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May 25, 2009


At the risk of sounding horribly ignorant, people launch campaigns to be elected professors of poetry? And it's fierce enough that people might get accused of running a smear campaign?


The whole situation is just sad and dispiriting.

Padel has admitted to sending anonymous emails to journalists about sexual harassment claims regarding Walcott from the 1980's - I don't know what's worse, the fact that one of the greatest poets of our time may be a lecherous pig, or that another highly respected poet felt the need to stoop to such a sad level to win votes (and stooping it indeed was - no one sends things anonymously unless they don't want their name associated with the act).

To be honest, this tumultuous Oxford election has educated me about this particular role and it's history; I didn't know either, Ben, that this was such a *deal.*

Here's what I learned: this particular position, Oxford Professor of Poetry, was created in 1708 and is considered the second most prestigious poetry role in Britain (just behind poet laureate). It's a five-year term. The University holds an election; it sounds like since they have to do it again, they won't have a new person in the post by October, when the incumbent, Christopher Ricks, steps down.

The Guardian has a great spread about the professorship of poetry:


I agree with Ryan: the whole thing is pretty dispiriting. On one hand: I love seeing poetry matter so much. On the other hand: if it matters so much, why must we stoop to such drama?!

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