Full Candidate Statement
When I was nominated for Professor of Poetry in 2010 and came third out of eleven, there was some debate about whether the post required an Oxford insider or an outsider. I claim to be both, in that I lived the Oxford experience as an undergraduate and got a First in English, but I have never been an academic. I resolved early never to make a living from poetry or by teaching it, and that any earnings from my poems would go towards publishing poetry by others. The main published books of my own poems are: Skindiving (Ladysmith Press, 1972), Desire in Belfast (Blackstaff Press, 1992), Lines from the Stone Age and Always Two –Collected Poems 1966-2009 (Greenwich Exchange, 2000 and 2009). The Memory Tree – Poems 2009-2015 will be published this year.
I have worked as a small press publisher, part-time farmer, writer, and clinical psychologist / neuropsychologist in various health services – including the NHS, where I established Memory Clinics in East London – and as an expert witness in civil and criminal court cases. I still have a part-time practice in London in neuropsychology supervision and psychotherapy. From 1968 to 1972 I was co-publisher at The Ladysmith Press, in Québec, which published over 20 books by young poets. In 2013 I founded Rún Press, Ireland, which publishes ‘Pocket Poems’, small hardbacks of the Complete Poems of poets whose work has previously not been fully collected. Its first books (2014) are the Poems of Valentin Iremonger and The Poems of Martin Seymour-Smith.
Across the decades I have published books on practical psychology, ‘student guides’ on Donne and Hardy, collections of poems, editions of poets (Trumbull Stickney, Kenneth Leslie), essays on poets and poetry in various periodicals (mainly the Scottish-American poetry magazine, Dark Horse, and The Reader), and two books on the nature of poetry – What Poetry Is (1970) and Time / No Time – the Paradox of Poetry and Physics (2014). I now also write novels. The Devil’s Making – A Victorian Detective Mystery won the Canadian Best Crime Novel award 2014 and is being published in a new US edition by Macmillan in 2015.
When I was at Oxford the Professor of Poetry was Robert Graves. His lectures were provocative. I remember undergraduates saying ‘He can’t mean it!’ But he kept an open door when at St Johns, and I and many others felt free to visit him. In private he was as frank as in his lectures. As Professor of Poetry I would establish just such an open presence.
I would lecture on such things as: What Poetry Is and Is Not; Poetry, Brain and Body; Paradox in Poetry and Physics; Poetry in Different Englishes; Poetry and Music. The poetry I know best is in English, but I am also at home with French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Gaelic (Irish and Scottish). If elected I shall finally be breaking my resolution not to teach poetry, but shall square that by channelling part of the stipend into publishing it.
VOTING IN THE ELECTON
Voting is from 22 May to 17 June.
REGISTRATION TO VOTE CLOSED ON MONDAY 8 JUNE
FLY SHEET, OXFORD GAZETTE, 21 May 2015
Seán Haldane has long-standing family connections with Oxford (his great grandfather Sir William Schlich founded the School of Forestry). He obtained a First in English in 1965. His doctoral studies were in North America where he then worked in clinical psychology and neuropsychology. He returned to England in 1994, setting up Memory Clinics in the NHS and doing medical-legal work, both civil and criminal.
He has published books on psychology and psychotherapy as well as on poets and poetry, and his recent historical crime novel about an Oxford detective in British Columbia in 1869 has won a major award.
His double life as a poet and scientist-practitioner is reflected in his friendships with other poets and with neuroscientists and physicists. He is used to poetic and scientific thought and sees no incompatibility between them.
Historically the Professor of Poetry has been not only a writer in residence but a scholar, and the early professors often gave lectures on Latin and Greek poetry. Seán Haldane speaks and reads French, Italian, German, Portuguese and Gaelic and has either written about or translated poetry in all these languages. With his wide range of knowledge and experience he will be a distinguished occupant of the post.
He is a publisher of other poets’ work, and his own poems have always had a circle of readers. Robert Graves (Professor of Poetry, 1961-6) wrote about Haldane’s first volume of poems in 1968: ‘I like Seán’s poems: clean, accurate and no nonsense – they still have the original poetic nap on them. They make sense, which is rare these days.’ The Scottish poet Helena Nelson wrote of his Collected Poems 1966-2009: ‘Reading through Haldane’s volume is an extraordinary experience, not unlike walking very close to a waterfall. Things sparkle and flash on all sides: one becomes mesmerised and fascinated by the energy, the force of the flow… I am not sure if Haldane’s other existence in neuropsychology has to do with it, but there is often the sense of a mind watching itself with the reader invited into the brain. It is eerie and intense.’
If elected Professor of Poetry Seán Haldane intends to lecture on such topics as What Poetry Is and Is Not; Poetry, Brain and Body; Paradox in Poetry and Physics; Poetry in Different Englishes; Poetry and Music. In his Candidate Statement he writes about Robert Graves: ‘In private he was as frank as in his lectures. As Professor of Poetry I would establish just such an open presence.’
Paul Charles Adams, Department of Pharmacology
Michael Broers, Lady Margaret Hall
Ivor Crewe, University College
Nicholas Graham Irving, Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences
Dr A M Knowland, University College
Peter Jezzard, University College
C A Miller, University College
L G Mitchell, University College
William A. Roth, University College
Tiffany Stern, University
FULL LIST OF NOMINATORS
See full list
Note: The University requires at least 50 nominators. This list of 57 nominators includes two names of people who are graduates of Oxford but who have not had their degrees formally conferred and who are not included on the University list. Another two names on the University list have recently been deleted after I notified the University that they were there in error, so it stands at 55.
Paul Adams, Department of Pharmacology
Richard Andrews, St John’s College
Laura Batchelor Somerville College
Shauna Bevan, University College
Timothy Bevan, University College
Michael Broers, Lady Margaret Hall
Michael Buckley, University College
Rip Bulkeley, Exeter College
Jeff Burley, Green Templeton College
Laura Cockburn, University College
Nathaniel Cockburn, University College
Peter Cockburn, University College
Stephen Cockburn, University College
Ivor Crewe, University College
Thomas Dinham, University College
David Filkin, University College
Anthony Gardner, St Catherine’s College
Lucia Graves, St Anne’s
Benjamin Harrison, Christ Church
David Harrison, University College
Nicholas Irving, Nuffield Dept of Clinical Neurosciences
Elizabeth Kendall, Somerville College
Sholto Kynoch, Worcester College
Sally Lloyd-Bostock, Lady Margaret Hall
David Logan, University College
Anthony Lurcock, University College
Alexander Macdonald, University College
Robert McHenry, University College
Rory McTurk, University College
Marcus Miller, University College
David Mills, University College
Robert Moore, Merton College
Penelope Moyle, Nuffield College
S A Moyle, Worcester College
Daniel Norman, New College
Richard Norton, University College
Lucy Oldfield, Brasenose College
John Pattison, University College
Richard Perkins, Christ Church
David Potter, University College
Diane Purkiss, Keble College
Oliver Ramsbotham, University College
Timothy Salmon, University College
Henrietta Sansbury, New College
Tania Saxl, Merton College
Robin Schlich, St John’s College
Stephen Schlich, New College
Peter Slinn, University College
Martin Sorrell, University College
Tiffany Stern, University College
Michael Stone, University College
Boudewijn Van Oort, University College
William Waterfield, University College
Bruce Watkin, Christ Church
Patrick Wheeler, Christ Church
Janet Williamson, St Catherine’s College
Michael York, University College