Nobel laureate, Prof Wole Soyinka, has emerged the leading candidate for the prestigious position of Oxford Professor of Poetry, a 300-year-old position regarded by many as the top academic role in the United Kingdom.
According to the Britain’s Guardian newspaper, the 1986 Nobel Prize for Literature winner has received over 90 nominations, 40 more than the required number, from Oxford graduates and looks set to replace Geoffery Hill, who will complete his five year tenure this summer.
To be named the Oxford Professor of Poetry, candidates need to receive at least 50 nominations.
Soyinka has at least 36 nominations more than his closest rival for the position, Ian Gregson, a poet, literary critic and Professor of Creative Writing at Bangor University, who was backed by 54 graduates.
The Oxford professor of poetry was first held in 1708 by Joseph Trapp.
Past occupiers of the post include prominent poets like WH Auden, Seamus Heaney, Matthew Arnold and Paul Muldon.
In 2009, the position was plagued by controversy when it was revealed that the winner, Ruth Padel, the first woman elected into the post, had spoken to journalists about alleged sexual harassment of her closest rival, Nobel laureate, Derek Walcott.