Sanskrit scholar in race for top Oxford poetry post
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Last Updated: Monday, May 10, 2010, 00:39
  
London: Vaughan Pilikian, a Sanskrit scholar who has written books on the Mahabharata and produced films focussed on Indian issues, is in the race for the prestigious post of Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.

Pilikian is among 11 candidates for the post, elections for which voting will start on May 21 and will close on June 16.

This year's field is the largest in recent years and features leading poets seeking to take up the prestigious position and follow in the footsteps of Matthew Arnold, WH Auden and Seamus Heaney.

Members of Convocation have to register before June 4 to vote, and all those eligible must register by the deadline in order to cast their ballot.

Voting will start on May 21 and will close on June 16.

In the past, voting has only been possible in person in Oxford on a single day but for the forthcoming election, the voting system has been updated.

As well as the new online voting system, voting by ballot box will be available over a period of time, rather than on one day, for all those who have registered.

Dr Seamus Perry, Deputy Chair of the English Faculty Board, which hosts the chair, said: "The new voting procedures were designed to involve more people in the election of the Professor, because we recognise that while poetry matters to academics it matters a lot to many people who aren't academics too.

And, happily, we seem to have encouraged many more nominations too, which must be a good thing.

It is great to see that so many poets are keen to be associated with the Oxford Chair of Poetry.

The field is both large and extremely diverse.

Those eligible can vote for their preferred candidate to succeed the current holder of the post, Christopher Ricks." The new Professor of Poetry will be announced once voting is completed and the votes are counted, on Friday June 18.

Besides Pilikian, the list of candidates includes Paula Claire, performer and artist; Michael George Gibson, performer and 'tunemaker'; Se?n Haldane, poet and neuro-psychologist; Geoffrey Hill, poet, critic, and lecturer: formerly Professor of English at the University of Leeds, Cambridge and Boston University; Michael Horovitz, beat poet, saxophonist and literary impresario; Robert P Lacey; Steve Larkin, performance poet and storyteller; Roger Lewis, biographer of Anthony Burgess; Chris Mann, South African poet and musician; and Stephen Moss, journalist and former literary editor of The Guardian.

The duties of the Professor of Poetry include giving a public lecture each term and the Creweian Oration at the University's honorary degree ceremony every other year.

The first poetry professor was Joseph Trapp who was in post from 1707 to 1718.

Some of the subsequent distinguished Professors of Poetry include John Keble, Matthew Arnold, WH Auden and Seamus Heaney.

The Professor is elected for a period of five years, and is not eligible for re-election.

The Professor receives a small stipend (currently 7,000 pounds), plus 40 pounds for each Creweian Oration, plus travel expenses for the Oration.

PTI


First Published: Monday, May 10, 2010, 00:39


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