Critical Overview

(Poetry for Students)

The collection in which “Pineapples and Pomegranates” appears, Moy Sand and Gravel (2002), has received considerable critical acclaim as one of Muldoon’s finest books of poetry. The book won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize in poetry, as well as the 2003 Griffin International Prize for excellence in poetry.

Critics have praised Muldoon’s remarkably adept use of rhyme and other verbal techniques, his wit, and his unique engagement with personal and historical themes. A critic reviewing Moy Sand and Gravel for Publisher’s Weekly notes, “This first full volume since Muldoon’s monumental Poems 1968–1998 reveals one of the English-speaking world’s most acclaimed poets still at the top of his slippery, virtuosic game.”

Although Muldoon has sometimes been criticized for merely being clever, most critics have delighted in his inventive use of form and word play to address serious topics, such as the Troubles in Northern Ireland, in fresh and unsentimental ways. In her Moy Sand and Gravel review in Library Journal, Rochelle Ratner writes, “Munificence is juxtaposed with munitions [in “Pineapples and Pomegranates”], while aunts is rhymed with taunts and fuss with orthodox [in other poems in the collection], almost daring readers to roll and twist the words in their mouths.”

(The entire section is 199 words.)