MARBL Spring 2014 : Page 7

Paul Muldoon’s “Cubist” Complexity By Aaron Goldsman graduate student, Department of English ©Matt Valentine Compiling and cataloguing a writer’s archive is often an exercise in portrai-ture: with each piece of archival material added, a picture of the writer comes more clearly into focus. In acclaimed Irish poet Paul Muldoon’s case, the intricate portrait offered by his incredibly rich and diverse archive at MARBL may be most accurately characterized as a cubist one. First settled at Emory in 1996, Muldoon’s papers reveal a life and career of impressive variety. Alongside Muldoon the poet—thoroughly represented by a host of poem drafts, original typescripts, and rare publications—a range of other facets of the Muldoon persona complete the picture captured by the archive. Among others, one can find Muldoon the dramatist, highlighted in a collection of scripts written for broad-cast on BBC television and radio; Muldoon the libret-tist, appearing in his correspondence with composer Daron Hagen documenting their work together on operas including Shining Brow , Bandanna , and Vera of Los Vegas ; Muldoon the rock lyricist, on display in the record of his songwriting collaborations with Rob Mathes for their band, Rackett; and Muldoon the pro-lific correspondent, with letters from fellow Irish poets Ciaran Carson, Peter Fallon, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, and Derek Mahon, as well as an array of other prominent authors, artists, and actors—from Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates to Liam Neeson and Leonard Cohen. The complex figure cut by Muldoon’s archive is in good company at MARBL, which is home to an exten-sive collection of Irish literary materials. To this end, Muldoon’s papers provide an invaluable window into the world of Irish poetry in the second half of the 20th century and beyond. A compel-ling example is the typescript drafts of Muldoon poems prepared for meetings of the Belfast Group, a weekly workshop of Irish poets that met on and off from 1963 to 1972. At the workshop, Muldoon shared some of his earliest work with Heaney, Carson, Longley, and others. The circulated drafts of these workshop poems, called “Group sheets,” provide crucial insight into the process of poetic composition, as well as a sense of the collaborative spirit behind the work of some of the leading voices of contemporary Irish poetry. For more information on the Belfast Group collection at MARBL and some of the fascinating scholarship under way on these materials, see Rebecca Sutton Koeser’s article on page 8. In a letter to Muldoon collected in the archive, Seamus Heaney responds to some early drafts sent by the younger poet with the following words of encouragement: “I like these poems very much and I think you don’t need anyone to tell you ‘where you’re going wrong.’ I think you’re a poet and will go where you decide.” As the exceptionally diverse career represented in his papers demonstrates, Muldoon took this advice to heart and has been pursuing his own unique course ever since. As the caretakers of the record of his achievement, we at MARBL are proud to be a part of that journey. Paul Muldoon is the winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, among many others. He is currently the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, as well as the poetry editor of the New Yorker maga-zine. He will give a reading of his work at Emory on February 22, 2014. page 7 spring 2014 MARBL A handwritten draft of the poem “Emblem” [top left]; a handwritten draft of the poem “Mushroom House” in vivid fuchsia ink [top right]; and a handwritten note on a napkin. Paul Muldoon papers, MARBL.

Paul Muldoon’s “Cubist” Complexity

Aaron Goldsman

COMPILING AND CATALOGUING A WRITER’S ARCHIVE IS OFTEN AN EXERCISE IN PORTRAITURE: WITH EACH PIECE OF ARCHIVAL MATERIAL ADDED, A PICTURE OF THE WRITER COMES MORE CLEARLY INTO FOCUS. In acclaimed Irish poet Paul Muldoon’s case, the intricate portrait offered by his incredibly rich and diverse archive at MARBL may be most accurately characterized as a cubist one.

First settled at Emory in 1996, Muldoon’s papers reveal a life and career of impressive variety.Alongside Muldoon the poet—thoroughly represented by a host of poem drafts, original typescripts, and rare publications—a range of other facets of the Muldoon persona complete the picture captured by the archive. Among others, one can find Muldoon the dramatist, highlighted in a collection of scripts written for broadcast on BBC television and radio; Muldoon the librettist, appearing in his correspondence with composer Daron Hagen documenting their work together on operas including Shining Brow, Bandanna, and Vera of Los Vegas; Muldoon the rock lyricist, on display in the record of his songwriting collaborations with Rob Mathes for their band, Rackett; and Muldoon the prolific correspondent, with letters from fellow Irish poets Ciaran Carson, Peter Fallon, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, and Derek Mahon, as well as an array of other prominent authors, artists, and actors—from Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates to Liam Neeson and Leonard Cohen.

The complex figure cut by Muldoon’s archive is in good company at MARBL, which is home to an extensive collection of Irish literary materials. To this end, Muldoon’s papers provide an invaluable window into the world of Irish poetry in the second half of the 20th century and beyond. A compelling example is the typescript drafts of Muldoon poems prepared for meetings of the Belfast Group, a weekly workshop of Irish poets that met on and off from 1963 to 1972. At the workshop, Muldoon shared some of his earliest work with Heaney, Carson, Longley, and others. The circulated drafts of these workshop poems, called “Group sheets,” provide crucial insight into the process of poetic composition, as well as a sense of the collaborative spirit behind the work of some of the leading voices of contemporary Irish poetry. For more information on the Belfast Group collection at MARBL and some of the fascinating scholarship under way on these materials, see Rebecca Sutton Koeser’s article on page 8.

In a letter to Muldoon collected in the archive, Seamus Heaney responds to some early drafts sent by the younger poet with the following words of encouragement: “I like these poems very much and I think you don’t need anyone to tell you ‘where you’re going wrong.’ I think you’re a poet and will go where you decide.” As the exceptionally diverse career represented in his papers demonstrates, Muldoon took this advice to heart and has been pursuing his own unique course ever since. As the caretakers of the record of his achievement, we at MARBL are proud to be a part of that journey.

Paul Muldoon is the winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry, among many others. He is currently the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton University, as well as the poetry editor of the New Yorker magazine. He will give a reading of his work at Emory on February 22, 2014.

Read the full article at http://www.editionduo.com/article/Paul+Muldoon%E2%80%99s+%E2%80%9CCubist%E2%80%9D+Complexity/1673477/203191/article.html.

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