Derek Walcott “smear” inspires new poem


The Derek Walcott/Ruth Padel debacle has at least served as inspiration for a new poem. Oxford Poetry, the review founded in 1910-13 by Basil Blackwell and, despite intermissions, published mostly continuously since then, has just published a poem, “Smear,” a work by an anonymous poet—reportedly of “very high profile” and even possibly a candidate for the controversial Oxford Professor of Poetry post him or herself.

The poem is dedicated “to the anonymous circulator of the packages that caused Derek Walcott to withdraw from the election” and opens thus:

You’d do me in
a breath so I’ll save you time. There’s enough of me
that’s rich and soft. And you can spread me far:
however far I am the same stuff here
as I was there.

Like you I go
unsigned. We are known only by this muster
of memory and scripture in a space
we chose, where nothing lay until its silence
niggled us

to work. Like you
I diligently seal and send out
everywhere my news to everyone
who matters, all who count or keep account.

The complete poem can be found at the Oxford Poetry website at

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