Too Old to Be a Poetry Professor at Oxford

May 13, 2019

The University of Oxford introduced a rule in 2017 mandating that all professors retire before their 69th birthday. That rule applies to all fields and would violate antibias laws in the United States.

Many poets say that the rule is particularly ill suited for their field, and they are writing about the issue now that some prominent poets who were nominated for an open professorship have been told that they will not be considered because they are older than 69.

Michael Horovitz, one of them, wrote in The Guardian, "Poets tend to resist institutionalization and rarely if ever retire. Good poetry itself is, as Ezra Pound declared, 'news that stays news.' To rule out the potential contributions of numerous older poets who may want to apply in years to come, at a point in life when they will be likely to have achieved a considerable knowledge of poetic arts and crafts, seems not just unfair, but wilfully to defy administrative logic. I beseech my Oxford alma mater to rethink this blind, blanket application of routinely youthist policy, which will limit the dissemination of thought and learning from the very people who have devoted long careers to poetry, for what appears to be no good reason whatever."

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