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ALICE OSWALD NEW OXFORD PROFESSOR OF POETRY

Posted on June 25 2019

 Succeeding Simon Armitage, Alice Oswald has been announced as the new Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. The first woman to hold the position in its three-century existence, she was described as “the best UK poet now writing, bar none” by former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and Ted Hughes' “rightful heir” by Jeanette Winterson. Oswald received a landslide 1,046 of the votes cast by the Convocation, with Andrew McMillan and British-Canadian poet Todd Swift claiming 210 and 58, respectively.

The prestigious four-year professorship includes the responsibility of a public lecture each term, and an oration at the University’s honorary degree ceremony every other year. It is one of the highest accolades for poetry in the country, with previous professors including Seamus Heaney, Robert Graves, and W. H. Auden. To be considered, the candidate must have the support of at least 50 Oxford graduates – Oswald had 167, including former poet laureate Andrew Motion, who says she “richly deserves the honour of the position”.

Highly acclaimed, Oswald’s most recent honours include the PBS Choice for Autumn 2016, the Costa Award and the Griffin Prize for her collection Falling Awake. She has also received the Forward first collection prize (The Thing in the Gap-Stone Stile, 1996), the TS Eliot award (Dart, 2002), and the Ted Hughes prize (Weeds and Wild Flowers, 2010).

Professor Ros Ballaster, the chair of the English faculty board at the university, said:

"I am delighted to welcome the 46th Professor of Poetry at Oxford to the English Faculty, confident that this new voice will challenge and excite audiences as predecessors have done… Hers is a remarkable, resonant talent and we count ourselves privileged to host her for the next four years. We know that she will foster with wisdom and generosity the talent of others in Oxford and beyond."

Oswald’s statement includes plans to stage “extreme poetry events”, like “all-night readings of long poems, poetry in the dark or in coloured light, even perhaps a Carnival of Translation, A Memory Palace, a Poem-Circus … or an exhibition of mobile poems”.

 “It’s exciting to be engaged in poetry at a time when its medium is changing almost as radically as it did in the eighth century BC. I see no reason why Instagram poems shouldn’t prove as rewarding as concrete poems or the visual poems of classical Chinese and I’d welcome the chance to invite young poets to engage in discussion about what poetry has been and is becoming.”

– Alice Oswald, new Professor of Poetry

Alice Oswald will begin her post as Oxford University’s 46th Professor of Poetry on October 1st, 2019. PBS Members can order her latest collections via the links above with their 25% discount.

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