Nigeria noble laureate Professor Wole Soyinka lost his bid to become the next Oxford University’s professor of poetry. The well known and respected poet lost to British poet Simon Armitage. Allage claims was that the Nigerian icon is too old for the job at 80 years of age.
Professor Armitage scored 1,221 votes to Professor Soyinka’s 920. After the votes for the position was counted yesterday. Professor Armitage, a popular poet and broadcaster, was backed by more names, including John Carey and Melvyn Bragg.
Poet Simon Armitage
Professor Wole Soyinka, is the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and a respected playwright and political activist. He was do doubt an early favourite for the position after acquiring the highest number of nominations.
The Oxford University professor of poetry post is a 300-year-old elected post. The Oxford University’s professor of poetry position is seen as the top academic poetry role in the UK. Exalted writers who have held the position in the past include Matthew Arnold and Seamus Heaney.
Last month, Lord Bragg threw a spanner in the works when he publicly withdrew his support for Professor Soyinka and switched allegiance to Professor Armitage, claiming that the Nobel laureate who will be 81 next month is too old and insufficiently committed to the job. He said Professor Soyinka, who turns 81 next month, has not written much poetry recently. Others pointed to the Noble Laureate’s failure to submit written plans for his time in the post as an indication that he would not be fully committed.
Written by: Noellin Imoh-Griffiths