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Smear campaign allegation leads to poet's resignation

May 25, 2009

Tags: literature, culture, weird


UPDATE: Ruth Padel now says she tipped off journalists to the old harassment complaint. So much for the early denial ....

Ruth Padel, the first woman to ever be elected Oxford Professor of Poetry, has resigned the post over allegations she was involved in a smear campaign that earlier led fellow poet Derek Wolcott, a Nobel Prize winner, to withdraw from consideration.

The smear campaign involved anonymous letters detailing a sexual-harassment allegation against him from 1982, while he was teaching at Harvard. Padel denied involvement in the letter campaign, but stepped down anyway.

And I thought presidential politics was a full-contact sport.

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About me


A third-generation journalist, I was born in Scarborough, Maine, and grew up there and in Wellsville, New York, about two hours south of Buffalo. My first newspaper job came at age 16, writing a high school sports column for the Wellsville Patriot, a weekly (defunct), then covering local news part-time for the Wellsville Daily Reporter.

After attending Fredonia State, where I was editor of The Leader newspaper and news director for WCVF campus radio, I worked in succession for the Jamestown Post-Journal, Rochester Times-Union (defunct), The Detroit News and the Los Angeles Times, where I covered presidential and other political campaigns, books, local news and features, including several Sunday magazine pieces.

An active freelancer, my work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Sierra Magazine, Los Angeles magazine, Orange Coast magazine, New York Times Book Review (books in brief), Buffalo News, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Teaching Tolerance (Southern Poverty Law Center), Solidarity (United Auto Workers) and elsewhere. I teach or have taught journalism courses at Chapman University and UC Irvine, and speak occasionally at school and college classes about journalism, politics and writing. I've appeared on panels at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and the Literary Orange festival, moderated panels at the Nieman Conference in Narrative Journalism and the North American Labor History Conference, among others, and been featured on C-SPAN's Book TV.

I'm also a co-founder of The Journalism Shop, a group of journalists (most fellow former Los Angeles Times staffers) available for freelance assignments.



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