Muldoon, Rosenblatt to talk poetry’s function and effect



After four days of exhilarating conversation, thought-provoking questions and applause that resonated throughout the columns of the Amphitheater, Chautauqua favorite Roger Rosenblatt will close out the week bearing his name with Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Paul Muldoon.

At 10:45 a.m. today, the audience will have the opportunity to hear from the Irish poet as he converses with Rosenblatt, who holds Muldoon in high esteem.

“He’s one of the great poets of the age. By which I mean one of the top two or three,” Rosenblatt said. “He was certainly an equal of Seamus Heaney, and Heaney loved him, and he loved Heaney. He’s not just a great Irish poet — he’s a great modern poet, and his work is going to endure.”

Muldoon said he was intrigued by Chautauqua’s humble beginnings, and that he is excited for his first visit to Chautauqua Institution.

During today’s morning lecture Muldoon will be discussing poetry and its function in the world.

“The idea of effect, or efficacy, is one that arises again and again when we talk about art,” Muldoon said. “I intend to answer the question once and for all.”



In addition to discussing poetry’s place in the world, the New Yorker poetry editor will also be sharing poems from his new book, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing, a title Muldoon said he borrowed from a 19th-century volume of household hints and practical tips.

When it came to discovering his poetic voice, Muldoon said he could not pinpoint a certain time or place of origin, but rather described it as a work in progress.

“I’ve never found a voice or honed my skills,” Muldoon said. “I have to find the voice specific to each new poem, and to learn how to write it on the job.”

With a panoply of works to his name, Muldoon said that some of his newest projects are becoming his favorites, including translations, a libretto, songs, lectures and a commissioned poem.

While Muldoon’s many occupations keep him busy, the Princeton University professor said that he is as much an educator as he is a writer.

“I almost always learn something from my students, I think,” Muldoon said. “Teaching is a privilege, I believe. That’s why I find it hard to listen to university teachers who complain about their work. They should try catching fish or making moccasins.”

In addition to Muldoon’s endeavors as a poet, editor and professor, he is a guitarist and lyricist in a rock band called the Wayside Shrines.

“I’ve always been interested in trying to write songs,” Muldoon said. “My musician friends in Wayside Shrines very kindly allow me to work with them.”