Nobel laureate, poet and political activist Wole Soyinka seems favoured to become the next Oxford professor of poetry, a 300-year-old elected post which is seen as the top academic poetry role in the United Kingdom.
Candidates need to be nominated by at least 50 Oxford graduates. Soyinka, who writes drama, novels and poetry, and who was imprisoned in solitary confinement in Nigeria during the 1967-1970 civil war, his poems smuggled out on toilet paper, received more than 90 nominations, including votes from writers Melvyn Bragg and Robert Macfarlane. Other contestants got 54 nominations or below thus pushing Soyinka much further up than his closest rival.
Four more candidates are also in the running; self-schooled bestselling poet Simon Armitage, the only female poet in the race Alicia Stallings, novelist and critic Ian Gregson, who is currently professor of creative writing at Bangor University, and the poet, publisher and psychotherapist Seán Haldane.
First held by Joseph Trapp in 1708, the professorship, second only in prestige to that of poet laureate, has been filled in the past by Matthew Arnold, Cecil Day-Lewis, WH Auden, Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon. The 2009 election saw the acclaimed poet Ruth Padel, the first woman to be elected, resign less than two weeks after securing the post. Her departure came after the revelation that she had alerted journalists to allegations of sexual harassment which had been made against her rival for the position, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.
The eminent poet Geoffrey Hill was elected the following year ahead of nine other candidates. Hill, winner of a host of poetry awards, will complete his five-year tenure this summer, with Oxford graduates due to vote on their choice of his successor next month.
Soyinka won the Nobel in 1986 for his “wide cultural perspective [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][which] with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”.
Source: TheGuardian.com (UK)[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]