Anne Stevenson in the Running for Oxford Post

You’ll recall, no doubt, the controversy over Ruth Padel’s appointment to, and resignation from, the Oxford Professor of Poetry post last year. Nominations have now opened once again for the post, and one of our headline readers at this year’s festival, Anne Stevenson, is among the names being suggested. The Guardian reports, though, that Stevenson considers the process by which a candidate must campaign for the post as one which might “cheapen” it; behaving “like a politician”, evidently, is not something she likes to do. Still, neither is Stevenson saying no to the idea:

… having practised the craft of poetry for more than half a century, I would be pleased to be asked, and I would certainly accept the post, grateful for an opportunity to illustrate and affirm the literary values to which I have given my creative life. I don’t, though, cheer myself with great expectations.

Other names in the ring include Geoffrey Hill, Douglas Dunn, Jorie Graham and even current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, whom you might have caught at last year’s dlr Poetry Now. The position, which is 300 years old, is filled via an election in which Oxford graduates may vote; candidates must be nominated by at least 12 Oxford graduates by May 5. The professorship comes with a stipend of £7,000 and has previously been held by poets including Matthew Arnold, WH Auden, Robert Graves, Paul Muldoon and Seamus Heaney. Before Ruth Padel, the post was last held by the critic Christopher Ricks, who stepped down in 2009. (Incidentally, both Ruth Padel and Christopher Ricks were keynote speakers at dlr Poetry Now in recent years, and of course Paul Muldoon will be our keynote speaker in 2010).

If more than one candidate is nominated for the post this year, the result of the election will be announced in June, in time for the next academic term.

You can hear Anne Stevenson read with Paul Muldoon and the Mexican poet Homero Aridjis at dlr Poetry Now  2010 on Saturday, March 28th at 8.30pm.

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