How it’s New York: Irish Arts Center.
How it’s Irish: Irish born Paul Muldoon is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet and one of the most significant post World War 2 poets. Irishman Martin Hayes is a renowned fiddle player from Ireland.
Muldoon’s Picnic is a combination of music and the spoken word hosted by poet and Princeton professor Paul Muldoon at the Irish Arts Center in New York from September to December 2014. Both expressive forms are well suited to this type of performance integration and the lineup on Oct 14, 2104 delivered a superb and memorable night. Highly recommended. Two more Picnics to go on Nov 11th and Dec 8th. Ticket details and lineups below.
I first saw Paul Muldoon (Pulitzer winning poet) in action with his new Jersey based band The Wayside Shrines in August 2014 at the New York Poetry Festival on Governor’s Island. In an open-air arena competing with the crowds, vendors, wind and rain the band was very impressive but in the Irish Arts Center with in-house sound system the acoustics were superb. The music is a folk/traditional fusion (to me at least). Regardless of the category it is rhythm and organic. And fun. The individual musicians were flawless and obviously enjoying themselves.
Paul first introduced the band (and the story behind the Muldoon’s Picnic name) and then the first guest – Ireland’s best fiddle player Martin Hayes. Martin Hayes’s performance was amazing. Jigs, reels and slow airs. It was obvious he is very gifted and deep in each song he plays. He was showing us something beyond the performance. Something living. Something profound. After his first selection of tunes the band members bowed towards him which says it all really.
The second guest of the night Robert Pinsky (former Poet Laureate) who was accompanied by Martin Hayes on the poem ‘Samurai Song’. The effect was haunting and hypnotic. Pinsky’s second poem ‘Antique’ was just as powerful and wonderful. Pinsky is well known as a gifted reader of his own poetry and could see why.
The next guest Joyce Carol Oates – the prolific literary fiction author (and also a noted crime fiction writer – my special interest area) read two pieces without musical accompaniment. Her writing is so strong that I could listen all night. She read her poem ‘Too Young To Marry But Not Too Young To Die‘ about a courting couple who drowned on Lake Chippewa when the thin ice under their car gave way. Oates’ second piece (after the interval) was an open letter ‘To Marlon Brando in Hell’ was both stunning and disquieting. It was another highlight of the evening.
It was a superb night at the IAC – two Muldoon Picnics down and two to go – do not miss the next one Monday Nov 10th with Rick Moody, Meghan O’Rourke and Fay La Foe @ 7.30 pm. Tickets here. Last of the 4 picnics is Dec 8th with Patrick McCabe, Mark Mulcahy and Tracy K. Smith. Tickets for December event here. Irish Arts Center, 553 W 51st St, New York, NY 10019. http://www.irishartscenter.org/