Eleven shall go in, only one shall emerge, and hopefully it will be the brilliant malevolent stare of Geoffrey Hill that decides the contest. I swear the man could kill you with an eyebrow. But seriously, let’s be honest, this is a no-brainer, despite how good any other candidate might be.Â Hill might very well be the best writer working in English, much less poet. Let’s get him lecturing about it in the highest profile, most well-documented post in the world. Do it for history, Oxfordians.
Eminent English poet Geoffrey Hill is widely seen as the frontrunner for the post, the most prominent in British poetry behind the poet laureate. Backed by Professor Hermione Lee, author and president of Wolfson College, Oxford, and broadcaster Tim Gardam, principal of St Anne’s College, the award-winning 77-year-old Hill has been nominated by more than 70 Oxford graduates and is the best-known name in the running. His appointment could help dispel the sordid air that has hung around the professorship since the resignation of Ruth Padel from the position last year, after it emerged that she had alerted journalists to sexual harassment allegations made against Nobel laureate and fellow contender Derek Walcott.
Hill will be competing for Oxford graduates’ votes against Beat poet and musician Michael Horovitz, who has promised to “shake things up” were he to be elected by opening discussions out to “everything which is broadly poetic”.