Development & Alumni Relations Office 


02 February 2017

The internationally renowned County Armagh born poet, editor and critic, Paul Muldoon (BA English, 1973), is to receive an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the University of Pennsylvania at the college's 261st Commencement ceremony in May 2017. The announcement was made (01 February) by Vice President and University Secretary, Leslie Laird Kruhly.

Born in 1951 the eldest of three children on a farm near The Moy, Paul Muldoon’s father, Patrick, worked as a farmer (among other jobs) and his mother Brigid (née Regan) was a schoolteacher.

In 1969, Paul read English at Queen's, where he met Seamus Heaney and became close to the Belfast Group of poets which included Michael Longley, Ciarán Carson, Medbh McGuckian and Frank Ormsby. During his time at University, his first collection New Weather was published by Faber and Faber (1973) when he was just 21.

For thirteen years (1973–86), he worked as an arts producer for the BBC in Belfast. During this time he published the collections Why Brownlee Left (1980) and Quoof (1983). After leaving the BBC, he taught English and Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia and at Caius College and Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge, where his students included Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and Giles Foden (Last King of Scotland).

In 1987, he emigrated to the United States, where he has taught on the creative writing programme at Princeton. He was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University for the five-year term 1999–2004, and is an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford.

In over 40 years he has published more than thirty collections and has won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Gravel (2003) and the T. S. Eliot Prize (1994). Among additional awards and honours he has been a recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature (1996), the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry (2003), the American Ireland Fund Literary Award (2004), the Shakespeare Prize (2004), the Aspen Prize for Poetry (2005), and the European Prize for Poetry (2006). He was awarded an honorary degree from his alma mater in 2001.

Roger Rosenblatt, writing in The New York Times Book Review, described Paul Muldoon as "one of the great poets of the past hundred years, who can be everything in his poems - word-playful, lyrical, hilarious, melancholy. And angry. Only Yeats before him could write with such measured fury."

At Princeton University Muldoon is both the Howard G. B. Clark '21 Professor in the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He has also served as president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker since 2007. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

In addition to twelve major collections, Paul Muldoon has also published a great many smaller collections, works of criticism, opera libretti, children’s books, song lyrics, and radio and television drama. His work has been translated into twenty languages.

Much in demand as a reader and lecturer, he also occasionally appears with a spoken word music group, Rogue Oliphant. Now living in New York City and Sharon Springs, New York, Paul is married to his second wife, the novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz, with whom he has two children, Dorothy and Asher.

Inquiries to Gerry Power, Communications Officer, Queen’s Development and Alumni Relations Office; tel: +44 (0)28 9097 5321.

Photo credit: The White Review

Note: The University of Pennsylvania's 261st Commencement ceremony will take place on Monday, May 15, 2017 in Franklin Field at 10:15 a.m. The ceremony will feature the conferral of degrees, the awarding of honorary degrees, greetings by University officials, and remarks by the Commencement speaker, Cory A. Booker, United States Senator for New Jersey.


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