Writer in Residence

Ruth the Reckless

By Pamela Mordecai

reck (rěk)

1. to have care, concern, or regard
2. to take heed or to have caution

What intrigues! What Machiavellian plots! What underhand dealings!

Who would have believed that electing a new Professor of Poetry at Oxford would result in such bizarre carryings-on!

Bans o’ character assassination!

Protestations of innocence come to naught!

Exclamation marks for so!

The poor little button on my keyboard, line two from the top, next to the end on the left, is bawling out for mercy!

Okay, little key. No more. I promise.

I won’t rehearse the story, because everyone, I’m sure, has now heard it. If not, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05...

I will express my disappointment with Ruth Padel. She too reckless, man! She wouldn’t make Professor of Poetry at Updown Elementary, and it have nothing to do with her poems.

It’s because she don’t have the smarts, and poets ought to have smarts.

As I’ve already said, I share Ms Padel’s distaste for teachers who choose, as objects of their lechery, young lasses whom they teach, and that includes Caribbean writers who happen to be Nobel Laureates. There are, by the way, three of them – Caribbean writers who are laureates, that is.


If she thought the St Lucian poet oughtn’t to have the post because he represented a danger to vulnerable young women, or because he fell far below the high moral standards of that ancient institution of learning, or because she was concerned to lift the bar, inaugurating a new era of probity and rectitude at Oxford, she should have refused to be a candidate in the race, and then she should have loudly voiced her reasons.

Think of the headlines:

Ruth Refuses to Run with Rogue

Ruth Rebuffs Reprobate in Oxford Race

Padel Punts for Purity

People would have rushed to read her books.

Instead she used lowdown means to smear her Nobel rival and, worst of all, claimed to have had no part in the detraction.

She sent e-mails? To journalists? And she thought to keep them hidden?

Hasn’t she heard of the place in the Pentagon where all dead e-mails go? Of hackers? Of two-faced purveyors of information whose only loyalties are to the news?

We simply would not have her at Updown Elementary.

Because our poetry profs can run rings round Anansi.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book.

Pamela Mordecai has been many things: a teacher, a trainer of teachers, a TV host, a diplomatic wife, an anthologist, a writer of poems, stories and textbooks for children, and a writer of criticism, fiction, poetry and plays for those challenged by age. Born and raised in Jamaica, educated there and in the U.S.A., Pam has lived in Toronto for the past 15 years.