From Publishers Weekly
Muldoon is undisputedly a master poet. Many of his poems distinctly take up the poetic tradition yet skew it with half-rhymes and unlikely subjects for classical forms, and also engage deeply with the troubled politics of his native Northern Ireland yet intertwine them with Muldoon's own personal history, mythology and esoteric symbolism. If these poems are reluctant to offer themselves to easy interpretation, they nonetheless seduce the reader into repeated readings in which they only grow more interesting, a sure sign of their capacity to last. In his 11th collection, the Pulitzer Prize–winner and former professor of poetry at Oxford (his Oxford lectures are being released concurrently) is as good as ever. Amid the usual parade of poetic forms (a riddle, haiku and pantoum, among others), he treats post-9/11 America ("those were my
Twin Towers, right?"); aging, fatherhood and mortality ("a country toward which I've been rowing/ for fifty years"); the notion of "the old country" in a tour-de-force crown of sonnets ("Every escape was a narrow escape/ where every stroke was a broad stroke/ of an ax on a pig nape./ Every pig was a pig in a poke"); and the deaths of his sister and rocker Warren Zevon. With signature wit, Muldoon is preoccupied with the passage of time, the ways things change and stay the same, the distance between one culture and another, as well as the narrowing gap between high and popular culture. (Oct.)
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"Paul Muldoon is a shape-shifting Proteus to readers who try to pin him down . . . Those who interrogate Muldoon's poems find themselves changing shapes each time he does. . .authentically touched or delighted." -Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review
"Without question one of the most inventive poets writing in English today." -Andrew Frisardi, The Boston Sunday Globe
Praise for Moy Sand and Gravel, winner of the Pulitzer Prize:
"Moy Sand and Gravel, Muldoon's ninth book of poems in twenty years, shimmers with play, the play of mind, the play of recondite information over ordinary experiences, the play of observation and sensuous detail, of motion upon custom, of Irish and English languages and landscapes, of meter and rhyme." -Peter Davison, The New York Times Book Review
"[Moy Sand and Gravel] demonstrate[s] why [Muldoon] is regarded by many as the most sophisticated and original poet of his generation . . . dazzling." -Mark Ford, The New York Review of Books
"Certainly one of the most beguiling and delightful of writers." -The Economist
"A glittering vindication of complexity." -Brian Dillon, Time Out
"Fanciful, brief, strong and sprung by twinkle-eyed winks at the readers' intelligence, these poems will certainly stand the test of time, and of many readings." -John Freeman, The Seattle Times
"Paul Muldoon is the most original Irish poet of his generation . . . Muldoon's voice, with its taste for meaty unpronounceables and querulous urgencies, it like no other in contemporary poetry. While it distinguishes him from his acknowledged mentor Seamus Heaney and other brilliant Irish rhetoricians, it also establishes an honored place among them." -William Doreski, Harvard Review