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Thursday, March 24, 2005 11:49 am

people's poetry

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PHOTO BY PETER C. COOK

Paul Muldoon teaches poetry at Princeton University, won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2003 for his collection Moy Sand and Gravel , and has been hailed by the Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War.” So why, you may ask, is he coming to Lincoln, Ill.?

The short answer is that he plans to give a free public reading at Einstein’s Louisiana Coffee House. The long answer takes us to Japan and back.

In 2002 Lee Gurga (the former Illinois Times “People’s Poetry” editor) took over as editor of Modern Haiku , the leading journal of haiku outside Japan, now in its 36th year of continuous publication. Before that time, there was a strong barrier between haiku poets and the larger poetry scene. Gurga took it upon himself to open a few doors. He has been quite successful. Recently the pages of Modern Haiku  have been graced with original new work by such poets as Muldoon, Gary Snyder, former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

This year Modern Haiku is beginning a series of chapbooks by individual poets. Paul Muldoon’s, titled Sixty Instant Messages to Tom Moore , is first in the series. (Thomas Moore, the Irish national poet, lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries). To celebrate the publication of this book, Modern Haiku is issuing a fine-press edition that is likely to become an instant collector’s item. And the press is holding a publication party at Einstein’s, to which you are invited.

Here are two examples of Muldoon’s work:

Good Friday. We fly
a kite over Bermuda.
Our cross in the sky.

Deckchairs on the deck.
The by-a-length teenagers
are now neck-and-neck.

According to the biography supplied on Muldoon’s Web site, he was born in 1951 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and educated in Armagh and at the Queen’s University of Belfast. From 1973-1986 he worked in Belfast as a radio and television producer for the BBC. He’s lived in the U.S. since 1987.

Paul Muldoon will give a free public reading at Einstein’s Louisiana Coffee House, 201 S. Sangamon St. in downtown Lincoln, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 29. To learn more about Muldoon, go to www.paulmuldoon.net.

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