Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dirty Tricks in Oxford Professor of Poetry Election

Poet Ruth Padel has won Saturday's formal ballot to become Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. The former Chair of the Poetry Society is the first female post-holder in the 300-year history of the role. She defeated Indian poet Arvind Mehrotra, who is currently professor of English at the University of Allahabad.

The Nobel prizewinner, Derek Walcott, withdrew from the race last week after an anonymous letter campaign against him. Documents containing details of a sexual harassment claim made against Walcott by a Harvard student in 1982 were sent to between 100 and 200 of the 150,000 Oxford academics and graduates who are eligible to take part in the vote. There is no suggestion that Padel or her supporters were behind the campaign.

List of recent Guardian articles on the affair here. Irish Times article here. The relevant page on the Oxford website. Guardian interview with Ruth Padel.

Ruth Padel takes over from Christopher Ricks. Christopher Ricks published a book on Bob Dylan while Professor of Poetry. Previous people to hold the position include Matthew Arnold, W H Auden and Seamus Heaney.

No comments: