One Thousand Things Worth Knowing: Poems

Paul Muldoon. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $24 (128p) ISBN 978-0-374-22712-8
“I cannot thole the thought of Seamus Heaney dead.” Muldoon (Maggot) opens his 12th book of verse with an impressive set piece, one major Irish poet’s lament for another. The elegy makes the Pulitzer Prize–winner and New Yorker poetry editor’s fact-filled, intricately rhymed style sound not so much playful as meant to stave off grief, “hemmed in every bit as much// by sorrow as by the crush of cattle.” There follow poems built around decades-old memories, reactions to paintings, and reactions to poems by Lorca, Pessoa, Dickinson, and Muldoon himself—there is even an explicit sequel, “Cuba (2).” As loyal readers expect, there’s also a stack of proper nouns worth Googling, and an assortment of bafflingly allusive objects: “the face of a barstool/ covered in a whale’s foreskin,” or “the chestnut tree where a soul was known to roost// before it was set in linotype.” Unlike Muldoon’s books of rock lyrics and literary criticism, these densely worked poems are meant to be re-read. All the pointers to earlier work, and to uncommon knowledge, make it less than ideal (except for the Heaney elegy) as an entry point to the Muldooniverse, but it’s powerful nonetheless, with witty pleasures and strong feelings to be unlocked and cherished. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 11/17/2014
Release date: 01/13/2015
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 96 pages - 978-0-571-31604-5
Open Ebook - 128 pages - 978-0-374-71364-5
Open Ebook - 96 pages - 978-0-571-31606-9
Paperback - 128 pages - 978-0-374-53668-8
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