Simon Armitage has been appointed professor of poetry at Oxford University, after winning 1,221 of the 3,340 votes cast.
Armitage, who will hold the position for four years, beat off competition from Nigerian playwright Wole Soyinka (who came second with 920 votes), A E Stallings, Ian Gregson and Sean Haldane. He replaces Geoffrey Hill.
Speaking to the Guardian after the appointment was announced, Armitage said he was “delighted and very excited and suitably daunted as well”. He said he wanted to show students that the position is not “a platform for professorial grandstanding”, adding: “For me, it’s a chance to say something a little bit more contemporary. Often it’s been professors talking about previous generations. I feel as if I’d like to bring thing up to date. To look at poetry today, in dialogue with the poetry of the past.”
Armitage’s works include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Faber), Little Green Man (Penguin) and The Dead Sea Poems (Faber), and he was awarded a CBE for services to poetry in 2010.
In his application for the role of professor of poetry he said he fell under poetry’s spell when he was 15. “At first I only wanted to read poetry, then eventually and inevitably wanted to try myhand at the stuff. Now, after so many years in the field, I feel I have plenty to say on the subject and a desire to talk and write about it.”
Previous holders of the position have included Seamus Heaney, W H Auden and Robert Graves.
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