Academic poetry

One of the most intriguing appointments in the academic world is that of the Professor of Poetry at Oxford University – a post held in the past by celebrated poets such as WH Auden and Seamus Heaney. The appointment is by election, and the voters are the members of ‘Convocation’, which includes all graduates and all staff of the university. Holders of the post have often been involved in controversy. The last appointment was made in 2009, but the winner of the election, Ruth Padel, resigned shortly afterwards amidst claims about a smear campaign against her rival, Derek Walcott.

This year’s winner was announced yesterday, and it is Geoffrey Hill. Hill is recognised as one of the most respected poets (writing in English) in the world. His poetic style is quite accessible – he has not abandoned metre and rhyme as many modern poets have – but the poems themselves are full of complex academic and intellectual matters.

This is how Geoffrey Hill has summarised the nature of poetry:

‘The poem is a struggle between truth and metre. . . . It is a meeting between message, rhythm and syntax, particularly the syntax of enjambment, and it is very rare that this combat leads to a triumph for the poet.’

Poets, if they understand the popular mood and are capable of responding to it, can play a major role in presenting the narrative of society at any given time. Geoffrey Hill is a fine poet, and I hope he will inspire a new generation to appreciate the importance of this art form. It is possibly a role we should also wish to see established in one of the Irish universities.

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5 Comments on “Academic poetry”

  1. Vincent Says:

    The following are the Lit’ Aosdana. Don’t you think that we should push marketing-wise that list before adding another tier.

    Leland Bardwell
    Sebastian Barry
    Dermot Bolger
    Pat Boran
    Eva Bourke
    Paddy Bushe
    Moya Cannon
    Marina Carr
    Ciaran Carson
    Philip Casey
    Harry Clifton
    Michael Coady
    Evelyn Conlon
    Anthony Cronin
    Peter Cunningham
    Tony Curtis
    Ita Daly
    Margaretta D’Arcy
    Philip Davison
    John F. Deane
    Seamus Deane
    Neil Donnelly
    Mary Dorcey
    Theo Dorgan
    Paul Durcan
    Christine Dwyer-Hickey
    Peter Fallon
    Bernard Farrell
    Pádraic Fiacc
    Gerard Mannix Flynn
    Brian Friel
    Patrick Galvin
    Carlo Gébler
    Vona Groarke
    Hugo Hamilton
    Kerry Hardie
    Michael Harding
    Francis Harvey
    Anne Haverty
    Dermot Healy
    Seamus Heaney
    Aidan Higgins
    Rita Ann Higgins
    Pearse Hutchinson
    Jennifer Johnston
    Neil Jordan
    Trevor Joyce
    Claire Keegan
    Adrian Kenny
    Thomas Kilroy
    Louis Lentin
    Michael Longley
    Brian Lynch
    Tom MacIntyre
    Bernard MacLaverty
    Deirdre Madden
    Aodhán Madden
    Derek Mahon
    Hugh Maxton
    Eugene McCabe
    Colum McCann
    Thomas McCarthy
    Medbh McGuckian
    Frank McGuinness
    Conor McPherson
    Paula Meehan
    John Montague
    Paul Muldoon
    Val Mulkerns
    Jimmy Murphy
    Richard Murphy
    Tom (Thomas) Murphy
    Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
    Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
    Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
    Jim Nolan
    Micheál Ó Conghaile
    Julia Ó Faoláin
    Críostóir Ó Floinn (O’Flynn)
    Liam Ó Muirthile
    Cathal Ó Searcaigh
    Edna O’Brien
    Julie O’Callaghan
    Ulick O’Connor
    Mary O’Donnell
    Dennis O’Driscoll
    Ciaran O’Driscoll
    Desmond O’Grady
    Donal O’Kelly
    Mary O’Malley
    Micheal O’Siadhail
    Glenn Patterson
    Timothy Robinson
    Billy Roche
    Gabriel Rosenstock
    Maurice Scully
    Peter Sirr
    Michael Smith
    Gerard Smyth
    Matthew Sweeney
    Colm Tóibín
    William Trevor
    Michael Viney
    Macdara Woods
    Vincent Woods

    • Jilly Says:

      Ah yes, the standing army of poets. Looking at that list, I’m inclined to think we could take the term literally.

      And anyway, we do already have an Irish equivalent (albeit not elected), in the form of the Ireland Chair of Poetry, currently held by Michael Longley.

  2. Hilongos Says:

    What makes poetry so wonderful is the fact that it involves all of life, every concern, every desire, and every feeling. If something has some great significance to a person’s existence, then it has a great significance in poetry as well.

  3. Perry Share Says:

    We do have an <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2010/0630/breaking53.html"Irish PoP – Harry Clifton, listed above.

  4. Perry Share Says:

    sorry ’bout the dodgy HTMLing above.
    should have been this link. Too late to be blogging!


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