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Intro to Paul Muldoon with Bill Nevins March 7
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An Introduction to the Poetry of Paul Muldoon

(who will be visiting New Mexico in late March)

with instructor Bill Nevins - joined by John Roche

at Jules’ Poetry Playhouse, Placitas


March 7, 2020

11 am – 2 pm


(one scholarship available)

Erudite and sometimes inscrutable, Paul Muldoon is also often accessible and charming. Join instructor Bill Nevins in this day retreat to explore the poetry of Irish poet Paul Muldoon.


Bill says, “Even at his most difficult, Paul Muldoon's work always is fun to read, even though, like playing chess or Irish football, that fun may demand concentration and involve a certain degree of growing pain for the reader. He uses traditional verse forms such as the sonnet, ballad, and dramatic monologue, but alters their length and basic structure, and uses rhyme and meter in innovative ways. I hope it inspires participants to delve deeper. Reading Paul Muldoon is an acquired taste, but one that tends towards fascination, if not outright addiction. I myself confess to having become a hardcore fan."

“Irish wit, like the dry humor of Native Americans and other oppressed peoples, is a survival tool, the keen blade which slices through the suffocating fog of horror, grief, displacement which otherwise might choke the spirit. Wielded by Ireland’s greatest writers, that wit has a bittersweet double-edge to it, slicing the pretensions of fools and outsiders but often cutting deep into the vulnerable beings of the authors themselves.  A profound, even deadly, seriousness, is to be found at the raw core of such a polished, witty surface. Like his Irish predecessor-peers Mangan, Yeats, Wilde, Joyce and Heaney—and not unlike his Irish female peers Medbh McGuckian, Caitríona O’Reilly and Annemarie Ní Churreáin or his Native American contemporary Sherman Alexie—Paul Muldoon dazzles readers with witty word play and imaginative vision but also yields up a core of self-revelation, even sometimes of pained self-doubt, to those readers willing to devote time and attention to his most challenging writings.”

Pultzer-prize winning poet PAUL MULDOON is among our most intriguing English language poets, yet his best work is rooted in a distinctly Irish (Gaelic) sensibility. Born in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland in 1951. His father was a farmer, his mother a school teacher. Muldoon has successfully wended his way through academic and media circles—the BBC, the poetry desk at The New Yorker magazine, monthly live Muldoon’s Picnic shows in NY City, song-writing collaborations with rock star Warren Zevon  and Muldoon’s own rock bands  Rackett and Rogue Oliphant, faculty and administrative positions at Princeton University and guest lectureships at Oxford and many other universities, including an upcoming residency at University of New Mexico Irish Studies in late March 2020.  An immigrant and now a US citizen, Paul Muldoon lives with his novelist wife Jean Hanff Korelitz and their two children near Princeton, NJ. He is the author of a number of poetry collections, is widely anthologized, and he has won the Pulitzer Prize and the Griffin Poetry Prize. He has also published collections of criticism, children’s books, opera libretti, rock song lyrics, and works for radio and television. He has performed on stage with Van Morrison, U2, Horslips, PJ Harvey and other music stars. Like his mentor the late Seamus Heaney, Muldoon is an exquisitely- conscious non-combatant survivor of the long civil war/national rebellion euphemistically known as the Irish Troubles.


Why Brownlee Left


Why Brownlee left, and where he went,

Is a mystery even now.

For if a man should have been content

It was him; two acres of barley,

One of potatoes, four bullocks,

A milker, a slated farmhouse.

He was last seen going out to plough

On a March morning, bright and early.


By noon Brownlee was famous;

They had found all abandoned, with

The last rig unbroken, his pair of black

Horses, like man and wife,

Shifting their weight from foot to

Foot, and gazing into the future.

Required reading: Selected Poems 1968-2104, Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Reprint edition, 2017 (Available in paperback or for Kindle)
available from Bookworks, Albuquerque. or online booksellers.  I recommend that participants in this workshop pick up a copy as soon as possible and begin to sample Muldoon’s poems at random. They reward repeated readings and are worthy to be savored over time. 

(Selections of Paul Muldoon’s poems are also easily found online at no cost.)

Recommended but NOT required:
Frolic and Detour (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019), his latest collection.


There are also quite a few Muldoon videos on YouTube. There will be a copy in class of the CD Paul Muldoon Reads His Own Poems (not available on Amazon). There is nothing like hearing a poet read his own poems, and Muldoon is an excellent reader. 

I also recommend that you devote an hour to watching Muldoon’s recent stage-discussion with rock-star poet P.J. Harvey. This video reveals much about both artists, and about the role of poetry in our contemporary world. https://vimeo.com/234850739

Handouts will be provided by email before class to all registered participants with sample poems, articles and links.



Bill Nevins was born in Stamford, Connecticut, near New York City, attended Iona College (BA), the University of Connecticut (MA in English Lit.) and UC Berkeley Grad. School of Journalism. He has studied under the guidance of poets Stephen Spender, Epifanio San Juan Jr., Terence Winch, Kell Robertson and others. He has lived in NYC, Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Montreal, Louisiana and, since 1996, in various places in New Mexico. He has been an educator in secondary schools and colleges, including CNM and UNM, a psychiatric social worker, a factory hand, a firewood cutter, a progressive political activist and war resistor, a Gold Star parent, a grandparent, a publishing journalist (sometimes from war zones such as 1980s Ireland), a film maker and film subject, an editor and a poet, including his current positions as a reporter for Trend of Santa Fe and No Depression and Poetry Editor for Logos a Journal of Modern Society and Culture. His book Heartbreak Ridge was published by Swimming With Elephants Publications in 2014 and his new collection Dearg Doom will be published by SWEP in 2020, while his Selected Poems will be published by Salmon Publishing, Ireland in 2023.  In recent decades, on reporting and literary research assignments, he has often traveled to Ireland, Spain, France and various areas of the USA and of Mexico. Settling in New Mexico, he taught at the University and at high schools in Albuquerque, as well as freelancing on cultural issues for several national publications. He has presented at many conferences and readings in New Mexico and nationally, including the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association conference.


Bill has helped to arrange New Mexico reading/speaking tours of several Irish songwriters and poets, including Larry Kirwan, Ray Collins,  Kevin Higgins, Annemarie Ni Curreain and this coming March, Paul Muldoon, and he is working towards a forthcoming 2020 visit by poet Adrian Rice and his musical group Belfast Boys. Bill Nevins’s favorite musicians include Miles Davis, Rage Against the Machine, Black 47, Lankum and Stoic Frame. He has hosted and established several poetry open mics in New Mexico, including his current monthly projects, Kaktus Poetry (with John Roche) in Bernalillo and Dialogue Open MIc at Dialogue Brewery, Albuquereque (with Jon Hendry and Jessica Helen Lopez). He is also an active member of Taos SOMOS, the NM Irish American Society and Irish American Writers & Artists. Contact: bill_nevins@yahoo.com and Bill Nevins on Facebook