Hayden's Ferry Review


The "Saga of Skullduggery" Continues

Ruth Padel stepped down from her recent appointment as Oxford University's chair in poetry yesterday, after admitting she was behind the anonymous allegations of sexual impropriety against Derek Walcott, her main competitor for the post. The admission that she sent e-mail messages to reporters is, according to the New York Times, "a stunning turn in a saga of skullduggery that had opened a bitter schism in Britain’s literary world." Read the full article here.

In this article for The Telegraph, Michael Deacon laments this defeat of poetry by "gossip," citing the impropriety of a number of famous poets: Dylan Thomas' alcholism, T.S. Eliot's possible racism, Philip Larkin's love of pornography, Poe's 13-year-old wife, etc. etc. He goes on to say, "All of these men, our anonymous epistolary guardians might grudgingly concede, knew a thing or two about putting words together, chopping them into lines and all that carry-on. But not one of them, were they alive today, could hope to land the Oxford post; they just don’t meet the exacting moral standards set by people who conduct smear campaigns."

Yikes. A writer's art should speak for itself, of course. But shouldn't a teacher be held accountable for his behavior toward students?
Beth StaplesNews, Poetry