Sanskrit scholar in race for top Oxford poetry post

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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