Paul Muldoon – Lancaster University 6th May

Close-up portrait of Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet, educator, and musician Paul Muldoon, Princeton, New Jersey, 2009. (Photo by Oliver Morris/Getty Images)

First in a rush of posts – a late review of a brilliant event.

I booked early for this and was glad I did – a free reading by Paul Muldoon was always going to have a high take-up rate and the Nuffield Theatre at Lancaster Uni was nearly full. I managed to catch up with people I knew from uni, both tutors and students – although unfortunately I also spent a great deal of time face first in my phone (trying and failing to get a signal to text for a lift home) whilst everyone else was face-first in the lovely buffet. I sat next to a lovely couple and their friend who’d already seen him do a reading at Grasmere recently. The wife gave me good PhD advice and the husband – a long-time Muldoon fan – was quick to assure me that Muldoon was an engaging speaker and I would enjoy the reading. He was, of course, right.

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a poetry reading – I’ve kept having near misses with events that I really wanted to go to – so it was something of a relief to be back amongst people who love the genre just as much as I do. The introductions were entertaining – a good sign for any reading – and once the man himself came on things rolled along nicely. He read a wide variety of poems – each with its own anecdote – demonstrating clearly the incredibly broad span of subject matter and form he has mastered. He managed to keep us all thoroughly entertained for about an hour: no easy task at a poetry reading. He has a curious way of reading, both lighthearted where appropriate and cripplingly sad in other places whilst always maintaining an awareness of the weight and wonder of language. I have, of course, read Muldoon before. It’s almost impossible to get through any level of education in Poetry and not stumble across him. But his poetry has a style that really does benefit from being read aloud.

All in all it was a grand start to Paul Muldoon’s association with the university and I’ll definitely be booking early again the next time he comes to do a reading! The evening piqued my interest in his work again and I raided the Harris’ magnificent poetry section for his earlier collections, so they’ve been added on my ever mountainous to-read pile.

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