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Noted Indian poet Arvind Mehrotra fails to rhyme with voters

Ruth Padel elected Professor of Poetry at the Oxford University

18th May 2009: Foreign authors in the UK penning down scripts of success in second-language English have reasons to feel bad. Noted Indian poet Arvind Mehrotra, contesting the election for the prestigious post of Professor of Poetry at the Oxford University, has lost to Ruth Padel. She is non else than great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin.

Just in case you do not know, Mehrotra’s prospects had brightened by the withdrawal of Nobel Prize-winning poet Derek Walcott. But, in the election, he polled 129 votes against Padel’s 297.

Oxford graduates and staff were entitled to vote for the five-year post.

Padel, an Oxford alumnus, who now succeeds Christopher Ricks, has become the first female to achieve the honour since the post was created in 1708.

Reacting to the development, Sally Mapstone, chair of the English Faculty Board, said: “It is tremendous that May 2009 has seen the election of the first woman Professor of Poetry at Oxford and the first woman poet laureate. Ruth Padel will be a dynamic and distinguished Professor and we are very pleased to welcome her,” said Sally Mapstone, chair of the English Faculty Board.

Padel has drawn unanimous accolades for participation in seminars for the Euroscience Forum Barcelona, the Royal Society and Royal Society of Medicine, and the series of poems on famous naturalist Charles Darwin ‘Darwin A Life in Poems’, which was published this year.

Back to Mehrotra, he was born in Lahore and educated at the universities of Allahabad and Bombay. The journal Fulcrum said his poems are “coded messages from the unconscious, but there is an exceedingly conscious hand that crafts them.”

A History of Indian Literature in English, which he edited, was awarded the Choice magazine’s Outstanding Academic Title of the Year. He is also the translator from the Prakrit, and author of four collections of poems, including, most recently The Transfiguring Places.

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