Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Poetry wars ...

... The Oxford Professor of Poetry fiasco: Is there not a strong female poet available for the job?


  1. The man for the job had better be Arvind Khrishna Mehrotra, or there is more scandal we don't know about. And I'll bet there is more to this scandal than we have been shown.

    Because Mehrotra could run against Ruth Padel after Derek Walcot withdrew, then only he can be the professor of poetry. As they were advised to, Oxford should have redone the nomination process before the election of Padel. Otherwise, they must accept him now. If this does not happen, then Oxford will clearly have supported Padel, knowing Mehrotra would lose after Walcott withdrew. It looks like a fix, like someone at Oxford wanted Padel in the job enough to rig the election--with or without being in cahoots with her.

    This raises the question once again: Who sent the dossiers? It's looking more and more like someone within Oxford now, someone who could have blocked any discussion about a renomination. Part of the sense to renominating after Walcott dropped out, was that we had not gotten to the bottom of this. James Fenton who held the position was pointing at Padel as part of this issue, and in that regard, he was right. There was no closure, and yet there was an election while the scandal was blossoming. There were reporters like one sharp cookie Olivia Cole of The Standard with e-mails from Padel, flags going up.

    So, Padel running against Mehrotra both means and meant that Padel would win. We now need to look at how Mehrotra's cap got thrown into this arena. If it was to be Padel versus Walcott, Walcott wins. If there was only to be those two, and Walcott withdraws, there would have had to have been renomination in order to have an election with choice. Down this tangent, Mehrotra or someone like him, looks like part of the rigging process. If a third candidate comes in, a Mehrotra not a Heaney or an Armitage, there could still be an election. All that would have to be done, is to eliminate Walcott, who stated clearly that he only wanted the position because he was welcome to it. Thus, the dossiers: Sex pests need not apply.

    After the fact now, we all have this hopeful discussion about how it would be great to pick a woman poet, any woman poet, or Clive James, or who knows whose cap will be tossed up now. And we're to have a discussion about merit. We had something like that before, and Walcott was to win on those grounds.

    Anyway, here is a link to a group of articles that I just put up on Poetry & Poets in Rags: [Ruth Padel] wished the next professor.


  2. You're so right, Rus; and, it's imperative that point be made. I absolutely believe the only honourable thing now remaining to do is to bestow this bedraggled honour upon Mehrotra. Thank you for saying so publicly; and, oh, BTW, how the heck are you? I hope things that go vroom are vrooming for you, mon ami-aroo :).

  3. I just left a comment on this post at The Globe and Mail's "In Other Words," Rus, just FYI; but, you may be interested in the contents of my comment . . . (which sorta echoes tea and oranges, Constant Comment, LOL).

    p.s. Red-letter day here: My 1990 Dodge Dakota by the name of Adam just hit 350,000 kms; and, he ain't even burnin' oil yet :)

  4. Hi Judith,

    It's Dakotas like Adam that'll put Chrysler out of business. How cool that you drive a truck. I love trucks. I have a 1996 Silverado with 180,000 miles or 290,000 km. My son drives it. It's his and his girlfriend's lovemobile. Looks great and runs great. My last one had 215,000 miles or 346,000 km before it got smashed and totaled.

    You made it simple on the Mehrotra deal. If Oxford gives it to him, they'll get a good one, and they'll come out smelling like, well, not like a rose, but less like an old croc-odile shoe fresh off the manure pile.


  5. Well, Adam's a trooper and he's my first truck (which explains his name; my computer's are all called Rudolph and this one is Rudy IV after that Peter Gabriel song and I don't know anything about PG nor his band nor other songs but there's some song with Rudolph in it that was playing when I set up my first PC and it had something to do with somebody playing with his, hehehehe . . .).

    Y'know, not to digramble (sowwy) too much; but, I think it's a tragedy what's happening to both Motown and Windsor (to which I feel close and my BFF lives there and it's very bad economically, just hellish, for all sectors because of the auto-sector demise). I guess I sound protectionist; but, I think we have to be protectionist; and, I did say so, based on what I found in McLuhan, in an essay I wrote, "Beyond Survival" in, BION, 1995!

    "Almost four decades ago, McLuhan foresaw a corporate stanglehold — facilitated by electric-electronic media — that would result in the death of literacy, morality, and sovereign individual rights. He predicted show-biz politics, besieged cities, ubiquitous surveillance systems, electronic highways, and cyberspatial pseudo-realities that would dominate the 'discarnate' human being. The violated self would be cut adrift in a corporate cesspool of immoral fictions, splintered factions, party lines, quasi-agreements (GATT, FTA, NAFTA, etc.), and sophisticated advertisorial slogans intended to increase profits and decrease the responsibility of individuals entering an economically driven (and politically shifted) global village."

    In short? I think NAFTA, GATT, et.ilk opened the door to foreign imports and destroyed our self-reliance and prosperity. I will never forgive Bullmoaney Mulroney for putting Canada through those paces because now, we are suffering that locked-step locked-out locked-down mindset. If we hadn't allowed Toyota, Honda, et omnia alia to build factories here in Southwestern Ontario and take business away from what we call the Big Three, we'd be a helluva lot healthier, IMO. Just my deux, natch; but, I think it applies to the U.S., too.

    As for the Oxford debacle, I spent this morning wondering WTF? WHY did Oxford not go to Mehrotra the same way, pardoning the analogy, say, when a beauty queenie loses her tiara, the first runner-up gets to strut it in her bathing suit and high heels with little fairy-dust sparkly eyes and "Omigosh, I'm so beautiful and airwalkin' 'cause I don't gots lots o' brains but all that work on me me me worked and my boobs are balloons and my botox costs . . ."; and, you see what I mean? I am pisst :). (And, no, I don't drink so I don't mean drunk :).)

    I just signed an online petition that got 25,000 signatures here in Ontario that made the government sit up and take notice, one concerning the Amber-Alert rules because of the Tori Stafford tragedy in Woodstock, also hurting because of the auto-sector failures, BTW.

    I wonder . . . you might wish to look it up because it's a boiler-plate website that allows one to create such a petition and see how much work we'd have to do; but, ah, then, I'm a Canadian and you're an American and we're talkin' Oxonians and . . .

    It's a fucking miscarriage of poetic justice, though, if you ask me (and even if you didn't, I still think it is).

    Never mind. I am still proud of you for acing No. 44 on the Top 100 Poetry Blogs. Standing, O, RusBo :) . . .

  6. OT to RUS ('n' D/A CRUISERS):

    Okay, Rus: Now, let's get down 'n' greasy talkin' wheels: How did yours get totalled? What happened?

    I like them Silverado(e)s . . . '96 was a good year. Now, I look at the new Dakotae; and, I don't like the look of 'em so much (let alone the ticket price :).)

    And, forgive me for pry-barring; but, you must mean that your son and GF's lovemobile has one of them little back-seat thingies?

    I've got bucket seats in my truck; and . . . Oh, well, erm, forget that obstacle (unless it's really cold in the bed, LOL). I've got a DELTA truckbox, too, so, yeah, I can relate (or, could; just gimme the op and lemme be on top) . . .

    Adam's a V6 (and old enough to be going to university, now, OMGulp); though . . . V/good on mileage; and, natch, I get the ol' GOF every 4,000 kms; but, my all-time numero-uno faveruno vehicle, I gotta admit?

    That 1977 Plymouth Fury with the slant-six; Man, I drove an ol' cop-car yellow one during uni; and, I put 300,000 miles on 'er ("The Yellow Whore of Trawna"); and, once? I drove her down the concrete stairs offa Vaughan Road near Arlington, a barrier of sorts, I kid you not!

    We — er, my "date" who was goin', "Holy Fuck! Holy Fuck!" and I — just cruised back onto Vaughan and no one was ever the wiser ('cept I had to have my gas tank replaced 'cause it developed a slow leak :)) . . .

    I know: I was young, reckless, and man-oh-menna, that back seat saw a lot of something in the good ol' glaze-daze (before the '80s) . . .

    Serially, though: Even now, I've got so little rust on Adam, my mechanic says he's good to go for 450,000-500,000 kms! I even sent a pic of him to DODGE CANADA and they emailed me back and said, OOOH, Nice Boy, Ma'am!

    What? You have to ask moi, *the* black-and-white thinker with the black-and-white indoors-and-out house with all black furniture and all white walls, what colour he is? When I don't need a new anything on 'im (like a new driver-side wiper arm and blades right now)? Me 'n' Black Beauty cruise along at 140 kms per hour, easy-peasy . . .

    I do admit I had to use my heavy-duty Stanley stapler to reattach the roof lining inside the cab a couple years ago; but, it worked like a charm. Even my mechanic stole that chop off me!

    Truckers honk when I pass 'em after they see this five-foot nuthin' eighty-pounder who blows 'em all away (since I know how to beat 'em all on red-going-green lights); plus, I am a speed demon (but not anywhere but on the freeways and highways, never anywhere near children or other species).

    So, STANDING O-RINGS (I meant), RUS BOWDEN, on Poets 'n' Poetry in Rags making it to that great list (where I saw Poetry Hut had also aced it). Very kewl, er, do I mean, Very hot-shot stuff?

    Both, natch.

    p.s. I waited till 4:04 to honor (American) your achievement, #44, even :) and? I've got money on Detroit agin' dem Pens (which 'splains it)

  7. Hi Judith,

    Last year my son Dan was driving to pick up his girlfriend to take her to her prom. A Yukon sped up and hit him as he crossed and almost cleared an intersection. The Yukon hit the truck in the back of the bed from two feet behind the cab, but pushed it across the street to the other side of the intersection and pinned the truck against a telephone pole, which made a perfectly round indentation on the drivers side of the bed. Dan was okay.

    It's great to think that Obama is so smart he can fire CFOs of automobile manufacturers and replace them with the more Obama-qualified, those who will put only Obama-mobiles on the road. The trucks will be Chevy Silvobamas, Ford F-Obamas and Dodge Dobamas. The shiny new car on the drawing board is the Yesobama, named after the sound the horn makes.


  8. O, NoBama: say it ain't SnoBama :(

    Dan and his girl sound very much like the luck of the truck was on their side. Sorry the vehicle got trashed; but, I bet you weren't thinking about that when it happened. I bet you were counting the horseshoes on your arse your kids were okay. Trucks are replaceable (even SnoBamamatic ones); but, your kids! I'd be freaking. Hope the Yukon driver got what s/he deserved; but, watching the way our own judiciary and traffic-coppers behave, I am not like, y'know, high-hopin' . . .

    Not anymore. I've seen too many vehicular killers of kids walk on time served to believe much of anything righteous and just happening anywhere anymore. Cynical? No. That's what I fight daily; just a little too old to be anything but pragmatic and realistic. Crime pays (look no further than our governments :)).

    Hey, BTW, if you think I've not noticed things :), I think this link might say something to you, My Friend. It has been very busy and I am considering my next move, if you get my gist in terms of what we are, in fact, discussing (and, in which post it began :(( . . .


    p.s. I am glad your son and GF are okay; I also like that pic of you :) . . .
    p.p.s. Word-veri thingie: Litoic — what? I'm supposed to stoic for literature???

  9. Ah, Rus, sorry. Don't think Dennis censored comment @ MobyLives(but, if he did, whoa . . . that's so low); think because it had more than one link it was auto-rejected. I just pointed out your DW 'n' AM pages on your 'site and IBPC's 'site with props. Just so you know. I'll do better next time. You'll see . . . Trust me.
    (Famous Last Weirds.)
    p.s. Didja know I am carrying the Olympic Torch on New Year's Eve, the most important day of that relay? (McLuhan died on that date in 1980, too.) But, I carry it into the New Year for our 2010 Winter Olympics (and, I am telling you this because I will have to be there with Adam and you might get to see him in the fresh)

  10. Hi Judith,

    Good morning. I think I have the flu this morning.

    Thanks for trying to link, and looping me in.

    How cool to be carrying the torch. If the medium is the message, that makes you the message. But then, that makes Adam the message.


  11. Well, I will never write on that fiasco again as long as my fingers can still type; but, I will repay the acknowledgement (which means so much to me, you have no idea, I feel so alone there, so attacked, always). Someday, your ship will come.

    And, I hope this is not the dreaded kind of flu . . . I always get that flu shot. I never go anywhere; but, people do come here and they bring their prezzies. Had pneumonia last winter and it started as a flu. So? Please, go see your doc; at our age, things ain't what we think we be :).

    I mean it, though. You don't have to report back; but, please, let us lose some of the lousy ones; I have a vested interest in keeping some of the great ones -- that would be you. GO SEE DOC!

    You made a note of it? Good boy!


  12. Hi Judith,

    I worked all day today sick as a dog. I hope this night isn't as bad as last night. I'm on the sick side of my tired-sick cycle. It's a drag. One benefit is that I've taken off 12 pounds in the past few weeks. I'm not shy about seeing my doctor. It's true, though. As we get older, one of these times, we'll be terminal.

    But, here's Shirley Dent's take in sp!ked: Why you should care about the Oxford poetry scandalYours,

  13. Rus, I urge you to go to an Emergency Department. I am not over-reacting, okay? You sound very ill; and, perhaps, just perhaps, you're not in the best frame of mind to judge how you're feeling (given you're ill)? Nothing matters more than ensuring you're okay, okay? <*/nag*> :) . . .

    Thanks for that link (and, thank gawd Shirley Dent's got her head planted firmly on her shoulders; I am itching . . . oh, as you know, I do not / cannot write about this fiascum anymore and never did get to make the case for Mehrotra; but, that's hurt under the dirt (and, I think we've not heard the last of it, thank the Lard a second time).

    (Grudges hurt their holders, IMO. I ain't stewin' in anyone's juices, not when I gots my own V-8 on ice.)

    Here's a link for you in exchange, though, one from which I cite but one sentence, one that makes me wonder whether he's considering his legal options:

    "Indian Arvind Mehrotra, who was the runner up to Padel in the vote earlier this month, said he needed more time to consider his position."
    — Stephen Adams, "Oxford poetry chair could go to a foreign writer, says Seamus Heaney," The Daily Telegraph (29 May 2009)

    If so, I applaud his smartuitive acuity. He inherently possesses every right and grounds to so do; I unconditionally support him in that undertaking. I know he's not wealthy (and, I remember reading about him saying the stipend for the lecture would pay for a subway ride); but, you know, I think if he were considering that course, a hi-profile legalist (Fiona Shackleton, perhaps?) might take up his case pro bono.

    I'd even contribute to a fund if he did wish to mount a legal challenge; I bet, among us, we could gather enough emotional, psychological, and financial support to aid him in ensuring the right outcome prevails. I hope he's reading Books, Inq. (and, why wouldn't he be? <*waves*>).

    Now, in a perfekk world, you'd go to the hospital and Arvind would go to court.

    What're my odds, hrrmmm?


  14. Hi Judith,

    I had read that article, but did not notice what might be behind Mehrotra's statement. In the mean time, George Szirtes has been remaining behind him as well.

    My plan on my NFW, was to get to bed as early as possible last night. Getting out of work after 6:00 didn't help the cause, but I was in bed before 9:00. And I slept fairly well--compared to Thursday night. I'm feeling shaky and a little achy, but better, like I'm getting better. I'm off to work now, and will have tomorrow off.

    Thanks for caring.



  15. Praise the Lard. Whew . . . C'mon, though, 'fess up: How in the hell did you resist his achy-breakiness <*blink*> . . .

    J/checkin' . . . Just makin' sure you're awake :). Sowwy. I'm just happy; it sounds like the fever broke, though; that's good. Now, you just get to go back to square none with our normal aches and pangs, the slings and sorrows of outrageous aging (and, I NEVER checked that box on up-growing, I swear!).

    I left a comment on George's post. It's very good. He's not a hot-head and I think he's really our best hope to get things rolling over there. There's something fishy; I cannot put my finger in the wound; but, there's something wrong with that pic and it's drifting along the frame of my consciousness and it's almost . . .

    Oh, I cannot say it till I can prove it.

    Blogger's limiting post-lengths? I've heard that twice, now; once from Art; once from someone else. Sux! (In the grand scam of things, one .jpg takes up more space than an entire lecture; what gives [or, conversely, takes])?

    Anyway, I did reply to Libby Purves on her "Misogyny" rant; but, The Times PTB nixed that noise; so, here's what I said (and, in a subsequent comment, I'll repeat the censored MOBYLIVES addition I left which, I am now convinced, didn't appear because Mehrotra's Indian and Walcott's St. Lucian).

    I think they're pisst because they tried to divert the racism by throwing up 'graphs about misogyny. Ain't gonna happen, not as long as I hang around this neck of the world.

    "An appetite for power," lamented Marquez, "is the result of an incapacity for love." How can one possibly justify this betrayal of poetry by desperately reaching and questionably clinging to an outmoded and nillogical argument defending the indefensible? Misogyny? No. Mistrust? Yes. Of this screed. [A ref to Purves's rant about poor SWNIWNTTA's bein' a dame and gittin' the short end of the schtick and yadda-yadda-yick!]

    Anyway, we'll keep it alive. It can't be under rug swept forever; and, surely -- with Shirley Dent -- we know there's power in squeaky wheels (just ask Adam! Hey, at least I've come full wheelie-circle :).)

    But, whew, you! Don't ever get ill again. I shall have to kill you if you do, LOL. Your kind of grace, class, open-minded generosity, kudos-acknowledging kindness, and honour's needed now more than ever, ya hear moi? Good, St. Rus :)!

    xoxooxoxoxoxxo <------- Joy in Fitzwahili

  16. HI Judith,

    I promise not to question any of your hunches about anything ever again, not for the rest of the week anyway. So I went to work. And instead of experiencing the inescapable nausea and sick feelings that I have had for the past few miserable days, it turned into inescapable pain. Stand, sit, walk, no matter what I would do, it would quickly become two times too much to bear.

    At about 10:00, I decided to leave work and drive to the hospital a half mile down 38. Not only am I in pain, but I am behind a slow poke who is simply enjoying the day and happy to have all the stressed out people behind him enjoy life from his slower vantage point. In the mean time, I am debating whether to pull over, because I am heaving.

    That wasn't the flu, not with the pain and the heaving I went through today. God, no. And it wasn't kidney stones, which is what they thought--with the pain severity, blood pressure out of whack, soreness locations, and the blood in the urine--what they thought until the cat scan found no cat. The nurse said worse. It's a bad kidney/U.T. infection. What a ridiculous monster.

    Deb and Rebecca at Saints Memorial ER rock, by the way. And now I'm back from the ER, packing the power pain medication with antibiotics. I must say, though, I went back to work, because I had two customers who were picking up their cars. I spent about an hour there, until 3:00.

    Love and thanks.

    Okay, you asked for it. Do you line dance country style with a big smile on??


  17. Jaysus B. Jaysus, Rus! I am so effing relieved (sowwy) you went to the hospital. I can't explain this; but, I am so freaking glad you did. It couldn't turned into something much worse and very quickly. Guyz have to be so careful after a certain point. You know it and I know it. Oh, I'm so glad you're okay, I'm actually weeping and I think that's just relief we know you're okay and I sleep during the day and just woke up so it's a one-coffee weep. Sorry. But, Praise Him you're okay. Or, will be.

    Drink, drink, drink (and, no, I don't mean booze but you know I don't mean booze).

    Oh, whew. You don't need to follow any more of my hunches this week; you need to get well and WTF? You're working? Yeah, I know. (FWIW, I'd do the same thing, especially with a family and all of it; besides, a new car in this economy? You couldn't disappoint the new owners, I hear you).

    Okay, if you're sending me to YouTube? I'll go later since that slows down Rudy IV and I don't want to reboot him till I go back to sleep in the wee hours of Sunday since I'm working on two pieces, one on an award being given here next week, the other on . . . Drumroll, Cymbals, Sitars, Guitars . . . (Oh, might as well throw in Stan Getz and getz this done right, right?) . . . why Mehrotra ain't the Poetry Prof?

    My little contrib; but, I want to do what I can in this country and ours is the number-one on- and offline national newspaper so, mebbe I can change one or two peeps' mind/s?

    I sure as heck hope so. See? I am doing my best to keep my language clean :).

    Oh, did I tell you thank you for going and listening, FINALLY, to me and how much better you've made me feel? I did? Well, get well and drink lots of liquids and I hope them painkillers tide you over; as Frank knows, you have to careful if you have any respiratory probs with 'em; so, drink lots of fluids and eat lots of roughage, too.

    Love and Big Hugz, Nurse FitzNagDame :) . . . whew . . .
    p.s. If this YouTube clip has something to do with Billy Ray Beautiful? Ha! I have an autographed to moi with thanks 8 x 10 glossy that he signed at the height of that craze when he was still a kid before he had any kids, OMGulp, we are gittin' old, ain't we? Never mind, let me drown in my juicy delusions, K? K . . . whew!

  18. Listen up, Butter Cup:

    You sent me to see that achy-breaky freaky-creaky thang? Me? OMGasp, I covered country music for The Toronto Star when all this was <*ahem*> breaking (since I know it so well, grew up with it, in fact, love it to pieces; but, I could not watch BR Beautiful do it again). I met him; and, I loved him to look at him; but, he's not my type (and, I never liked that mullet look). I like the flop-mop look, y'know, the just-outta-bed (with me, preferably) look :). J/kiddin' . . . (If I don't watch it, I'm going to get a rep as rez slut or something . . . Well, I can always hope, LOL!)

    How are YOU feeling, though; that's all I really wanna know? Is the pain easing and are you getting more sleep, drinking lots of fluids, and taking it easy-peasy, watching the Wings destroy the Pens, yadda-yadda-yum?

    Hope so.

    Anyway, I went and found my Billy Ray Beautiful pic for you; but, it wasn't him who thanked him; it was George Jones; so, I uploaded both of em here for you in hopes that they will bring a smile to your face, too. N-Joy. (I met George in Nashville in the office of MCA with Tony Brown, actually, the guy who turned Wynonna and Reba and Vince and . . . into phenoms.) I did meet Garth later, when he was doing his Fresh Horses tour; but, I like his wife better, voice-wise.

    Anyway, I promised I would post the CENSORED BY MOBYLIVES comment here; but, upon reflection, elected to send it to you (as you know); but, we've covered booze, trucks, feeling like dogs, mother-effers, and so, no, I don't gotta wonder why we haven't gotten around to David Allen Coe and "You Don't Call Me, Darlin'" (Steve Goodman); since I just hafta say I wasn't drunk the day my maw got oughtta prison (although, sometimes, I feel like I am still living in one).

    Feel better. And, don't forget to keep jumping from moving trains of thought!™

  19. Sorry for all my typetinos :( . . .

    E-gawds, I am multi-tasking, can you tell? Ms. Perfekk ain't. I wasn't drunk the day my maw got outta prison and the link to the pics of BRC and GJ is here. Sorry.

    Love, Crazy Minnie (happy with Mickey and Goofy; ask Frank :))

    p.s. I am saving all my perfekk stuff for the piece on Mehrotra, if you must know (and, yeah, I think you must!)
    p.p.s. Eat lots of oranges and watermelon (since it snowed here this morning and half the Highlands are without Hydro; but, for a change, it ain't me, Babe)