Oxford Poetry Professor Candidate Under Fire for Misconduct

Getting a prestigious teaching position at Oxford University is a serious accomplishment, but the selection process for the new professor of poetry has generated some serious controversy.

According to The Guardian, three candidates have been selected for the role of professor of poetry at the internationally-renowned university: Alice Oswald, Andrew McMillan and Todd Swift. While Oswald and McMillan have seen relative success within their campaigns for the position, Swift has come under fire for conduct concerns… and the conduct is concerning.


Todd Swift. Image Via Poetry Foundation


Specifically, critics have referenced Swift’s behavior while running the independent publishing company Eyewear Publishing. A report from The Bookseller said that Eyewear mistreated its poets by locking them in contracts that didn’t allow them to communicate with trade unions, specifically the Society of Authors. Bookseller journalist Heloise Wood elaborated on the nature of these troubling allegations:

To prohibit authors from contacting the SoA is to prevent them from taking independent advice from their trade union. Not only is this unenforceable, it constitutes an unwarranted interference with their civil rights. The termination clause is also extraordinary – the fact that it explicitly mentions the possibility of the publisher sending ‘rude emails’ that cause ‘hurt feelings’ speaks for itself.


Swift, and other poets who chose to remain nameless, defended the contracts:

Each contract we have signed since 2012 is bespoke, we try and base on industry standard templates,” he said. “They are all discussed with the authors. We are very short on resources and usually if authors object to a clause we delete.


Another complaint surfaced from Vida about Swift’s old tweets where he allegedly attacked emerging poets. Both the tweets and Swift’s entire Twitter page were deleted, and soon after, Eyewear released a tweet condemning Swift:


Image Via Vida


Swift did not respond to these complaints directly.

As of right now, Oxford does not have any plans to remove Swift from consideration for the position. The incoming professor will be decided on June 21, and we’ll have to wait and see whether or not Oxford University offers him the role. 


Do you believe Swift should be out of consideration for the position?





Featured Image Via British GQ.