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the Complete Review
the complete review - poetry

Meeting the British

Paul Muldoon

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To purchase Meeting the British

Title: Meeting the British
Author: Paul Muldoon
Genre: Poetry
Written: 1987
Length: 43 pages
Availability: Meeting the British - US
in Poems 1968-1998 - US
Meeting the British - UK
in Poems 1968-1998 - UK
  • Also included in Poems 1968-1998 (see our review)

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Our Assessment:

B+ : more Muldoonian fun

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
New Statesman . 22/8/1987 John Lucas
The Observer . 3/5/1987 Terry Eagleton
Parnassus . (16/1) C. Bedient
The Sunday Times . 21/6/1987 John Carey
TLS . 4/9/1987 Mick Imlah

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The complete review's Review:

       In Meeting the British Muldoon again offers the familiar and the novel. Family, women, politics, Ireland, America are prominent.
       The first piece, Ontario, is, in fact, a prose-piece, it's settings very American. The title-poem is told from a native American point of view, recounting an old encounter. "The sky was lavender / and the snow lavender-blue", Muldoon sets the scene in the almost austere and very effective piece.
       Reminiscences are rich, a few scenes or episodes sketched (in Muldoon's deceptively facile approach) to great effect -- so, for example, in The Soap-Pig. The one long sentence of Something Else, following a train of thought, is typical of Muldoon's jumps (from lobster to inks to the poet Nerval), beautifully trailing off.
       He is also in fine form with his language-play -- though he can get carried away. Sushi has some unlikely imagery, including the Master chef fastidiously shaving (?) the fish, the rice, "every grain of which was magnetized / in one direction -- east", and "the roe / of sea-urchins".
       The collection closes with a long poem, 7, Middagh Street. It focusses on the group around W.H.Auden, allowing each, from "Wystan" to "Carson" (McCullers) to "Gypsy" (Rose Lee) and even "Salvador" (Dali) to speak in their own voice (or rather a Muldoonian approximation thereof).
       A variety of forms -- and some very forced rhymes -- can be somewhat distracting, but it is a quite successful sequence. Many of the bits are very good, whether biographical descriptions or imagined details. The various interpretations seem plausible as presented -- so, for example, the "Salvador" one, beginning with the explanation:

This lobster's not a lobster but the telephone
that rang for Neville Chamberlain.
       If not always a bravura performance, there is still a fair amount here that impresses.

       Meeting the British is an interesting small collection, with the usual Muldoonian tricks and twists and contortions of words (and allusions).

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Meeting the British: Paul Muldoon: Other books by Paul Muldoon under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of Poetry under review

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About the Author:

       (Northern) Irish poet Paul Muldoon was born in 1951. He has written several collections of poetry and opera libretti. He has become a citizen of the United States and currently teaches at Princeton University and at Oxford.

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