Paul Muldoon announced as new Ireland Professor of Poetry

Poet is looking forward to teaching in Ireland after 35 years lecturing in the US

Paul Muldoon has been announced as the next Ireland Professor of Poetry at a reception hosted by President Michael D Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin today.

Muldoon will be the ninth Ireland Professor of Poetry, taking over from the current holder, Frank Ormsby. The position will run until November 2025.

The Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust was established in 1998 following the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Seamus Heaney. It was felt that this honour should be marked every three years by choosing a poet of distinction to hold the position of Ireland Chair of Poetry. The chair is jointly held between Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin, as well as the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Muldoon said of his appointment: “To be a poet at all is to be a professor of poetry. In this case, it’s especially gratifying to have the opportunity to formalize that professing, that ‘declaring openly’, of how poetry has been the central spiritual practice of my life.


“In the course of the next three years I hope to focus less on the writing of poetry than the reading of it. At Queen’s University, Belfast, for example, I’ll be leading discussions on How To Read a Poem. These discussions will centre on poems published in literary journals and newspapers in the same week as our meeting and will be open to one and all. That’s a forum I also plan to offer in both UCD and TCD, though I’m very keen to make further connections with the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore at UCD and the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation. The lectures I’ll be giving as Ireland Professor of Poetry will reflect all of these interests, plus a few more.

“After 35 years of teaching in the US, I’m looking forward to connecting more immediately with, and contributing to, the cultural life of Ireland.”

Muldoon was born in Co Armagh in 1951 and studied at Queen’s University Belfast. He is the author of 14 full-length collections of poetry. He has won major poetry awards, including the John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence, the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, the Pulitzer Prize and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. He served as poetry editor of the New Yorker from 2007 to 2017.

Since 1987, Paul Muldoon has lived in the United States, where he is Howard GB Clark Professor of the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Peter B Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. He has also published collections of criticism, children’s books, opera libretti, song lyrics, and works for radio and television and recently, with the support of Poetry Ireland, he toured Muldoon’s Picnic all over Ireland together with his band Rogue Oliphant.

It has been said of his work that “In our time of tired mirrors and more-than-tiresome confession, Muldoon is the rare poet who writes through the looking glass.”

Liam Hannaway, chair of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust, said, “I am delighted to witness Paul joining the great line of fantastic Irish poets who have held the position of Ireland Professor of Poetry and wish him good fortune in his work. The announcement of his appointment by President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin is fitting given the prestigious nature of this appointment by the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the previous Ireland Professor of Poetry, Frank Ormsby, and thank him for his contribution to the appreciation of poetry in Ireland and beyond, over the past three years.”

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle is Books Editor of The Irish Times