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The Word on the Street Rock Lyrics

Paul Muldoon

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374261083

9780374261085

Hardcover

96 Pages

$23.00

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In his new book of rock lyrics, Paul Muldoon goes back to the essential meaning of the term “lyric”—a short poem sung to the accompaniment of a musical instrument. These words are written for music most assuredly, with half an ear to Yeats’s ballad-singing porter drinkers and half to Cole Porter—and indeed, many of them double as rock songs, performed by Wayside Shrines, the Princeton-based music collective of which Muldoon is a member. Their themes are the classic themes of song: lost love, lost wars, Charlton Heston, barbed wire, pole dancers, cellulite, Hegel, elephants, Oedipus, more barbed wire, Buddy Holly, Jersey peaches, Julius Caesar, Trenton, cockatoos, and the Youngers (Bob and John and Jim and Cole). The Word on the Street is a lively addition to this Pulitzer Prize–winning poet’s masterful body of work. It demonstrates, once again, that, as Richard Eder has written in the pages of The New York Times Book Review, “Paul Muldoon 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.”

REVIEWS

Praise for The Word on the Street

“This is still Paul Muldoon. While these lyrics follow a more rigid, verse/chorus/verse structure than many of his poems, there are lines that are heavy with allusions and obsessed with their own creation, as is characteristic of the poet . . . The work in this book mostly resembles the wordy lyrics of another New Jersey poet, Bruce Springsteen . . . What both Mr. Springsteen and Mr. Muldoon seem to realize is that a rock lyric does not have to force its poetic prowess. The ‘go-cart Mozarts’ and ‘racket boys’ on the boardwalk of Mr. Springsteen’s lyrics occupy the same place as the fact-checker who can’t properly trace the root of pilus in Mr. Muldoon’s ‘News Headlines from the Homer Noble Farm,’ or the barley farmer who abandons his land without a word in ‘Why Brownlee Left.’ They are symptoms of a larger sadness brewing in the space between the philosophical and the mundane. They want to escape—their town, their class, their lover—but sense the futility of retreat. The nameless band at the center of ‘Comeback’ had ‘no sooner said farewell / Than it was time to reunite.’ They end up back in Jersey, playing the Meadowlands, ‘just another band / With only two surviving members.’”—Michael H. Miller, The New York Observer

Reviews from Goodreads

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Paul Muldoon is the author of eleven books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Moy Sand and Gravel (FSG, 2002) and, most recently, Maggot (FSG, 2010). He is the Howard G. B. Clark University Professor at Princeton.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Paul Muldoon

  • Paul Muldoon is the author of eleven books of poetry, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Moy Sand and Gravel (FSG, 2002) and, most recently, Maggot (FSG, 2010). He is the Howard G. B. Clark University Professor at Princeton.

  • Paul Muldoon Peter Cook
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