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Last Updated: Sunday, 16 May, 2004, 11:45 GMT 12:45 UK
Bob Dylan expert in top poet post
Bob Dylan
Prof Ricks published his work on Dylan last year
A Bob Dylan expert has been elected to one of the top literary posts in the country.

Bookmakers' favourite Professor Christopher Ricks beat his main rival by 39 votes to become Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

The Oxford-educated scholar's works range from the merits of poets such as Milton to a study of Bob Dylan lyrics.

Prof Ricks, currently working at Boston University, follows literary greats W H Auden and Matthew Arnold in the post.

He replaces poet and academic Paul Muldoon, who has completed a five-year term in the job.

Running as 'stunt'

The high-profile position is unlike other professorships because it is voted for by Oxford graduates in the same way as the university's chancellor.

The vote took place at the Divinity School on Saturday.

Professor Ricks, who published Dylan's Vision of Sin last year, had the backing of the Oxford academic community and was nominated by the heads of nine Oxford colleges.

His two published anthologies include The Oxford Book of English Verse.

He took 214 votes to beat his main rival, Australian-born poet Peter Porter, who had the support of current Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and author Julian Barnes.

Mr Porter took 175 votes, while third place went to Canadian and TS Eliot Prize-winner Anne Carson with 105 votes.

Outsider and ex-Oxford Union president Mark Walker, who claimed to be running as a "stunt", was fourth and Ian McMillan, the so-called bard of the terraces who writes poetry for Barnsley FC, fifth.

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