Designated “one of the two or three most accomplished rhymers now writing in the English language” by the New York Times, Muldoon was born to a schoolteacher mother and laborer father. He began writing poetry in Irish but turned to English after he went to Queen's University, Belfast, where he encountered and was encouraged by Nobel-winning poet Seamus Heaney. While still a student, he had his first volume of poetry, New Weather, published. After graduation he worked as a producer at the BBC Belfast, then in 1986, moved to the U.S., where he lives with his wife, novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz, and their two children. His poetry collections include Why Brownlee Left (1980), Meeting the British (1987), and Kerry Slides (1996). He has penned the lyrics for a number of operas by Daron Hagen, among them, Shining Brow (1993). He teaches creative writing at Princeton University, and, in 1999 was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford, which requires him to give three lectures a year. Muldoon has been awarded the Sir Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award 1991, the T. S. Eliot Award in 1994, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature (1996).
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