Saturday, 30 May 2015

Sat 6 June - Supporting Wole Soyinka for Oxford Professor of Poetry


'The Act of Literature is a Symbolic Resistance' - Supporting Wole Soyinka for the Oxford Professor of Poetry

Benjamin Zephaniah writes: “In times like these when we are spending so much time and energy looking inwards and being nationalistic, Wole Soyinka will help us reconnect with the world and be more outward looking. We really need him."

Poets and writers Natalya Din Kariuki, Jude Cowan Montague and Gale Burns discuss the work of Wole Soyinka as a poet and activist and explain why 'The News Agents' support his candidacy for the Oxford Professor of Poetry.

The ocean meets the sea in the marketplace ... lost journeys of the mind ... we share the strange and marvellous ...

Jude CM's former tutor Lucy Newlyn is behind the campaign in favour of Soyinka and Jude is one of the nominators.

Election of the Oxford Professor of Poetry: Hall’s English Fellow leads campaign for Wole Soyinka

Friday, 29 May 2015

Wole Soyinka - image by Pietro Naj-Oleari
Image by Pietro Naj-Oleari
Five candidates have been nominated to succeed Geoffrey Hill as the next University of Oxford Professor of Poetry: Simon Armitage, Ian Gregson, Se├ín Haldane, Wole Soyinka and A E Stallings. Professor Lucy Newlyn (St Edmund Hall Fellow and Tutor in English) is acting as the representative for one of the front-runners, Wole Soyinka. Commenting on the election this morning, she said: “Soyinka has the stature, gravitas and intellectual power to give unforgettable lectures; and he will fulfil all the duties of this post warmly, energetically, and with immense enthusiasm.”
All graduates of Oxford University (an electorate of around 250,000 people, known as ‘Convocation’) are eligible to vote for this highly prestigious chair, and the election has already attracted significant media interest.
149 people nominated Soyinka, who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986. They include St Edmund Hall’s Principal, Professor Keith Gull, and 25 of the College’s Fellows. A further 24 of the nominators are Hall lecturers or alumni. The JCR (the College's undergraduate student body) also voted in favour of supporting Soyinka’s candidacy when it met last Sunday.
They all believe that Soyinka would be outstanding in this role, capable of inspiring the University community with his published work, his vision of what literature is, and his way of talking about poetry. In a flysheet published in the University Gazette, 12 members of Congregation (including four Heads of House, the Warden of Rhodes House, and the Director of TORCH) wrote: “As the first African elected to this post, Soyinka’s appointment would be an immense historical milestone for Oxford University. He is an inspirational speaker, whose fascinating lectures would attract large, attentive, international audiences.”
He has received endorsements from many high-profile writers and public figures. These include Benjamin Zephaniah, who writes: “In times like these when we are spending so much time and energy looking inwards and being nationalistic, Wole Soyinka will help us reconnect with the world and be more outward looking. We really need him."
Professor Newlyn is delighted with the support Soyinka has received from colleagues in the Hall and across the University, as well as from Aularians: “The Hall is sending out a very strong signal to the electorate. Please join us, and help to make history by voting for Wole Soyinka, one of the world’s greatest living writers, as the next Professor of Poetry at Oxford.”

How to vote

Voting has now opened, and anyone with a degree from Oxford is eligible to vote either online or in person at the University Offices. To do so, you must first register to vote before noon on Monday 8 June (registration takes some time to process, so you are advised to register as soon as possible!). Votes must be cast by midday on Wednesday 17 June.
The result of the election will be announced on Friday 19 June.


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