Skip to main content

Without A Padel

The news that Ruth Padel has resigned from the position of Oxford's Professor of Poetry - after only holding this most-honoured post for a week or so - is sad enough. But seeing how the media has - as if this was a replay of Frost/Nixon - hounded a serious poet out of a serious house - makes it bad, too. Eyewear believes Padel, once appointed, should have been allowed to remain. While I think it was low to send out anonymous packages smearing Walcott, it is also clear Padel herself did not do this; and, it is also clear that Walcott's academic misconduct was documented and real. Why shouldn't a man or woman worried about harassment be able to mention this openly? There is something loathsome about the way a bunch of eminent older male establishment figures from broadcasting and academia began to pile on the abuse - against Padel, the brilliant poet, not against the allegedly-predatory older poet.

The media fuelled this crisis. It escalated because - almost uniquely for poetry in the UK - it was on the front pages for the last few days. Eyewear believes that, should journalists cover poetry more closely, they'd realise a lot of its doings are sub-Nixonian in terms of deals and secret agreements and other carrying on (a lot of backs get mutually scratched, a lot of people get blackballed) - but it seems a bit rich to start now, and act as if Padel was the first, or worst. Perhaps her crime was hubris. The literary types who run the show in London don't like people climbing above their station. Padel knocked out Faber's big boy, and that must have made a few people wince. Now, where are we? Oxford has lost out on two superb candidates - okay, perhaps flawed as humans, but not as poets - and what started so well has become a second-rate Greek tragedy.

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…