Poetry and politics

June 4, 2009

One of the saddest aspects of the messy business over the failure to appoint a professor of poetry at the University of Oxford is that a woman and a black man have "cancelled each other out". This potentially gives the (largely) white male Establishment a troubling pretext for ignoring wider questions of sexual and racial inequality and harassment in Oxbridge; and for failing to give attention to the politics of appointment generally. As for this particular chair, I recommend the performance poet Valerie Bloom (black woman). Whether or not she would accept it, particularly in a context of "degrading debates and character assassination" (Derek Walcott), is another matter.

Julia Swindells, Cambridge.

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