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Paula Claire withdraws from Oxford poetry professor election

11th June 2010

The only female candidate for the University of Oxford poetry professorship has pulled out of the race, making allegations of favouritism.

Oxford-based poet Paula Claire claims that the university's 'repugnant' election process increases the chance of best-known candidate Geoffrey Hill winning the position.

Claire said the 'last straw' was seeing a flysheet in the university's official journal, the Gazette, that called Hill 'the finest living poet in English today'.

'I'm very happy to say that he is one of the finest poets in English today - I agree with that. But not the finest,' she explained in a letter to the University of Oxford.

The university denied the poet's allegations that the election process is unfair and explained that any candidate who has the support of ten or more dons or senior administrators is entitled to publish a flysheet in the Gazette.

Claire also claimed she has withdrawn from the race 'for women' and pointed out the post has never been filled by a female candidate in its 302-year history.

Announcing her decision to run for the professorship in April, Claire said she would use the post to look at hidden 20th century forms of poetry and examine how modern technology can be used to disseminate art.

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