Though Paul Muldoon's voice is thoroughly his own, a taste for turbulent rhythms and fantastical journeys firmly links him with some of our finest poets, most notably Samuel Coleridge. In "The Mud Room", the start of this stunning collection, the speaker juxtaposes wildly dissimilar images--Pharaohs and Kikkoman soy sauce, Virgil's Georgics
and "cardboard boxes from K-Mart", ziggurats and six-packs. Why? Because in piecing together the whole of our collective human past--the past of Jackson Brown's "The Pretender" and the past of Epicurus--Muldoon casts a vote for inclusion, a vote against exclusivity and relegation. He travels far to show such close relations. Rather than focus on differences, we're forced to consider a resemblance between rock stars and Pharaohs, and in turn a grander likeness that joins us all.
But in drawing together common connective strands of history, culture and emotion, Muldoon is anything but general. His language is highly original and searching. He doesn't merely sniff dispassionately at the "otherness" of words; like an excited hound that has discovered the scent of another animal, he rolls vigorously in it--and makes it his own:
So a harum-scarum
bushman, hey, would slash one forearm
with a flint, ho, or a sliver of steel
till it flashed, hey ho, like a hel-
These poems resonate with an easy coexistence of the ordinary and exotic. Whether penning rhymed haiku (rhymed haiku?
) about placid farm life ("None more dishevelled / than those who seemed most demure. / Our rag-weed revels"), or a pantoum about Cracow ("Into the Vistula swollen with rain / you and I might have plunged and found a way / to beat out the black grain / as our forefathers did on threshing day"), Muldoon's words gleam like jewels unearthed from everyday mud. --Martha Silano
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He read English at Queen's University, Belfast, and published his first collection of poems, New Weather
, in 1973. He is the author of ten books of poetry, including Moy Sand and Gravel
(2002), for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and Horse Latitudes
(2006). Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he is the Howard G. B. Clark Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University. From 1999 to 2004 he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, Paul Muldoon was given an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in 1996. Other recent awards include the 1994 T. S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, and the 2003 Griffin Prize.