Oxford Professor of Poetry Race Gets Unpoetically Ugly

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The rarefied world of poetry may not seem a place of sturm und drang but indeed nothing can get more sturm und drang-y than a skirmish between poets and their supporters. With the date for the election of the new Oxford Professor of Poetry approaching, and with St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott ahead in the early running, the claws have come out in the form of lurid runs through the tales of Walcott’s alleged sexual harassment of former students while at Boston University and Harvard. The rumors have been circulating sub rosa through discussions of Walcott’s chances of obtaining the prestigious professorship. (Some of our readers have echoed them in their comments, as you can see if you look back at our earlier posts on the professorship.) Now the allegations have surfaced in print in the pages of London’s Independent newspaper, whose columnist John Walsh, an avowed friend and supporter of Walcott’s competitor Ruth Padel, gives us a detailed run through what he calls “the shadows of sexual harassment allegations that have swirled around their man over the years.” Whether the allegations (about whose truth or resolutions we indeed know little) make him unfit for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry will be for others to decide, as neither I nor most of you will be entitled to vote. In the meantime, you can get the decidedly unpoetic details at http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/columnists/john-walsh/john-walsh-she-told-him-to-get-lost-he-asked-her-to-imagine-them-making-love-1675108.html

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