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Robert Crawford, 3 October 1996

The Poems of Ossian and Related Works 
by James Macpherson, edited by Howard Gaskill.
Edinburgh, 573 pp., £16.95, January 1996, 0 7486 0707 2
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... contemporary Scottish writers to the work of Caribbean poets, from one master of the fragmentary, Paul Muldoon, to another, Christopher Okigbo. Scholarship has buried Macpherson. From the 18th century to recent times the only question scholars have asked has been: ‘Are the Ossianic poems a fake?’ This is a boring question, and one easily ...

Belfast Diary

Edna Longley: In Belfast , 9 January 1992

... to make reader-reception – or the most effective propaganda? – our arbiter of war. Shades of Paul de Man, perhaps. It would, for instance, be both a pity and a lie if another Irish anthology. Troubled Times: ‘Fortnight’ Magazine and the Troubles in Northern Ireland I970-91,† had left out ‘what really happened’: its bleak ‘Chronology of Events ...

Tales of Hofmann

Blake Morrison, 20 November 1986

by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 79 pp., £8.95, October 1986, 0 571 14527 2
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by Stephen Romer.
Oxford, 48 pp., £3.95, September 1986, 0 19 281984 4
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by Alan Moore.
Anvil, 83 pp., £4.50, August 1986, 9780856461613
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New Chatto Poets 
edited by Andrew Motion.
Chatto, 79 pp., £4.95, September 1986, 0 7011 3080 6
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A.D. Hope: Selected Poems 
edited by Ruth Morse.
Carcanet, 139 pp., £3.95, April 1986, 0 85635 640 9
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The Electrification of the Soviet Union 
by Craig Raine.
Faber, 69 pp., £8.95, August 1986, 0 571 14539 6
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... Hofmann’s book comes in the footsteps of Tony Harrison’s Continuous, Craig Raine’s Rich, Paul Muldoon’s Quoof and Hugo Williams’s Letters Home, all of which voyage round the paterfamilias: that tradition is much more pious and affectionate. The Williams offers the closest comparison: it too is about an overbearing writer-father and adopts a ...

Beddoes’ Best Thing

C.H. Sisson, 20 September 1984

The Force of Poetry 
by Christopher Ricks.
Oxford, 447 pp., £19.50, September 1984, 0 19 811722 1
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... Marvell and the ‘gifted group of Ulster poets: Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, and Paul Muldoon’ – poets surely very unlike the Member of Parliament for Hull. He asserts that ‘many of these are creatively grateful to Marvell,’ and then suggests, even more extravagantly, that ‘it is likely that there is at least some relevance in ...


Edna Longley: Ireland by Others, 17 September 1987

... as a complacent insider that I reflect on the difficulty of telling it how it is, best phrased by Paul Muldoon in ‘Lunch with Pancho Villa’: For there’s no such book, so far as I know, As How it Happened Here, Though there may be. There may. ‘Pancho Villa’ symbolises the phenomenon of ‘the revolutionary tourist’, mentioned by Sally ...

Fading Out

John Redmond, 2 November 1995

The Ghost Orchid 
by Michael Longley.
Cape, 66 pp., £7, May 1995, 0 224 04112 6
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... etc – could well be applied to poets. If Paul Muldoon is a ‘qu’ – ‘quicksilver’, ‘quirky’, ‘exquisite’, with some of his favourite words being ‘quibble’, ‘quidditas’ and his own neologism. ‘quoof’ – then Longley would be a ...

Davie’s Rap

Neil Corcoran, 25 January 1990

Under Briggflatts: A History of Poetry in Great Britain 1960-1988 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 261 pp., £18.95, October 1989, 0 85635 820 7
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by Charles Tomlinson.
Oxford, 55 pp., £5.95, November 1989, 0 19 282680 8
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Possible Worlds 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 68 pp., £6.95, September 1989, 0 19 282660 3
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The boys who stole the funeral: A Novel Sequence 
by Les Murray.
Carcanet, 71 pp., £6.95, October 1989, 0 85635 845 2
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... diagrammatic binarism. One need only compare the genuine speed and unreeling vertiginousness of Paul Muldoon’s sort-of-sonnet sequence ‘The more a man has the more a man wants’ to realise how lacking Murray is in poetic, as opposed to narrative momentum. In Muldoon, the plot seems an invention in which he might ...

Green War

Patricia Craig, 19 February 1987

Poetry in the Wars 
by Edna Longley.
Bloodaxe, 264 pp., £12.95, November 1986, 0 906427 74 6
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We Irish: The Selected Essays of Denis Donoghue 
Harvester, 275 pp., £25, November 1986, 0 7108 1011 3Show More
The Battle of The Books 
by W.J. McCormack.
Lilliput, 94 pp., £3.95, October 1986, 0 946640 13 0
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The Twilight of Ascendancy 
by Mark Bence-Jones.
Constable, 327 pp., £14.95, January 1987, 0 09 465490 5
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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Girl 
edited by John Quinn.
Methuen, 144 pp., £8.95, November 1986, 0 413 14350 3
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... subtlety of Derek Mahon; and singularly illuminating when she turns her attention to the work of Paul Muldoon: the long Muldoon poems ‘Immram’ and ‘The more a man has’, in particular, come in for impressive elucidation. Throughout this collection of essays, in spite of a quota of things to carp at, like the ...

Tropical Storms

Blake Morrison, 6 September 1984

Poems of Science 
edited by John Heath-Stubbs and Phillips Salman.
Penguin, 328 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 0 14 042317 6
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The Kingfisher 
by Amy Clampitt.
Faber, 92 pp., £4, April 1984, 0 571 13269 3
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The Ice Factory 
by Philip Gross.
Faber, 62 pp., £3.95, June 1984, 0 571 13217 0
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Venus and the Rain 
by Medbh McGuckian.
Oxford, 57 pp., £4.50, June 1984, 0 19 211962 1
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Saying hello at the station 
by Selima Hill.
Chatto, 48 pp., £2.95, June 1984, 0 7011 2788 0
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Dreaming Frankenstein and Collected Poems 
by Liz Lochhead.
Polygon, 159 pp., £2.95, May 1984, 0 904919 80 3
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News for Babylon: The Chatto Book of West Indian-British Poetry 
edited by James Berry.
Chatto, 212 pp., £4.95, June 1984, 9780701127978
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Human Rites: Selected Poems 1970-1982 
by E.A. Markham.
Anvil, 127 pp., £7.95, May 1984, 0 85646 112 1
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by Derek Walcott.
Faber, 79 pp., £3.95, July 1984, 0 571 13180 8
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... We are used to hard words from Belfast and the impingement (even in so wry and oblique a talent as Paul Muldoon) of uncomfortable sectarian truths. But McGuckian is like Denton Welch, whose war-diaries make no mention of the war: we can only just make out this century, let alone her own particular time and place. In a recent ...

At the Opium Factory

David Simpson: Amitav Ghosh, 22 October 2009

Sea of Poppies 
by Amitav Ghosh.
Murray, 544 pp., £7.99, April 2009, 978 0 7195 6897 8
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... to follow the story, rather as one gropes for a dictionary to work through a poem by Paul Muldoon? As with Muldoon, the answer is yes and no: we should, and we often don’t. All reading – though poetry less so – allows for a high level of semantic redundancy: we can get the gist of a plot without ...

Must poets write?

Stephanie Burt: Poetry Post-Language, 10 May 2012

Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 232 pp., £11.50, April 2012, 978 0 226 66061 5
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Uncreative Writing: Managing Language in the Digital Age 
by Kenneth Goldsmith.
Columbia, 272 pp., £15.95, September 2011, 978 0 231 14991 4
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Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing 
edited by Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith.
Northwestern, 593 pp., £40.50, December 2010, 978 0 8101 2711 1
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Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004, The Joy of Cooking: [Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape] 
by Tan Lin.
Wesleyan, 224 pp., £20.50, May 2010, 978 0 8195 6929 5
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... find tricky quotation, numerical patterns, foreign languages and ‘verbivocovisual’ effects in Paul Muldoon, or in John Hollander, the Yale-based poet and critic who stands about as far as any serious writer in America from neo-modernist or avant-garde programmes. Hollander’s Powers of Thirteen (1983) consists of 169 sonnet-like units with 13 lines ...

Writing the Night

Hugh Haughton, 25 January 1996

Selected Poems 
by David Gascoyne.
Enitharmon, 253 pp., £8.95, November 1994, 1 870612 34 5
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... hysteria blots out the folded hemlocks.’ It was decades later that poets such as John Ashbery or Paul Muldoon helped Anglophone poetry to a convincing use of Surrealist licence for its own ways and meanings. In any case, at the end of the Thirties Gascoyne himself had effectively abandoned Surrealism, and with it ‘The Rites of Hysteria’ and ‘The ...


Blake Morrison, 21 February 1991

The Chatto Book of Love Poetry 
edited by John Fuller.
Chatto, 374 pp., £13.99, August 1990, 0 7011 3453 4
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The Faber Book of Blue Verse 
edited by John Whitworth.
Faber, 305 pp., £14.99, October 1990, 0 571 14095 5
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Self-Portrait with a Slide 
by Hugo Williams.
Oxford, 62 pp., £5.95, June 1990, 0 19 282744 8
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The Virago Book of Love Poetry 
edited by Wendy Mulford.
Virago, 288 pp., £6.99, November 1990, 1 85381 030 4
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Erotica: An Anthology of Women’s Writing 
edited by Margaret Reynolds, foreword by Jeanette Winterson .
Pandora, 362 pp., £19.99, November 1990, 9780044406723
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Daddy, Daddy 
by Paul Durcan.
Blackstaff, 185 pp., £5.95, August 1990, 0 85640 446 2
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... works written by men. Not that poems about parents, for instance, can’t also be love poems, as Paul Durcan’s Daddy, Daddy shows. Faced with the problem that so many poets of recent years have written movingly about their fathers – Tony Harrison, Craig Raine, Hugo Williams, Paul Muldoon, Michael Hofmann ...

A Suspect in the Eyes of Super-Patriots

Charles Simic: Vasko Popa, 18 March 1999

Collected Poems of Vasko Popa 
translated by Anne Pennington.
Anvil, 464 pp., £12.95, January 1998, 0 85646 268 3
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... than Pennington can offer and he was capable of a verbal dazzle that makes him sound at times like Paul Muldoon. Pennington’s language is far more formal. Francis Jones, who expanded and revised the Collected Poems, is aware of the problem. Popa’s ‘words and images are multi-layered’, Jones says, ‘combining concrete representations with ...

A Bit Like Gulliver

Stephanie Burt: Seamus Heaney’s Seamus Heaney, 11 June 2009

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney 
by Dennis O’Driscoll.
Faber, 524 pp., £22.50, November 2008, 978 0 571 24252 8
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The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney 
edited by Bernard O’Donoghue.
Cambridge, 239 pp., £45, December 2008, 978 0 521 54755 0
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... especially outside Ireland, may wonder at the gap in sensibility between Heaney (born in 1939) and Paul Muldoon (born in 1951), but to read about Heaney’s first years, his ‘nineteen-fifties/Of iron stoves and kin groups still in place’, is to see that the two poets do come from different generations: ‘I was well and truly formed,’ Heaney ...

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