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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ruth Padel elected first female Oxford professor of poetry

Ruth Padel has been elected the new Oxford professor of poetry after a controversial contest for the most important academic poetry position in the UK.
Padel, the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin, is the first woman to take the role since it was created in 1708.

The Nobel laureate Derek Walcott withdrew from the running last week after a dossier detailing sexual harassment claims made against him by a Harvard student in 1982 was sent anonymously to 200 Oxford academics.

A group of students and graduates, headed by the secretary of the Oxford University Poetry Society, called for the contest to be suspended after the row. Walcott, who had been the frontrunner, criticised the "low tactics" and "degrading attempt at character assassination" the election had become.

His withdrawal left Oxford graduates and staff with the choice of Padel or the Indian poet and critic Arvind Mehrotra. Padel, an Oxford alumna, scored 297 votes to Mehrotra's 129.


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