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Ruth Padel can’t spell


The Guardian prints the email that disgraced poet Ruth Padel sent to the Evening Standard newspaper about Derek Walcott’s sexual harassment allegation. If you’re going to do some smearing, at least get your spelling correct.

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Richard Davies

2 Responses to “Ruth Padel can’t spell”

  1. The Descent of Man

    Courage and squalor in equal measure are said to have defined the recent spat over the professorship of poetry at Oxford. Was poetry itself the victim, asked Jeremy Paxman of Martin Amis? A silly question, really. Words are tougher than people, and poetry particularly so: it is a huge mistake, perpetuated by poor teaching, to think of poetry as a pure white virgin sheet, crying out in alarm at the slightest rumple. And after all, it was words, words, words which provided the medium for that most unpoetic of emails from Ruth Padel. Even mis-spelt they still wound:

    “There is aupposed to be a book called The Lecherous Professor, which has 6 pages on Derek Walcott’s two cases of sexual harassment, which might provide interestigfn copy on what Oxford wants from its professors”

    That ‘interesting’ says it all. There is a sneer to be heard in it, and ‘what Oxford wants’ is a pretty uncharitable way of writing about your prospective employer.

    No – words are sharp weapons alright. Just so, poetry is not always a flowery mead; sometimes it is a battlefield. Four hundred years ago this week Shakespeare aimed a shaft at a rival poet -the ‘full, proud sail of his great verse’. Had she been focusing on her poetry, perhaps our queen of nine days could have reflected on Shakespeare’s well-chosen words (more appropriate, perhaps, for the author of ‘Omeros’, than her own).

  2. Richard Davies
    Richard Davies June 1, 2009 at 2:15 pm

    Well said, Alex.