29 | Paul Muldoon | The Bannisters

The Bannisters
Vallum Chapbook Series No. 29
Paul Muldoon

The Bannisters explores the origins of the objects, people, and places that populate our lives. Muldoon examines these histories with equal parts confidence and curiosity, holding them up like artifacts to light. Considering the world through the lens of what could best be described as a kind of Particle Theory, Muldoon argues that although things may change over time, a vestige of their existence will endure, an archive preserved in their original make-up — “Our ornamental gates and railings that were melted down / for rifle barrels have gained some sort of posthumous renown.”

This innovation and adaption of one physical entity to another is echoed in Muldoon’s experimentation with structure, using traditional poetic forms and flipping them on their head with fresh use of rhyme and meter. A masterful storyteller, Muldoon creates vivid worlds that captivate and surprise, showing us that the ordinary is much greater than that.


The desert would be an ocean were it able to withhold
its judgement on wavelet after sand-wavelet
and suspend itself over its own floor.


It’s not only death’s a Great Leveller.”


Author’s Bio

Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951. He now lives in New York. A former radio and television producer for the BBC in Belfast, he has taught at Princeton University for more than thirty years. He is the author of thirteen collections of poetry including, most recently, Frolic and Detour (2019). Among his awards are the 1972 Eric Gregory Award, the 1980 Sir Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, the 1994 T.S. Eliot Prize, the 1997 Irish Times Poetry Prize, the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, the 2003 Griffin International Prize for Poetry, the 2004 American Ireland Fund Literary Award, the 2004 Shakespeare Prize, the 2006 European Prize for Poetry, the 2015 Pigott Poetry Prize, and the 2017 Queens Gold Medal for Poetry. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society for Literature and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.



Table of contents

The Bannisters
The Sheet
Cow Moose, Route 125, Ripton, Vermont

17 pages total

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