Students and members of the town gathered at Labyrinth Books to attend a poetry reading with Pulitzer Prize-winning author Paul Muldoon on Tuesday.
Described by The Times Literary as "the most significant English-language poet born since the second World War,” Muldoon is an Irish author of 12 books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning “Moy Sand and Gravel.” He is the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 University Professor in the Humanities at Princeton.
“Paul Muldoon is my favorite living poet,” fellow poet and University professor Michael Dickman said, as he introduced his colleague to the audience.
Dickman noted that he first heard Muldoon’s voice through a cassette tape in which living authors read the work of non-living authors. Dickman said he felt Muldoon’s voice had an intriguing mysterious quality to it.
As soon as Muldoon stepped up to the podium after Dickman’s introduction, he leaned close to the microphone, slowly reading one of his poems with dramatic effect.
After this small excerpt, Muldoon greeted and thanked the audience for attending his reading and spoke a bit about his family.
“My mother was a school teacher, so myself, my brother and my sister went to school,” Muldoon said, drawing a laugh from the crowd.
He proceeded to read several of his works from “Selected Poems 1968-2014,” which contains 46 years of work drawn from 12 of his individual collections.
“You can sing along if you wish,” he said before reading a poem about a “wall of plaster stiffened with horse hair.”
As he read the poem, he paused every once so often to let members of the audience finish a line with the last word.
Muldoon then introduced another of his poems titled “At Least They Weren’t Speaking French,” which is drawn from a personal collection of his father’s two brothers. He said one of them died as a baby due to hypothermia while the other died in his twenties due to a lack of effective antibiotics.
To transition to “something a little more light-hearted,” Muldoon proceeded to read another poem that drew frequent laughter from the audience.
“Let me read a few more,” Muldoon said after he finished. “What do you say?”
“Read the whole book!” one audience member said amidst cheering from the audience.
After the conclusion of the poetry reading, over a dozen people lined up to personally greet Muldoon and get their books signed by the author.
Another poetry event will take place at Labyrinth Books on April 26 featuring writer and professor of English at William Paterson University Brad Gooch in conversation with Muldoon.