Are you an American poet or an Irish poet?

Question: Are you an American poet or an Irish poet?

Paul Muldoon: I think what I have said is that I would be happy to be considered a poet by anybody, and honestly, I really don’t care if I am thought of as an American poet or an Irish poet. It’ll be great to be thought of as a poet at all really. It’s a rather tall order. 

I’m a person who was born in Ireland, who has lived in the US for the long time and you can call me whatever you like; and one is called down all sorts of things, so I am not too concerned about that.

Fact is that one of the glories of the present state of the nation is that, while I am an American citizen, I have never given up my Irish citizenship, and so that makes life a lot simpler in some ways. And I say that because the fact that it acknowledges the complexity of being here that one does not necessarily equal some geographical appellation.

One of my discoveries over the last year or so has been that I was given as a present by someone a DNA test, and, when I sent off my DNA test--I am not sure what I was expecting--but anyways it came back and the burden of it was that I was, as it were, let’s say it says 85% European, whatever that means, and 15% East Asian. And this is a phenomenon that’s quite common in Ireland, and I’m not entirely sure what it means. It’s a phenomenon that I’m pretty sure very old. It may go back to the Vikings and it may go back further, much further, to a time when middle Europe had influences from further east. So I rather delight in that.

I’m really very interested in things being accepted as being much more complex as they truly are rather than these moves towards simplification and notions of purity, for example, in the ethnic or racial vein, which of course bring us very quickly to the concentration camp.


Recorded on:  Jan 30, 2008

Anyone can call Muldoon a poet.

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