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Paul Muldoon is a writer, academic and educator, as well as Pulitzer Prize-winning poet from County Armagh, Northern Ireland.  Since 1987 he has lived in the United States, where he[…]

It’s at the heart of his poetry, and Muldoon tells us of the best metaphors he’s come up with of late.

Paul Muldoon: Yes, the making of metaphor is at the heart of, I suppose, what I do it. So one is going to pretend to say that but I mean it is a if one would examine it yes that is right, it is at the heart of it. 

A particular kind of metaphor making but it was back to our friend John Dunn and George Herbert, and those guys who specialized in a very particular kind of metaphor, the conceipt, as I say, the extended metaphor, that find a likeness between two on like things and then sort of dragged it on to drew it on like gold, to airy thin beat, as somebody puts it, so a sort of beating the thing on finding every connection the extended Metaphor so I am interested in that.

I am interested in the outlandish metaphor and the finding of connections that are fire flung and yet one hopes illuminating.

So in fact, indeed, we where talking about earlier on. One of the absolute essentials, when metaphor making, is extreme difference; having acknowledged same nesses in the world and one needs extreme differences, actually, to make decent metaphors.

There is really no point in comparing like with like.

There is no point in saying my baseball bat is like a baseball bat. It is of no interest; absolutely none. So one has to go done down the road a little bit to find something with which it is akin.

Question: What is the best metaphor you’ve come up with recently? 

Paul Muldoon: Recently? I am not sure about recently. I don’t know. From early on; I am just thinking; some along the way.

One of the very earliest ones are the particularly, on to this way of John Dunn, was the connection between the crown of thorns on the head of the Christ and a hedgehog, the little thorn, a little quick to animal, then our relationship between  the original Siamese twins, Chang and Young, who died five hours apart, one of them died five hours before the other; connecting that to a relationship in which there is a time zone difference but all of the five hours; but also a relationship that is coming to an end.

Those are just two off the top of my heads.

The one of the things I, like most writers I think, I hope, I don’t really sit around writing, reading my own stuff, so I am not a good person to ask about examples of it.


Recorded on: Jan 30, 2008