Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content


Entry archive:

Ruth Padel's ruinous route to notoriety Add to ...

UPDATE: Padel resigns!

It gives no one pleasure to break the truth surrounding the Oxford Poetry Professorship scandal, least of all yours truly; but, in the name of poetry, one -- this one -- must ask: What could possibly drive a poet to participate in such desperate measures that one would leak information to UK journalists; and, more to the point, how could such a so-called "poet" live with herself knowing the work had not earned its way to the top in such a situation of PKBeity? That poet? Ruth Padel who, as Richard Woods notes in his online article outlining this sorry state of affairs (in The Times), was "a classicist who taught Greek at Oxford before turning to poetry."

Perhaps it's time for Padel to resign and turn away from poetry for the duration? Her lies, dishonourable actions and behind-the-scenes machinations beggar comprehension. As Richards Woods further reports: "The new Oxford professor of poetry is facing high-profile demands for her resignation after it emerged that she alerted journalists to sexual allegations against her main rival during her campaign for the post.

"Ruth Padel had previously denied mentioning the claims of sexual harassment against Derek Walcott, the St Lucia-born Nobel laureate. She said she had 'nothing to do with any behind-doors operation.'

"It has now emerged, however, that Padel sent emails to at least two newspapers, drawing attention to Walcott's past. He was her strongest challenger for the 300-year-old post. Days later, the harassment allegations appeared in the press and Walcott withdrew."

For her part, the so-called poet and author of Alibi who told the world, on May 12th, "neither they [her campaign managers]nor I mentioned Walcott's harassment record and had nothing to do with any behind-doors operation" had, in fact, but a few days before the damning article inked by her "ex-partner" John Walsh [a.k.a.The Soho Leopard]in The Independent that set off the firestorm culminating in Derek Walcott's withdrawal from the race, run to the UK press (!) by emailing those sympathetic to "her cause" with the following condemnation: "What he [Walcott]actually does can be found in a book called The Lecherous Professor, reporting one of his two recorded cases of sexual harassment."

Never mind. This was then. Now? Padel, the individual solely responsible for the egregious fiasco that lead to Walcott's forced-by-her withdrawal, wants everyone to play nicey-nice: "I knew nothing of any anonymous mailings and would not have wished John Walsh's article to be published. I was contacted by an Oxford student, who believed Mr. Walcott's relations with female students at universities was relevant to her university's election of a professor. . . . Because her concern seemed to be a part of the whole picture, I communicated it to two journalists. I would not have done so had I known of the anonymous mailing, or of any journalist intending to highlight this issue on its own . . . It would be so much less wounding to everyone concerned, it needs to rest . . . if you can find it in your heart."

Heart? Huh? What's good for the cooked goose . . . Why did Padel so heartlessly send the email to any journalist in Fleet Street if she did not want any journalist (let alone one with whom she allegedly cavorted in carnal delight while glazing some kind of cooking fowl on her kitchen table) "to highlight this issue?"

(For the record, Walcott would not be teaching students; he would have NO CONTACT with students, no one-on-ones nor one-to-class relationships with any students. How could this FACT so trouble one single solitary unidentified Oxford student that it forced Padel to contact journalists with her fear for this Oxford student? On what grounds? Would Derek Walcott wink at this concerned student during one of the three lectures he delivers yearly? Would this cause a nervous breakdown and permanent damage to the student who expressed her CONCERN? Maybe the student ought to have decided to stay away from the lectures? Maybe Padel ought to have advised her to do so?)

Fortunately, poet and former Oxford Professor of Poetry James Fenton also elected to highlight the facts swirling around this issue in his heartbreaking analysis of it, "The Hounding of a Nobel Poet Has Shamed Oxford":

"Who, in their right minds, would have preferred Padel's poetry to Walcott's? Who but the most bigoted would think that professional issues settled a quarter of a century ago should debar a poet from standing up at a lectern three times a year to give a public lecture on poetry? Who thinks Oxford's reputation has been enhanced by this unscrupulousness?"

Who, indeedly :(. Now, with the truth on one ruthless Padel (who never did identify the single "concerned student" she took it upon herself to protect from the octogenarian) on the table, it's all too clear who heartlessly lead that attack-pack (and who, IMO, deserves the sack). If Oxford cannot re-start the race (since there remains enough time to do so), it ought to simply bestow the professorship upon Walcott by acclamation.

p.s. This, "Padel's Allies Call for Her to Resign," and this, "Clive James Eyes Oxford Poetry Top Job," just in . . .

p.p.s. The trumour concerning President Obama's "rejection" of St. Lucian Derek Walcott as his Inaugural poet doesn't float -- surely, any thinking person would know that plum slot would have to go to an American; in truth, President Obama carries Derek Walcott's Collected Poems with him and has, in fact, been photographed with the work in hand!

Report Typo/Error

Next story




Most popular videos »

More from The Globe and Mail

Most popular