© Image by Jemimah Kuhfeld

Paul Muldoon

(b. 1951)

"Form is a straitjacket in the way that a straitjacket was a straitjacket 
for Houdini." Paul Muldoon.

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These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

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Select bibliography

  • Knowing My Place Ulsterman Publications, 1971
  • New Weather Faber and Faber, 1973
  • Names and Addresses Ulsterman Publications, 1978
  • Spirit of Dawn Ulsterman Publications, 1975
  • Mules Wake Forest University Press, 1977; Faber and Faber, 1977
  • (ed)The Scrake of Dawn (Poems by young people from Northern Ireland) Blackstaff Press, 1979
  • Why Brownlee Left Wake Forest University Press, 1980; Faber and Faber, 1980
  • Immram Gallery Press, 1980
  • The O-O's Party Gallery Press, 1981
  • Out of Siberia Gallery Press, 1982
  • Quoof Wake Forest University Press, 1983; Faber and Faber, 1983
  • The Wishbone Gallery Press, 1984
  • Selected Poems 1968-83 Faber and Faber, 1986
  • (ed)The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry Faber and Faber, 1986 (Reissued 2006)
  • Selected Poems 1968-86 Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993; Ecco Press, 1987
  • Meeting the BritishWake Forest University Press; 1987 Faber and Faber, 1987
  • Monkeys (A television play, directed by Danny Boyle.) British Broadcasting Corporation, 1989
  • Madoc: A Mystery Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1990; Faber and Faber, 1990
  • Shining Brow (An opera in two acts with music by Daron Hagen.) Faber and Faber, 1993
  • The Astrakhan Cloak by Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (translation) Gallery Press, 1993
  • The Annals of ChileFarrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994; Faber and Faber, 1994
  • The Prince of the Quotidian Wake Forest University Press, 1994; Gallery Press, 1994
  • Incantata Graphic Studio, Dublin, 1994
  • Six Honest Serving Men (A play in one act.) Gallery Press, 1995
  • The Last Thesaurus Faber and Faber, 1995
  • New Selected Poems 1968-94 Faber and Faber, 1996
  • Kerry Slides Gallery Press, 1996
  • Hopewell Haiku Warwick Press, 1997
  • The Noctuary of Narcissus Batt Faber and Faber, 1997
  • (ed)The Faber Book of Beasts Faber and Faber, 1997
  • Hay Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1998; Faber and Faber, 1998
  • The Bangle (Slight Return) Princeton: The Typography Studio, 1998
  • Getting Round: Notes towards an Ars Poetica Essays in Criticism, April 1998
  • Bandanna (An opera in two acts with music by Daron Hagen.) Faber and Faber, 1999
  • The Birdsby Aristophanes (translation with Richard Martin) Gallery Press, 1999; University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999
  • To Ireland, I The 1998 Clarendon Lectures, Oxford University Press, 2000
  • Poems 1968-1998 Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001; Faber and Faber, 2001
  • Vera of Las Vegas (An opera in one act with music by Daron Hagen.) Gallery Press, 2001
  • Moy Sand And Gravel Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2002 Faber and Faber, 2002
  • Unapproved Road Pied Oxen, 2002
  • Reverse Flannery (Magical Tales of Ireland) Random House, 2003
  • Medley for Morin KhurEnitharmon Press, 2005
  • Horse Latitudes Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2006, Faber and Faber, 2006
  • The End of the Poem (Oxford Lectures) Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Faber and Faber, 2006
  • The End of the Poem: Oxford Lectures: Oxford Lectures in Poetry Faber and Faber, 2006
  • The Drowned Blackbird (translation) Princeton University Press, 2007
  • The Fifty Minute Mermaidby Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill (translation) Gallery Press, 2007
  • When the Pie Was Opened American University of Paris/Sylph Editions, 2008
  • Wayside Shrines Gallery Press, 2009
  • Plan B Enitharmon, 2009
  • Paul Muldoon Reading From His Poems The Poetry Archive, 2009
  • Maggot, Faber and Faber, 2010
Paul Muldoon is one of Ireland's most outstanding contemporary poets, and one of the most admired English-language poets anywhere in the world. He was born into a Catholic family in 1951 in a predominantly Protestant region of Portadown, County Armagh in Northern Ireland. His father was a farm labourer and his mother a schoolteacher. Although his family was not wealthy, he has said in an interview for the BBC that his parents sent him to elocution lessons as a child, and bought a piano for him and his two siblings so that they might "improve" themselves.

Muldoon went to St. Patrick's College, where he learned Gaelic and studied Irish literature, and where he also wrote some of his first poems in Gaelic, later switching to English to give himself greater linguistic control. Until he discovered the work of Seamus Heaney and other Irish poets, Muldoon's main early poetic influences were Robert Frost and, in particular, T.S. Eliot.

He studied English at Queen's University of Belfast under Heaney who, recognizing his precocious talent, arranged for a manuscript to be sent to Faber. This resulted in the publication of his first full collection New Weather in 1973. This collection sprang from his experience of Northern Irish country life, but also included poems set in America, and references to popular culture. "That is a part of Eliot that stuck," Muldoon said in an interview with the Guardian, "If you look at something like The Waste Land, there are lots of snatches of ballads and songs and the apparently inconsequential things that we have around us."

Paul Muldoon has since gone on to produce more than 30 collections of poetry and has won many awards including the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Pulitzer Prize. His complex re-shaping of poetic conventions, Joycean word-play,cunning fragmentation of narrative, splicing-together of references to high and popular culture, and generally brilliant playfulness have led him to be called the pre-eminent post-modern poet of the age.

The first part of 'Immram' (the Gaelic for 'voyage', and the central poem in his 1980 collection Why Brownlee Left) can be heard on this page; it derives from the ancient Irish poem 'Immram Curaig Maele Duin'. The poem works with the Irish vision-quest genre, adapting it to include allusions to a wide variety of other sources, including film noir and Raymond Chandler. It is a dazzling performance, tackling complicated questions of home and identity, and Paul Muldoon reads it here with a compelling mixture of intensity and insouciance.

This recording was made at the Audio Workshop, London on July 3rd 2009 and was produced by Richard Carrington.


2009 John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence

2004 Aspen Prize for Poetry

2004 Shakespeare Prize

2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award

2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry Moy Sand and Gravel

2003 Griffin Poetry Prize (Canada) Moy Sand and Gravel

2002 (shortlisted) TS Eliot Prize Moy Sand and Gravel

1997 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry New Selected Poems 1968–1994

1994 TS Eliot Prize The Annals of Chile

1992 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize Madoc: A Mystery

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