21.6 x 13.8 cm. viii, 291 pp. 2006
Ulster Editions & Monographs Series (ISSN 0954-3392) volume 14
Ever since his student efforts thrilled Seamus Heaney in the early 1970s, Paul Muldoon has written poetry acclaimed for its brilliance and originality, its mischievousness, wit and complex artifice. Today, Muldoon is widely considered to be the greatest poet of his generation, not just in Ireland, but throughout the English-speaking world.
The twelve essays collected here chart the development of this unpredictable, innovative and challenging talent over the last thirty years. They offer a kaleidoscopic examination of Muldoon’s writings in the three genres of poetry, prose and drama, from a variety of perspectives, and without any polemical intention beyond that of celebrating his achievement.
Taken together, these essays attempt to map the continuity of Muldoon’s diverse and substantial oeuvre, but also to highlight its constant experimentalism; they demonstrate how difficult it is for us to know how seriously we should take anything Muldoon says, but alert us to the ways in which the playfulness and cleverness contribute to a profound ethical seriousness; they explore his complexly deconstructive technique to show how it represents a constant renewal of the self and of form; they show how the momentum for escape from the past is always contained within the recognition of the impossibility of escape; they examine the work as a means of both evasive self-protection from the world and self-expression of an intense emotional life; they calculate the ratios of scepticism and passion, unknowing and knowingness, which give the work its uniquely compelling power; they orientate the reader towards the Muldoonian home as always being located where it is not; they help us to see the way the writing folds back or feeds upon itself, and upon others’ writings, yet yearns for freedom and transcendence. They are confirmation of the validity of Heaney’s comment of nearly thirty years ago, when he said that Muldoon was the kind of writer who doesn’t offer us answers, but keep us alive in the middle of the question.
The contributors are (in order of the essays) Peter Denman, Richard York, Kathleen McCracken, Tim Kendall, Tim Hancock, Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, Stan Smith, Ivan Phillips, Clair Wills, Heather O’Donoghue, Guinn Batten, and Jerzy Jarniewicz. A number of these essays were originally delivered as lectures at the fifth Ulster Symposium at the University of Ulster at Coleraine in 2000. Also included is a transcript of the symposium interview that Neil Corcoran conducted with the poet.
Elmer Kennedy-Andrews is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Ulster at Coleraine. His books include The Poetry of Seamus Heaney: All the Realms of Whisper (1988); (editor) Seamus Heaney: A Collection of Critical Essays (1992); (editor) Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays (1992); The Art of Brian Friel: Neither Dreams nor Reality (1995); The Poetry of Seamus Heaney; Icon Critical Guides (1998), (editor) Irish Fiction Since 1960 (2004), Fiction and the Northern Ireland Troubles: (De-) Constructing the North (2003), and Writing Home: Poetry and Place in Northern Ireland 1968-2008 (2009).More info →