Nobel laureate and political activist Wole Soyinka has put himself forward as one of three candidates for the position of Oxford professor of poetry, a 300-year-old elected post which is seen as the top academic poetry role in the UK.
First held by Joseph Trapp in 1708, the professorship, second only in prestige to that of poet laureate, has been filled in the past by Matthew Arnold, Cecil Day-Lewis, WH Auden, Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon. The 2009 election saw the acclaimed poet Ruth Padel, the first woman to be elected, resign less than two weeks after securing the post. Her departure came after the revelation that she had alerted journalists to allegations of sexual harassment which had been made against her rival for the position, Nobel laureate Derek Walcott.
The eminent poet Geoffrey Hill was elected the following year ahead of nine other candidates. Hill, winner of a host of poetry awards, will complete his five-year tenure this summer, with Oxford graduates due to vote on their choice of his successor next month.