The Selected Innovative Poems of Paul Muldoon


October 20th, 2020





Roger Rosenblatt, writing in the New York Times in 2016, described Paul Muldoon as ‘one of the great poets of the past hundred years, who can be everything in his poems - word-playful, lyrical, hilarious, melancholy. And angry. Only Yeats before him could write with such measured fury.’ This is a selection (chosen by poet John Kinsella) of some of the more linguistically innovative and overtly 'experimental' poems from Muldoon’s extensive and verbally rich oeuvre. Muldoon is always innovative and ‘electric’, but the focus in this selection is on linguistic ‘departures’ in his own practice. Both inside and outside the avant-garde, Muldoon is ultimately a maverick whose unique voice is nonetheless steeped in the politics of a bilingual Irish poetics, with a forensic dissection of ‘New World’–‘Old World’ (false) verbal dynamics. We see and hear his poems in juxtaposition and proximity, in terms of those elements of his work that are possibly less appreciated and discussed by those who cast him as a lyrical purist who 'plays' with language. Muldoon’s is a poetry that is compelled, propelled and is 'political' in complex arrays, and isn't about ‘gameplay’ per se, but a politics of language. Muldoon has a driving purpose in all he writes, and the reader and listener may begin to get a sense of the possibilities of this purpose through engaging with this book.

'These writings think of our relation to place as not just as a function of "where we are but [also] where we have been and where we can perceive ourselves as having been, or imagine ourselves being"... For Kinsella, it is Muldoon's verse vagabondage through the thorny linguistic, historical, and mythological borderlands of his two homes that best captures this "multi-layered and cumulative picture of place". Not just "the prince of the quotidian", Kinsella's Muldoon is the laureate of polysituatedness.'
James Jiang, Australian Book Review

Author Information

John Kinsella is the author of numerous books of poetry, including Jam Tree Gully (2012), for which he won the Australian Prime Minister’s Award for Poetry, and Drowning in Wheat: Selected Poems (2016). His most recent critical book is Polysituatedness (Manchester University Press, 2017). He is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and Professor of Literature and Environment at Curtin University.