"Your average pop song or film is a very sophisticated item, with very sophisticated ways of listening and viewing that we have not really consciously developed over the years - because we were having such a good time."All quotations
Muldoon was born on a farm outside Moy, County Tyrone, the eldest of three children. The family was Catholic in a largely Protestant area of Northern Ireland. His father worked as a farmer (among other jobs) and his mother was a school-mistress. In 2001, Muldoon said of the Moy; "It's a beautiful part of the world. It's still the place that's 'burned into the retina', and although I haven't been back there since I left for university 30 years ago, it's the place I consider to be my home. We were a fairly non-political household; my parents were nationalists, of course, but it was not something, as I recall, that was a major area of discussion. But there were patrols; an army presence; movements of troops; a sectarian divide. And that particular area was a nationalist enclave, while next door was the parish where the Orange Order was founded; we'd hear the drums on summer evenings. But I think my mother, in particular, may have tried to shelter us from it all. Besides, we didn't really socialise a great deal. We were 'blow-ins' - arrivistes - new to the area, and didn't have a lot of connections."
Talking of his home life, he continues "I'm astonished to think that, apart from some Catholic Truth Society pamphlets, some books on saints, there were, essentially, no books in the house, except one set, the Junior World Encyclopaedia, which I certainly read again and again. People would say, I suppose, that it might account for my interest in a wide range of arcane bits of information. At some level, I was self-educated." He was a '"Troubles poet" from the beginning.
In 1969, Muldoon read English at Queen's University Belfast, where he met Seamus Heaney and became close to the Belfast Group of poets which involved writers such as Michael Longley, Ciarán Carson, Medbh McGuckian and Frank Ormsby. Muldoon said of the experience, "I think it was fairly significant, certainly to me. It was exciting. But then I was 19, 20 years old, and at university, so everything was exciting, really." Muldoon was not a strong student at Queens. He recalls "I had stopped. Really, I should have dropped out. I'd basically lost interest halfway through. Not because there weren't great people teaching me, but I'd stopped going to lectures, and rather than doing the decent thing, I just hung around". During his time at Queens, his first collection New Weather was published by Faber and Faber. He met his first wife, fellow student Anne-Marie Conway, and they were married after their graduation in 1973. Their marriage broke up in 1977.
For thirteen years (1973–86), Muldoon worked as an arts producer for BBC arts in Belfast, (including the most bitter period of the Troubles). During this time he published the collections Why Brownlee Left (1980) and Quoof (1983). After leaving the BBC he taught English and creative writing at Caius College, Cambridge, and the University of East Anglia where he taught such writers as Lee Hall (Billy Elliot) and Giles Foden (Last King of Scotland). In 1987, he emigrated to the United States, and teaches in the creative writing program at Princeton. He held the chair of Professor of Poetry at Oxford University for the five-year term 1999–2004, and is an Honorary Fellow of Hertford College, Oxford University.
Muldoon is married to novelist Jean Hanff Korelitz, whom he met at an Arvon writing course. He has two children, Dorothy and Asher, and lives in Griggstown, New Jersey.
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