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The End of the Poem

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Paul Muldoon is the author of nine books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning Moy Sand and Gravel (FSG, 2002). He teaches at Princeton University and, between 1999 and 2004, was professor of poetry at Oxford University.


In his most substantial prose collection to date, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Muldoon (Moy Sand and Gravel) offers 15 characteristically idiosyncratic lectures on individual poems by a host of influential world poets, delivered at Oxford University from 1999 to 2004. Rather than explication and clarification, Muldoon favors association and surprise, as he does in his poems. In discussions of often lesser-known poems by major figures, beginning with W.B. Yeats and moving through Emily Dickinson, Ted Hughes, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Fernando Pessoa and Irish-born Muldoon's own mentor, Seamus Heaney, Muldoon focuses on the recurrence and etymology of particular words as they relate to other poems and poets, quoting the OED almost as often as poetry. He also locates the poems' origins in other unlikely texts, such as a little-known 1851 Harper's article, which Muldoon claims influenced Dickinson. While some of Muldoon's conjectures may seem far-fetched, they are always highly compelling and clever, and this book provides an expansive view of the mind of a major poet, and a fresh, if unorthodox, method for reading literary texts. This volume is released concurrently with Horse Latitudes, a new collection of poems (Reviews, July 31). (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Muldoon (Princeton Univ.) here presents 15 lectures he gave at Oxford University over a five-year period, "much as they were given." The work is organized into 15 chapters, each focusing on a specific poem. The poem opens the chapter and is followed by a very close reading not only of its rhyme and imagery but also of the poet's historical and biographical context and influences. Muldoon does not discuss why he selected these poems except to relate them all to the title he gave his lectures, which varies in meaning. In one instance, he uses the date at the end of the poem to open his discussion. In another, he uses it as a way of connecting "the poem and the biography of its author." The scholarship is excellent, which makes this work an essential purchase for academic collections; more important, it is interesting and easily accessible as well. Paolina Taglienti, Las Vegas Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Without question one of the most inventive poets writing in English today." --Andrew Frisardi, The Boston Sunday Globe"[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"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

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