Ruth Padel - Oxford Poetry Professor... and?
So, in what had become a bitter contest for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry, Ruth Padel was yesterday honoured with the title - the first female in its three hundred and odd year history. Quite a year then for women poets, what with Carol Ann Duffy our new Poet Laureate, also the first woman to have held the title. Derek Walcott had eventually pulled out of the race for what is described as the second most powerful poetry position after that of Laureate. Seems many could not bear the thought of Walcott being in such an esteemed position with a, it seems, long history of propositioning female students. But this is hardly new. Many other male academics are known to have done this, or do this currently, yet no hoo-haa there. It leads me to believe that there could well be something more amiss when it comes to Walcott, or that he simply fires up more animosity than most. Hopefully Padel and Duffy will proposition a few themselves. Or not. Actually, I'm writing this and thinking, why on earth do I care about Oxford's Professor of Poetry? I mean, I get the Poet Laureate thing - it's a national position - yet Oxford? Yet The Guardian's book pages have almost been running a day by day commentary in the run up to yesterday's announcement. And Padel, as though the Guardian had already been tipped off, yesterday featured in a two page interview in the Review. The Guardian seems to be so in bed with Oxford and Cambridge - but that may just have much more to do with the fact that most of its journalists and editors went there themselves.