Derek Walcott has today withdrawn his candidacy for the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry citing a smear campaign designed to sully his reputation. In a statement announcing his withdrawal Walcott cited the “low tactics”, and the “low and degrading attempt at character assassination” the race had become.
“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.”
As to the allegations brought forth in the smear campaign he said: “What happened 20 years ago I have never commented upon and have never given my side of what happened. That will continue to be the case.”
For more on Walcott’s withdrawal and reaction from other candidates go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/may/12/walcott-oxford-poetry-professor