Monday, April 5, 2010

un-poetry vs. ur-poetry

"A sad and angry consolation" may be needed for the very notion of electing an Oxford Professor of Poetry. After last year's election of Ruth Padel and her retraction, one could have hoped for a more normal election process. But that is apparently not to be. Facing a living ur-poet of the English language is an un-poet.
The person who will occupy the position must first redeem it. A certain amount of dignity should be required to follow in the shoes of John Keble, Matthew Arnold, W.H. Auden, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, Roy Fuller, John Wain, Peter Levi, Seamus Heaney, James Fenton, Paul Muldoon, and Christopher Ricks.
Although applause would be in order if a talented woman were to hold the position, Paula Claire does little to promote a public perception of female accomplishment.
Geoffrey Hill, on the other hand, is the ideal candidate. Unless Oxford graduates are completely daft, I don't see how they could vote for anyone else.

"Life in Poetry: An Evening with Geoffrey Hill" WBUR (May 14, 2006).
"Musical Comedy," Geoffrey Hill Zinger (April 2, 2010).
Paula Claire, "Astound" (
"A Brief Guide to Concrete Poetry," Academy of American Poets (