Prize-Winning Poet Visits Campus

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Prize-Winning Poet Visits Campus

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Pulitzer-prize winning poet Paul Muldoon completed a three-day residency at Dickinson from April 1 – 3 as the recipient of the 2014 Stellfox award.

Born and educated in Ireland, Muldoon currently serves as an endowed Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and previously worked as the poetry editor for the New Yorker. Muldoon has published more than 30 volumes of poetry over his 33-year career, and has been described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English language-born poet since the second World War.” His 2002 volume Moy Sand and Gravel won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and his 1994 collection The Annals of Chile won the T.S. Eliot Prize in the same year.

Muldoon’s visit began with the Stellfox Concert, where members of the Dickinson choir and orchestra performed a work composed by assistant professor of music Robert Pound. Commissioned by the Stellfox Committee especially for the event, Pound’s compositions set excerpts of Muldoon’s poetry to music. The April 1 concert was followed by the Stellfox Reading and Award Reception, held Wednesday, April 2 at 7 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlecter Auditorium. Muldoon spent roughly 45 minutes reading selections of his poetry before accepting the Stellfox Award from President Nancy Roseman.

Following the poetry reading, members of the campus community gathered at the president’s house for a dessert reception. Muldoon’s visit also included visits to classes and meals with faculty and students, as well as an hour-long question and answer session with students on Thursday, April 3.

Students who attended events with Muldoon were struck by the distinct delivery style during his poetry reading, as well as his personable engagement with students.

“I enjoyed listening to Muldoon because he wasn’t just reading poetry, but performing it,” said Leah Shafer ’14. “He was also very personable in the way he addressed his audience in the talk and in the question and answer session the next day.”

“[Muldoon] made his poetry very human-centered in the way he interacted with the audience,” said Jessica Klimoff ’16. “He wanted us all to be experiencing the poetry together at once.”

The Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Visiting Scholars and Writers Program is supported by a generous donation by Jean Louise Stellfox ’60, who gave most of her 1.5 million dollar estate to the college when she died in 2003. Inspired by Robert Frost’s 1959 visit to campus, Stellfox stipulated that her donation be used to bring literary figures to the college each year to complete a residency that may include readings, discussions, performances and a public address and award ceremony.