When Poets Attack

I didn’t write about this earlier, because it seemed like a tempest in a teapot, but the story won’t die, and recently it took a very soap operatic turn.

Oxford University has a “chair” in poetry. The job doesn’t pay anything much, and you don’t have to teach–just give three lectures a year, but it’s very prestigious and is considered the best thing that can happen to a poet. The current incumbent is stepping down this fall, and the list of candidates was down to three–Derek Walcott, Ruth Padel, and Arvind Krishna Mehrotra. Then, an anonymous email campaign reminded the world of past allegations of sexual harassment against Walcott, who eventually withdrew his name from consideration for the job. Padel was selected.

Then it got juicier. Late last week, reporters in the UK uncovered the fact that Padel was behind at least two of the emails. She has now resigned.

The full story is here. Stay tuned.–David E