Oxford Professor of Poetry
After last year’s débâcle – when Ruth Padel revealed herself to be the poetic equivalent of Malcolm Tucker – it has been announced yesterday that the next Oxford Professor of Poetry will be Geoffrey Hill.
Last year, it was lamented that Hill had never been considered for the prize, and it therefore comes as a pleasant surprise that he allowed himself to be nominated. It must even more pleasant for the English Department, which feared that the most distinguished prize in poetry was in danger of becoming a poisoned chalice.
Walcott was a poet laureate – indeed, honoured with a song by indie darling the Vampire Weekend – and any serious poet following him would have seemed an extremely sloppy second. At the height of the Padel affair last year, it was even half-jokingly suggested by one distinguished Professor that the position should be offered to Leonard Cohen.
Luckily, Hill is probably the only other living poet equal to the challenge. His Collected Critical Writings was extremely well received, winning the Truman Capote Prize for Literary Criticism. By way of contrast, Ruth Padel – according to her wikipedia page – used to sing in an Istanbul nightclub.