Hawking Up Hairballs

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pity The Poets

How low we have fallen. The spirit of the age has even infected the world of poetry. This month, one Ruth Padel became the first woman ever elected to the Oxford University chair of poetry. This is a big deal. The chair has been in existence for 301 years, and is second in prestige only to the poet laureate position.

As it turns out, Padel has resigned the chair after just ten days. Her chief competitor had been Derek Walcott and, as it turned out, she had sent emails to a couple of reporters as part of a covert campaign to smear Walcott. She apparently reminded them of Walcott's age, 79, and of his alleged poor health. She also reminded them of the charge of sexual harassment that had been brought against him in the mid-'90's, a charge that was settled out of court. Padel's defense was the the information was all in the public domain, so it couldn't be said that she was really talking out of school. However, her former supporters weren't buying that, and many of them insisted that she resign.

This is yet further evidence, if it is needed, that poetry is now so beside the point that poets are scrambling for crumbs at the academic table. If it were still a truly vital art form, poets wouldn't be resorting to this sort of chicanery and they wouldn't be seeking refuge in academia. They'd be making their livings from the sales of their books and the proceeds from their readings, but poetry as an art form has been in decline for a long time. Back in the 1960's, when I was of college age, the sensitive souls among my contemporaries often looked to poets when seeking meaning and consolation. That doesn't seem to be the case today.

Padel's admission of bad behavior could be seen as a sign of a great family in decline. You see, the woman is the great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. I'll bet there are more than a few anti-evolutionists who are chuckling at that.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home