WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR POETRY 2003 Paul Muldoon's ninth collection of poems, his first since Hay (1998), finds him working a rich vein that extends from the rivery, apple-heavy County Armagh of the 1950s, where he was brought up, to suburban New Jersey, on the banks of a canal dug by Irish navvies, where he now lives. Grounded, ...
WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE FOR POETRY 2003 Paul Muldoon's ninth collection of poems, his first since Hay (1998), finds him working a rich vein that extends from the rivery, apple-heavy County Armagh of the 1950s, where he was brought up, to suburban New Jersey, on the banks of a canal dug by Irish navvies, where he now lives. Grounded, glistening, as gritty as they are graceful, these poems seem capable of taking in almost anything, and anybody, be it a Tuareg glimpsed on the Irish border, Bessie Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth I, a hunted hare, William Tell, William Butler Yeats, Sitting Bull, Ted Hughes, an otter, a fox, Mr and Mrs Stanley Joscelyne, an unearthed pit pony, a loaf of bread, an outhouse, a killdeer, Oscar Wilde, or a flock of redknots. At the heart of the book is an elegy for a miscarried child, and that elegiac tone predominates, particularly in the elegant remaking of Yeats's 'A Prayer for My Daughter' with which the book concludes, where a welter of traffic signs and slogans, along with the spirits of admen, hardware storekeepers, flim-flammers, fixers and other forebears, are borne along by a hurricane-swollen canal, and private grief coincides with some of the gravest matter of our age.
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Publishers Weekly, 2002-06-17 This first full volume since Muldoon's monumental Poems 1968-1998 reveals one of the English-speaking world's most acclaimed poets still at the top of his slippery, virtuosic game. Born in Northern Ireland, for more than a decade Muldoon has lived, taught and raised a family in Princeton, N.J. Hay (1998) showed Muldoon incorporating his wife's Jewish-American heritage, and his life as a father, into a poetics previously noted for its formal complexity, its shaggy-dog-story narratives, and its interest in Irish history. This substantial collection furthers Hay's subjects. It succeeds with fast-paced poems of suburban observation and whimsical memory in difficult forms: some inherited (terza rima, sestina, tercets, haiku, catechism, Yeats's "Prayer for My Daughter" stanza), others invented (a sonnet, each of whose first 12 lines ends in "draw"). Occasional poems return to the Irish Troubles Muldoon has long, off and on, described: "A Brief Discourse on Decommissioning" explains "you can't make bricks without the straw that breaks the camel's back." The book's most serious poems ground themselves instead in Muldoon's household. "The Stoic" meditates on a miscarriage "our child already lost from view before it had quite come into range," while the long closing poem places Muldoon's young son Asher in a context that combines Irish and Jewish history with Victorian wilderness stories, lines cribbed from Yeats, and Muldoon's own comic postures: "I, the so-called Goy from the Moy." A few of Muldoon's translations (Horace, Caedmon, Montale) seem slight, and several poems rely, perhaps too heavily, on allusions to Muldoon's own previous work; take those out, though, and what remains is a complicated network of verse declarations, stunts and depictions that may be fun for, and turn out to describe, a whole family. (Oct.) Forecast: If Muldoon is coasting a little here, his work still outshines most of his competition, and will draw regular readers back. These poems should work extremely well at readings, and should win readers grappling with similar issues of multiethnic parenthood. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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