About this poet

Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1951. He studied at Queen's University, Belfast, and has worked for BBC Belfast as a radio and television producer.

His most recent book of poetry is Maggot (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). Before that, he published Plan B (Enitharmon 2009), a collaboration with the photographer Norman McBeath, as well as When the Pie was Opened (Sylph Editions, 2008), General Admission (The Gallery Press, 2006), Horse Latitudes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2007), and Moy Sand and Gravel (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004), which won the Pulitzer Prize, among others.

He has also written libretti for the operas Bandanna (1999) and Shining Brow (1993); the play Six Honest Serving Men (1995); and edited The Faber Book of Beasts (1997), The Essential Byron (1989), and The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1986).

Muldoon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1990, the T. S. Eliot Award for The Annals of Chile in 1994, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature in 1996, and the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for his New Selected Poems (Faber & Faber Poetry, 1996) in 1996. In 2003 he won the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry.

Muldoon has taught at a number of British and American universities including Cambridge University, Columbia University, the University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts. He is currently Howard G.B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University and professor of poetry at the University of Oxford.

Extraordinary Rendition

Paul Muldoon, 1951
I.

I gave you back my claim on the mining town
and the rich vein we once worked,
the tumble down
from a sluice box that irked

you so much, the narrow gauge
that opened up to one and all
when it ran out at the landing stage
beyond the falls.

I gave you back oak ties,
bully flitches, the hand-hewn crossbeams
from which hung hardtack

in a burlap bag that, I'd surmise,
had burst its seams
the last night we lay by the old spur track.

II.

You gave me back your frown
and the most recent responsibility you'd shirked
along with something of your renown
for having jumped from a cage just before it jerked

to a standstill, your wild rampage
shot through with silver falderals,
the speed of that falling cage
and the staidness of our canyon walls.

You gave me back lake skies,
pulley glitches, gully pitches, the reflected gleams
of two tin plates and mugs in the shack,

the echoes of love sighs
and love screams
our canyon walls had already given back.

Excerpted from Maggot by Paul Muldoon. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Paul Muldoon. All rights reserved.

Excerpted from Maggot by Paul Muldoon. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Paul Muldoon. All rights reserved.

Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon

Born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, in 1951, Paul Muldoon is the author of numerous collections, including Moy Sand and Gravel, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

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