Armagh’s rock-and-roll poet

A delightful profile of Paul Muldoon in a recent New York Times magazine…

Poetic reputations are fragile and fleeting, and often hard to measure. Depending on which critic you listen to, Muldoon, at 55, is “one of the five or so best poets alive,” “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War” and a serious contender for the Nobel Prize, or else he is a victim of “pyrotechnical autism” who writes “artificially enriched, overinformed doggerel.” And his literary criticism is even worse. “Bedlam — an associative madness,” the Oxford don Valentine Cunningham said after listening to some of Muldoon’s Oxford lectures.

Not that Muldoon pays much attention to his critics. He is preoccupied these days with his other careers — as a university administrator and a minor-league rock musician. He sports an Irish-Afro hairdo — an hommage, perhaps, to Heaney’s famously unruly thatch — and he still speaks with an Ulster accent. In fact, he sounds a little like David Feherty, the television golf commentator.

(Hat-tip to Blogorrah)

  • Pete Baker

    Just to add, Aaron..

    There’s a favourable review of Paul Muldoon’s Oxford lectures here

    Two-thirds of the way through each lecture, he reassuringly announces that he is about to reach a conclusion. He never does; the end comes only when the hour is up, because he has demonstrated the inexhaustibility of these poems.

    And, as usual, Amazon has it in the online shop

    Not that it’s connected with the timing of the NY Times profile at all..

  • Martin

    As a fan, the long-standing criticism of Muldoon’s poetry as empty wordplay (‘pyrotechnics’ is pretty good, though) has never cut much ice. Who says poetry should be a matter of ‘sincerity’? And who says ‘sincerity’ has to be expressed without an awareness of the patterns of language, the verbal games that can be played (or that you can’t avoid playing)?

    It’s all good clean brainy fun – but there’s much more to it than that.

    Muldoon also has a pretty good website here.