September 25, 2006

Oxford Poetry Conference: Panel on Muldoon

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After some people dropped out, my paper was pushed into this panel, which was actually pretty useful. You can see my abstract here on my eportfolio:

The first paper on Muldoon was by Jonathan Baines of Hertford College, Oxford, who talked about the parenthesis in Muldoon’s poetry. He gave an entertaining talk describing what he called Muldoon’s ‘philo-parenthesism’ and he asked what is not a parenthesis in this state of affairs? He compared Muldoon to William Empson. The points that I picked out from the talk were:
  • that there is a Muldoonian proliferation of meaning;
    *that parenthesis on parenthesis combine to combine to create something rich and strange;
    *that there is stress between the finite and the unbounded;
    *that the parenthesis can also be a whim.

Rachel Buxton of Oxford Brookes University gave a paper on the refrain in Muldoon’s poetry. She described how in much of Muldoon’s poetry, particularly Moy Sand and Gravel, a word, line or phrase is repeated to create a wearying monotony mimetic of tedium. Buxton thinks that this is an intentional part of Muldoon’s poetics which is useful and effective. She noted how the refrain that states ‘I give way to you’ in Muldoon’s ‘As’ is the only certain thing in the poem. She stated that she found this poem to be too much like an exercise.

The final speaker talked on translations, but he did not have much time . My notes for his paper are incomplete.

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