Listen to Paul Muldoon discuss his life in poetry & One Thousand Things Worth Knowing with Rick O'Shea on RTE Radio 1, The Poetry Programme.
"The informational content of Muldoon's 12th collection (after The Word on the Street: Rock Lyrics) may well approach the claim of its title. We learn, for example, that 'some early fragmentation bombs were the calcified brains of Celtic warriors' and that 'The best baseball bats are turned from hibiscus.' ... read more.- Fred Muratori, Library Journal
"One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems is another wild, expansive collection from the eternally surprising Paul Muldoon, 2003 winner and poetry editor at the New Yorker. 'Watchfulness' is the buzzword surrounding this one, and it seems as great a place as any to start the 2015 reading year." - Publishers Weekly
"In 2003, Irish poet Paul Muldoon won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Moy Sand and Gravel. Moy? It means gentle or mild. Muldoon's poetry is replete with words many readers will not know. It's part of his style. The 35 poems in his 12th collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, add to the growing list: lapstrake, groop, refulgent, plenilunar, comal, byre.... read more.- Tom Lavoie, Former Publisher
Paul Muldoon's first poetry collection, New Weather, was published in 1973, when he was just 20. At the time, Seamus Heaney, already famous after Death of a Naturalist (1966), taught Muldoon at Queen's University Belfast, and called him "the most promising poet to appear in Ireland for years''.
In the intervening decades, as Muldoon became one of the world's most revered post-war poets, Heaney remained his guide and champion. Muldoon's 12th collection, his first since Heaney's death in 2013, opens with "Cuthbert and the Otters", a long, pain-flecked and glitteringly varied elegy to his mentor.... read more.- Charlotte Runcie, The Telegraph
Even if you work for a small, essentially well-meaning weekly, you don't have to wear a Je Suis Charlie pin to connect with the fellow journalists who died in last week's terrorist attack in Paris. Whatever the content, circulation, or point of view, the staff of a regularly published magazine or newspaper consists of editors, writers, designers, compositors, advertising and business staff, working together for a common cause, in our case, to ensure that Town Topics makes an appearance every Wednesday, which, as it happens, coincided with the day of the January 7 massacre.
As the story unfolded, I was already well into a column about Paul Muldoon's new collection One Thousand Things Worth Knowing (Farrar Straus & Giroux $24), and my point of view was strictly apolitical. It was the music, wit, scope, playfulness, and sometimes challenging allusiveness of the poetry that engaged and intrigued me. I was glad to feel no obligation to contend with the moral and political complexities of a terrorist atrocity. My original focus was on the contrast between Muldoon's sheer shoot-from-the-hip inventiveness and the nightly bloodbaths of cable television my wife and I have been watching for the past months, up to our vicarious necks in Homeland (a jihadist massacre at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad) and The Americans (Cold War sex, married KGB spies living a double life of family values, and cut-throat espionage). In fact it was BBC America's Orphan Black and its delirious pleasure in its own improbabilities (sex, urban violence, and kinky domesticity involving embattled clones in Toronto) that helped get me into the mood for Muldoon's new work. I was playing around with the show's impact on our mutual suspension of disbelief and how that related to what used to be quaintly termed "poetic license," as in the free flow of fancy and other serious, sometimes strenuous fun and games going forward in Muldoon's aptly titled volume, which was formally published yesterday, January 13.... read more.- Stuart Mitchner, Town Topics
For 40 years Paul Muldoon's rococo artfulness has been a standing rebuke to poetry's more mundane and literal tendencies. Obsessively formalist, Muldoon's linguistically omnivorous poems have, since The Annals of Chile (1994), used elaborate rhyme schemes to take on difficult material. ... read more.- John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
Sombre lines of beauty from a supreme trickster.
Paul Muldoon's new collection is a stylish volume. Its elegant layout echoes almost subliminally what we have come to expect from this master of the trickster elements within language. But the cover illustration, a painting of a Border Post in Northern Ireland, tells us that something both sombre and actual is going on. ... read more.- Fiona Sampson, The Independent
An intricate tour de force.
"I'm at once full of dread / and in complete denial," writes Muldoon in the opening poem to this, his 12th collection. "I cannot thole the thought of Seamus Heaney dead." The lines are dropped like a stone into the 27-stanza "Cuthbert and the Otters" a poem commissioned for the Durham book festival in 2013, and read there only a matter of weeks after Heaney's funeral, where Muldoon was both eulogist and pall-bearer. "Thole": to bear, to suffer. It's a dialect word familiar from both poets' childhoods, and the word (tholian) which gives Heaney "a little passport", as he termed it, from Co Derry to the Anglo-Saxon world of Beowulf. "Cuthbert and the Otters" weaves together multiple histories: Vikings and Celts jostle for space with "the 82nd Airborne" and "Montgomery of Alamein"; the "coalfields of South Shields" with south Derry. The story of "Cuthbert of Lindisfarne / whose body will be carried aloft by monks fleeing those same Danes" finds its parallel with the cortege winding its way from Dublin to Bellaghy. The north-east of England is saturated with the language of Heaney's north of Ireland soul-landscape: blackberries, cattle, the "peat stain", the Viking traces. Muldoon closes with "Refulgent all. From fulgere, 'to flash'" – evocative of Heaney's own sensuous language, and the "lightning" strike of inspiration affirmed in the elder poet's early essay "Feeling into Words". ... read more.- Fran Brearton, The Guardian
Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon's poetry is a "world-book" in itself - earthy and erudite, its meanings allusive and elusive. Muldoon isn't going to give you crystal-clear insights tied up with a bow or spoonfeed you easy homilies or epiphanies. You'll have to sink your teeth into these poems and do some chewing. But what a reward you'll get in return! ... read more.- Rebecca Oppenheimer, The Ivy Bookshop
Some of the best poems Muldoon has written in years.- David Wheatley, The Literary Review
A professor at Princeton, poetry editor at the New Yorker, rock musician – of which more later – and the subject of extensive critical attention, the Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon is at the summit of a career which began in spectacular fashion with the publication of New Weather in 1973, when the poet was just twenty-one. One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, his twelfth collection, represents a consolidation rather than an extension of the elaborate and highly distinctive poetic voice he has established in the intervening four decades. His characteristic verbal hi-jinks – endless rhymes, concealed or oblique linkages and parallelisms, abrupt shifts of register, serpentine syntax, an urge to pun that borders on the pathological – provide further evidence of the poet's astounding technical gifts, but they are so familiar by now to Muldoon enthusiasts that the surprise they engender has itself become an oddly predictable part of the reading experience. There is monotony in incessant variety, a dulling of the senses from over-abundance, and Muldoon's often very lush and complex poems can induce a strange kind of complacency regarding detail, itself interesting inasmuch as it is hard to gauge the extent to which the effect is intended. Muldoon remains most obviously compelling when a sudden candour ventilates the labyrinthine back channels of his poems, when artfulness and artlessness are intertwined. ... read more.- Oli Hazzard, The Times Literary Supplement
Speaking to the Paris Review ten years ago, Paul Muldoon remarked “we're all, as we age, getting duller and duller in most instances... you need to have all your wits about you, and you're losing them all the time. The more you've done in a particular vein, the less there is to do.” ... read more.- James Marriott, The Literateur
The most accomplished poetry collection I read this year is Paul Muldoon’s One Thousand Things Worth Knowing.- James Shapiro, Books of the Year, The Irish Times