Biography (Critical Survey of Poetry: British, Irish, & Commonwealth Poets)
Paul Muldoon was born on June 20, 1951, in the remote rural community of The Fews, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Shortly afterward, his family moved to the no less remote area of The Moy, County Tyrone. The poet, therefore, comes from a background that is similar in many external respects to those of Northern Ireland poets such as Seamus Heaney and John Montague, who have done much to put that part of the world on the literary map. This point is relevant because Muldoon’s response to his background is very different from that of his illustrious near-contemporaries.
After secondary education at St. Patrick’s College, Armagh, Muldoon read English at Queen’s University, Belfast, and was graduated with a B.A. in 1971. Like many writers from Northern Ireland, particularly those of an older generation, he worked as a talks producer for the Northern Ireland regional service of the British Broadcasting Corporation in Belfast. He resigned this position in 1986 and began working as a visiting professor in a number of American universities. He has taught at Columbia University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Massachusetts, and in 1990, he began teaching at Princeton University. In 1993, he became director and founding chair of creative writing at Princeton’s Lewis Center for the Arts. In 1999, he was elected professor of poetry at Oxford, succeeding James Fenton in this five-year honorary appointment, and he continues at...
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Paul Muldoon was raised in a Catholic household in Protestant-dominated Northern Ireland in the townland of Collegelands near the village of Moy. His father, Patrick, was a laborer and a market gardener, and his mother, Brigid (neé Regan), was a schoolteacher. This is the “mixed marriage” that Muldoon discusses in an early poem of the same title. He attended grammar school at St. Patrick’s College in Armagh and there studied Gaelic language, literature, and song. At St. Patrick’s he also studied English literature. He began to write poetry in Irish but soon switched to English because of his better command of the language. Muldoon eventually sent poems to Seamus Heaney and Derek Mahon, two well-known Irish poets, and Heaney published a few in Thresholds.
Muldoon’s association with Heaney and other prominent Irish poets continued. His tutor at Queen’s University in Belfast, where he studied Celtic language and literature and Scholastic philosophy as well as English literature, was Heaney. Muldoon studied under Heaney and attended weekly poetry gatherings in Heaney’s home. The group included the Ulster poets Mahon and Michael Longley, the critic Michael Allen, and other young poets. It served as a critical forum, and Muldoon asserts it was quite beneficial. Indeed, these gatherings may have laid the foundation for a poet whose work has evolved from finding significance in the simple to being simple yet significant.
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Muldoon was born June 20, 1951 in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The son of Patrick Muldoon, a laborer and market gardener, and Brigid Regan, a schoolteacher, Muldoon grew up Catholic in the mostly Protestant town of Collegelands near a village called the Moy. As a young teenager, Muldoon studied the Gaelic language and Irish literature at St. Patrick’s College, where he also began writing poetry. He also studied literature and philosophy at Queen’s University in Belfast, where he met and worked with a number of prominent Irish writers who later became known as the Ulster Poets. This group of writers included Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, and Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, who became Muldoon’s tutor at the university and who encouraged Muldoon to write poetry.
In 1971, Muldoon published his first collection of poems, Knowing My Place. In 1973, he published New Weather, which was praised for its verbal virtuosity and which established Muldoon’s reputation as an innovative force in contemporary Irish poetry. Muldoon went on to publish other poetry collections including, Meeting the British (1987), The Annals of Chile (1994), Poems 1968–1998 (2001), and Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), in which “Pineapples and Pomegranates” appears. He has also edited several anthologies, including The Faber Book of Beasts (1997) and The Faber Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1986). Muldoon’s...
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