Later still I gained a perception that poetry (as with other arts) was in some way not quite respectable. It's participants often had a reputation for looking at things differently, sometimes very differently. They upset apple-carts, spoke up for unpopular notions, poked fun at things. Sometimes these pursuits were indulged in rather gleefully, and, being young, that appealed to me enormously.
Later still I came to understand that these aspects of the arts were not essential to the production of good art, but what remained with me, and still does, is the notion that poetry was an art that could operate with the bare minimum of physical resources, and be a spur to new ways of thinking. Most poetry magazines say they want to provide a platform for new as well as established poets, and from my experience I think they mostly do a good job of this, while at the same time maintaining high standards. How the magazines manage to stay afloat during dire economic times is a miracle as far as I can tell. In fact, how they manage to do it at all is a wonder, but they do, and I and a good many poets who have been published in their pages, notwithstanding the inevitable rejections, are I hope truly grateful.
I am edging towards my vague thoughts on the Poetry Society. First, let me say that I think poetry needs all the advocacy it can get, so I am in no particular mood to suggest disbandment, and a look at their website suggests it's thriving and an active advocate. But the part of me that came to poetry partly because I thought it could operate with the minimum of financial or material underpinning, and was a haven for the expression of controversial or unpopular ideas, and fresh way of seeing―in fact, anti-establishment―worries that a poetry society can easily become the establishment. This was not helped by the little controversy that hit the headlines a while back, and was probably misreported, but I for one never quite managed to make proper sense of.
Membership is certainly not inexpensive, and purchasing its magazine is not an investment many people will be able to consider without serious thought. I look into the pages of Poetry Review from time to time in my local bookshop, and saw once that it too says it aims to publish well known poets alongside lesser known ones, but seriously wonder whether it does this as well as many of the small magazines do, there are not lots of names that you don't yet recognise. I don't want to be unfair to people who are undoubtedly working hard for the good of the cause, but still have this creeping feeling that in this corporate age poetry should be decidedly un-corporate. Even a bit ramshackle. That having a poetry society at all might be a mistake. Or at least something less swish, and more affordable, and whose magazine has less of an air of the establishment about it. Just a thought.