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How it all turned out.

Ruth Padel was elected the new Oxford professor of poetry on May 16. She resigned last night after being blamed for the letter campaign (called a smear campaign by the press despite Walcott apparently admitting to it at the time) which led to Derek Walcott’s earlier withdrawal from the competition.

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6 Comments

  1. Robert Kostuck wrote:

    OK, I’m confused. Did she willingly admit her complicity in the letter-writing campaign? Was it an intentional move to: keep Walcott from receiving the post/embarrass Walcott into withdrawing (unfortunate word choice, sorry)/prove that the mightier than the ? I’m confused.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 3:22 pm | Permalink
  2. Robert Kostuck wrote:

    part of that didn’t go through. Last clause, /prove that the (pen is) mightier than the (pen is)?

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 3:23 pm | Permalink
  3. The pen is mightier than the penis, you mean? Indeed, it would be difficult for me to choose. 😛 (If you used triangle quotes I think WordPress thinks you’re trying to do html.)

    My understanding is, she did write to two reporters, but she was not part of the anonymous-letter-writing campaign, where people mailed Oxford staff/faculty/students photocopies of the pages in the book about Walcott’s sexual harassment – or I guess I should say alleged sexual harassment since there’s no way to know for sure, though I find it entirely plausible given contemporary news reports say he admitted to the first incident and that he (or maybe the university, I don’t recall) provided a settlement to the second accuser. She says she thought the reporters should know that students were concerned, but who knows if that was her actual motivation for writing the reporters or not.

    I wish she had stayed out of it, as I like her poetry and was rather keen on having a woman in the post, and as one of the other poets under consideration it was a conflict of interest for her to have commented.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  4. Robert Kostuck wrote:

    Yeah, I used triangle quotes. I wanted to use the pen is/penis quote ever since I read it in Camp Concentration by Thomas Disch.

    So, I think she entered into the fray knowing that she would admit her part in the protests and then willingly (right?) resign. Well, that’s as bold a step as gaining the post and staying there. She was proving a point. She’ll probably only be remembered in this incident in the future as someone with ulterior motives but equality always comes with some sacrifice. I think.

    Interesting too that this is a big deal coming from the UK but our arguments on this side of the Atlantic (USA) seem to revolve around arts funding in relation to arts. I guess the post only paid 11,000 a year? So it was about principals and talent, not money. I mean, most of the ‘arts’ tempests are about $$. That’s my experience.

    Maybe you could post this story at PW and get more viewpoints and opinions?

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 4:52 pm | Permalink
  5. I’m not sure this is the sort of thing P&W does – there’s no “news” area. Where would you put it? Just in the Poetry forum?

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Permalink
  6. Robert Kostuck wrote:

    Grants, Awards, Prizes, Contests?

    Or maybe not.

    Tuesday, May 26, 2009 at 5:42 pm | Permalink