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Pulitzer Prize-Winning Poet Paul Muldoon Takes His Audience on a Journey

Renowned poet, literary critic, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry, Paul Muldoon took his audience of more than 150 on a journey, as he read a number of his poems at Trent University's Champlain College Lecture Hall on January 12.

The journey took listeners from Northern Ireland, where Mr. Muldoon and his siblings were raised, across the Atlantic to New Jersey and Vermont, where several of his poems were set. Finally, the journey came close to a close with a poem that was set in Mr. Muldoon's home. Dedicated to his wife, the poem titled The Ancestor, is about a painting of a "stern women, whose eyes follow you in an accusatory way."

Poems ranged from serious to what Mr. Muldoon called "silly" and "sillier" and many focused on his family, his upbringing and his brother, Joseph.

Mr. Muldoon, who Prof. Stephen Brown says knows poetry "intellectually and intuitively," last visited Trent seven years ago.

"Each time he comes back, he is more celebrated than the previous time he was here," said Prof. Brown, master, Champlain College.

Mr. Muldoon encouraged audience members to interrupt, with questions or comments as he read.

"You won't be stopping me, you'll be part of a conversation," he said.

Mr. Muldoon is Howard G.B. Clark Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University and Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, a great honour to which he was elected in 1999.

Born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1951, Mr. Muldoon was educated in Armagh and at the Queen's University of Belfast. From 1973 to 1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the British Broadcasting Corporation. Mr. Muldoon is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his recent awards are the 1994 T.S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, and the 1996 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature.

Mr. Muldoon's main collections of poetry are New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Quoof (1983), Meeting The British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Annals of Chile (1994), Hay (1998), Poems: 1968-1998 (2001), and Moy Sand and Gravel (2002).

The Times Literary Supplement has described Mr. Muldoon as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War."

Posted January 13, 2004

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