Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon

Born and raised in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in a house without books, Paul Muldoon has lived in the U.S. for over twenty years, and is generally regarded as the leading Irish poet of his generation. Winner of many distinguished awards, including the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, he is also a playwright, essayist, editor, translator, librettist, children’s book author, teacher, and musician.

Muldoon’s sidelong wit, formal ingenuity, and linguistic exuberance are legendary. A master at making and finding patters, he is “distinguished by his idiosyncrasy” (New York Times Book Review). While Muldoon’s personal history, the histories of the people in his northern Irish home town, and his experiences of living in Belfast in the 70’s and early 80’s figure into the poems (as does his life following emigration), they are not so much autobiographical or expressive as cryptic, arcane, and filled with allusions and illusions. As the Times Literary Supplement has it, his verse “delights in a wily, mischievous, nonchalant negotiation between the affections and attachments and Muldoon’s own childhood, family, and place, and the ironic discriminations of a cool literary sensibility and historical awareness…[These are] deft, artfully effortless poems.”

Muldoon’s latest poetry collection, Horse Latitudes, displays his extraordinary facility with rhyme and form, and includes a poem about Bob Dylan, an extended villanelle about soccer moms, and a group of sonnets exploring the aftereffects of adopting a new homeland. Other collections of poetry include The Annals of Chile; Why Brownlee Left; Hay, and Moy Sand and Gravel, for which Muldoon won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize. Other distinguished awards include the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Time Poetry Prize, and the Griffin International Prize.

A lyricist, Muldoon has had a song recorded by Warren Zevon, and he plays the guitar for Rackett, a band he started with colleagues at Princeton, where he is the Howard G.B. Clark Professor in the Humanities. He is also the poetry editor for The New Yorker.

Poetry Center Reading:
Spring 2009

Poems by Paul Muldoon




The Poetry Center at SMITH COLLEGE
Smith College name="smith">Smith College