Maggot Poems

Paul Muldoon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

144 Pages



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Of Plan B, an interim volume that included several of the poems in Maggot, Robert McCrum recently said in the London Observer that “Paul Muldoon, who has done so much to reimagine the poet’s task, has surpassed himself with his latest collection.” In his eleventh full-length book, Muldoon reminds us that he is a traditional poet who is steadfastly at odds with tradition. If the poetic sequence is the main mode of Maggot, it certainly isn't your father’s poetic sequence. Taking as a starting point W. B. Yeats’s remark that the only fit topics for a serious mood are “sex and the dead,” Muldoon finds unexpected ways of thinking and feeling about what it means to come to terms with the early twenty-first century. It’s no accident that the centerpiece of Maggot is an outlandish meditation on a failed poem that draws on the vocabulary of entomological forensics. The last series of linked lyrics, meanwhile, takes as its subject the urge to memorialize the scenes of fatal automobile accidents. The extravagant linkage of rot and the erotic is at the heart of not only the title sequence but also many of the round songs that characterize Maggot, and has led Angela Leighton, writing in The Times Literary Supplement, to see these new poems as giving readers “a thrilling, wild, fairground ride, with few let-ups for the squeamish.”


Praise for Maggot

“Paul the is a shape-shifting Proteus to readers who try to pin him down . . . Those who interrogate Muldoon’s poems find themselves changing shapes each time he does.” Richard Eder, The New York Times Book Review

"Mr. Muldoon revels in the disorder that wriggles beneath and below even the most rigid order . . . His new work is a teeming, infeted book from a teeming, infested mind. It bucks what its author calls 'this tiresome trend / towards peace and calm.'"—Dwight Garner, The New York Times

"[Muldoon] treats themes of sex, decay and death with startling, acrobatic wit."—Carmela Ciuraru, Los Angeles Times  

"Muldoon has been a major figure in English language poetry for decades. Despite being as established an established poet as the establishment will allow, there is the vivacity in this collection of a poet with a chip on his shoudler and something to prove. Maggot is a rare marriage between the frantic radical energy of a rebellious youth and the subtlety and sophistcation of a master of the form."—Josh Cook, Bookslut

"[Maggot] is filled with haunting images of decay and doom, from hares grazing dangerously on a runway to a geisha's body found on a Japanese mountain . . . Muldoon has recently said that he could give up poetry, but this book suggests it isn't giving up on him."—Patricia Monaghan, Booklist

"[Muldoon is] the poet's poet of his generation . . . he has created one of the most tumultuous and engrossing bodies of work still in progress"—Lachlan Mackinnon, The Daily Telegraph (London)

"[Muldoon is] the most significant English-language poet born since the second world war."—The Times Literary Supplement


Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

On my own head be it if, after the years of elocution and pianoforte,
the idea that I may have veered
away from the straight
and narrow of Brooklyn or Baltimore for a Baltic state
is one at which, all things being equal, I would demur.
A bit like Edward VII cocking his ear
at the mention of Cork. Yet it seems I've managed nothing more
than to have fetched up here.
To have fetched up here in Vilna—the linen plaids,
the amber, the orange-cap boletus
like a confession extorted from a birch,
the foot-wide pedestal upon which a prisoner would perch
Read the full excerpt





  • Paul Muldoon

  • Paul Muldoon is the author of ten books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize winning Moy Sand and Gravel (FSG, 2002) and, most recently, Horse Latitudes (FSG, 2006). He teaches at Princeton University.

  • Paul Muldoon Peter Cook