Paul Muldoon in Residence

Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney

Paul Muldoon (right) with mentor and friend Seamus Heaney in Dublin, June 2013. Photograph by Mihai Cucu.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, who The Times Literary Supplement named “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War,” visits Dickinson April 1-3 for a campus residency and series of public events as the recipient of The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program prize. 

Muldoon will accept the Stellfox prize and present a free public reading, followed by a book signing, on Wednesday, April 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) Auditorium, 360 West Louther Street. The public also is invited to a Q-and-A with Muldoon on Thursday, April 3, from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Stern Center, Great Room, on the Dickinson campus at 208 West Louther Street. 

Best known for his exuberant language and vivid, unexpected associations, Muldoon was appointed poetry editor of The New Yorker in 2007. He has taught poetry at Cambridge and Columbia universities; the University of California at Berkeley; the University of Massachusetts; and at his current post, Princeton University. From 1999 to 2004, he served as Oxford Professor of Poetry. He also is a bassist-songwriter who performs with a rock band, has collaborated with Warren Zevon and has written libretti for the operas Bandanna and Shining Brow and the play Six Honest Serving Men.

His collections of poetry include Moy Sand and Gravel, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize; New Weather, published while he was still an undergraduate at Queen’s University in Belfast; The Annals of Chile, which garnered the T.S. Eliot Award; New Selected Poems, which earned The Irish Times Literature Prize; and many others. In 1990, Muldoon was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He also has received the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry and the 2006 European Prize for Poetry. 

The Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program is endowed by a gift from Jean Louise Stellfox, a 1960 graduate of Dickinson who was inspired to become an English teacher after meeting Robert Frost during the poet’s visit to the college in 1959. When Stellfox died in 2003, her estate provided $1.5 million to the college to continue her mission of inspiring students by bringing renowned literary figures to campus. Stellfox named the program in honor of her parents, Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox.

Muldoon joins an illustrious group of previous Stellfox distinguished writers, including three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Edward Albee; Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa; Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Russo; Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Rita Dove; Tony Award-winning playwright David Henry Hwang; and Booker Prize-winning authors Ian McEwan and Margaret Atwood.

While at Queen’s University in the early 1970s, Muldoon crossed paths with legendary writer and Nobel laureate poet Seamus Heaney, marking the start of a fruitful mentorship and friendship between two of the best-loved English-language poets of our age. Heaney, a longtime friend of the college’s, died unexpectedly last September—just months before he was slated to return to Dickinson through The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program. Muldoon delivered the eulogy at his funeral. 

To honor Muldoon’s accomplishments as a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and to honor Heaney, the literary giant who nurtured Muldoon’s poetry, Dickinson will premiere new musical settings of poems by Muldoon and Heaney in concert on Tuesday, April 1, at 8 p.m. in the Rubendall Recital Hall, Weiss Center for the Arts, 240 West High Street. Composed by Associate Professor of Music Robert Pound, the settings will be performed by baritone Jonathan Hays, tenor William Ferguson and pianist Craig Ketter. The concert is free and open to the public. 

For more information about the lecture, contact Carol Ann Johnston, professor of English, at 717-245-1268. For information about the concert, contact Stacy Rohrer at 717-245-1568.

Published March 31, 2014