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Monday, May 25, 2009

Is There Hope for Arvind Krishna Mehrotra Now That Ruth Padel Has Resigned

Ruth Padel became the first Profesor of Poetry at Oxford nine days ago. Her reign is over. Guardian says: "Ruth Padel, the first woman elected Oxford's professor of poetry, has resigned following claims she tipped off ­journalists about allegations that her chief rival for the post, Derek Walcott, had sexually ­harassed students."

Commenting on Ruth Padel's resignation Novelist Jeanette Winterson said: "It's a pity she has been backed into a corner. What she has done is so much more ­trivial than her contribution to poetry. This feels malicious and nasty. We ought to be able to look beyond the woman to the poetry. This is a way of reducing women; it wouldn't have happened to a man. But then Oxford is a sexist little dump."

The irony, and bitterness in her statement is obvious. The leading candidate for the Professorship was the Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. He was forced to withdraw his nomination after what appeared a smear campaign against him. About 100 Oxford academics were sent xerox copies of a book detailing sexual harassment made by a student at Harvard against Derek in 1982.

"I withdraw from the election to be professor of poetry at Oxford. I am disappointed that such low tactics have been used in this election and I do not want to get into a race for a post where it causes embarrassment to those who have chosen to support me for the role or to myself," he told the Evening Standard. "I already have a great many work commitments and while I was happy to be put forward for the post, if it has degenerated into a low and degrading attempt at character assassination, I do not want to be part of it." Derek Walcott

It is not known if Arvind Krishna Mehrotra is still interested in the job.

I am not sure if she held the tenure for the shortest time. But she certainly was the first women poet. And she can claim another first also. She is the first Professor of poetry at Oxford to resign.


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