Michael Horovitz - 'Very, very angry'
The race for the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University (and its stipend of £6,901 pa) has provoked a blazing row between author Duncan Fallowell and a contender for the prestigious post, poet Michael Horovitz, I learn. The ding-dong, prompted it seems by the caustic humour of one of Horovitz's rivals for the Oxford job, the mischievous Roger Lewis, took place very recently in a Notting Hill health club.
Duncan Fallowell - after his swim?
Duncan tells me: 'Horovitz verbally assaulted me in my health club for encouraging Roger - Roger wrote something mildly mocking about Horovitz in The Times apparently and Horovitz said, "I'm very very angry and it's all your fault!" And I knew nothing whatsoever about it. Mike overstepped the mark - I go to my health club to escape all that shit and relax in the beautiful swimming pool.'
So what did Lewis write in The Times? It must have been his piece of May 15 in which he set out his stall for the poetry professorship, titled 'Say No to Pompous Professors - Vote for Lewis', that caused offence. In it Lewis describes Horovitz, 75, and another heavyweight candidate, the poet Geoffrey Hill, 77, as 'nice old codgers', and their work as 'serious-minded to the point of pain and obscure of purpose.'
He added: 'Asked by a journalist what my campaign strategy might be, I said I’ll jump out from behind a bush in Hill’s garden and the bathroom door in Horovitz’s hut and shout “Boo”.'
Roger Lewis - gunning for Horovitz
Aside from his health club rant at Fallowell, Horovitz hit back at Lewis in a Guardian piece on May 28. He suggested Lewis 'waxed extremely unlyrical in trumpeting [his] pitch for the job' in the Times and nominated him for a 'Services to Dumbing Down award.' Boys, boys!