Eyewear founder in the frame for Oxford poetry professor role

News - Academic Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Dr Todd Swift on shortlist for prestigious post

Dr Todd Swift has made the final ballot for the position of Oxford Professor of Poetry - traditionally seen as the second-most prestigious poetry role in the UK, after the laureateship. Former holders of the post, held for a five-year term, include Christopher Ricks, Paul Muldoon, Simon Armitage and Geoffrey Hill.

This year's election begins on 23 May, with statements by each of the three candidates - Alice Oswald, Andrew McMillan, and Swift. In a statement on Facebook Swift wrote that he hopes "poetry will be the final winner" regardless of which poet is selected. He has always been an advocate of small press publishing, and would be considered one of the more experimental poets to reach this stage.

Swift (pictured) was the 2017-2018 Poet-in-residence at Pembroke College, Cambridge; and the former Oxfam GB Poet-in-residence. His own poetry has appeared in 9 full collections, and more than 10 pamphlets. He has also edited numerous anthologies and founded the New McGill Reading Series.

According to a statement from Eyewear: 'A Catholic poet, he often writes about loss of faith in a digitalised world; his chief concerns as a poet are surviving childhood trauma; mental health awareness; ecology; sexual and gender identities (he identifies as queer); and questioning of capitalism and other institutional forms of power.

'He is known for being one of the staunchest advocates of an open definition of poetry, and enthusiasm for its endless potential. He believes, alongside his hero, FT Prince, that literature can be both good and evil, and needs to attentively balance its aims and styles.'

Indie press Eyewear, which has been publishing for seven years, took over Black Spring Press earlier this year.

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