The Press Association reports that nominations have been opened in a second attempt to find the next Oxford University Professor of Poetry after last year’s winner resigned amidst controversy. Candidates are being urged to step forward to replace the previous holder of the prestigious role, Sir Christopher Ricks. During last year’s vote, an alleged smear campaign was held against Derek Walcott. The Nobel Laureate withdrew following the anonymous letter campaign reportedly detailing sexual harassment claims. Ruth Padel, who became the first woman to take up the professorship, then resigned and apologized for her role in the smear campaign but insisted she had done “nothing intentional.” Sir Christopher left the post prior to this academic year and the position remains vacant until the next holder is elected to take up the role in the autumn.
In a bid to make the voting system more accessible this year, voting will be held over a period of time rather than on a single day with online voting also available. Dr Seamus Perry, deputy chair of the English faculty board, said: “It is good news that the election will be so much more accessible to the large community of graduates of the university that have the chance to vote for Oxford’s professor of poetry. “We hope that they will want to elect a professor who sees poetry as a vital part of what the humanities contribute to modern society Over the last three centuries the professorship has been held by some of the most eminent poets and scholars in the English-speaking world, and we look forward to an appointment that will continue this unique and illustrious line.”