Poet Paul Muldoon explores ‘Human Chain’ at Seamus Heaney HomePlace

August 17, 2017

Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Muldoon, one of the greatest living poets in English, is to curate a special programme of events at Seamus Heaney HomePlace from 8 – 10 September to mark the first anniversary of the centre.
Born in Portadown, Muldoon studied under Heaney at Queen’s University and his work has been acclaimed internationally for its playful wit, technical brilliance and the freewheeling juxtaposition of images and ideas.

For his HomePlace programme, Muldoon has chosen to explore Heaney’s final collection, ‘Human Chain’, through music, poetry, film, discussion and dance, much of which has been specially commissioned for the event.

Speaking about the inspiration behind his programme, Paul Muldoon said:

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to organise this weekend at Seamus Heaney HomePlace particularly since, as with all great books, the ideas summoned up by the phrase Human Chain resonate beyond the collection itself.”

The programme opens on Friday 8 September with a talk from one of Ireland's foremost literary and cultural historians, Terence Brown, who will introduce the ‘Human Chain’ collection, the title poem of which Heaney dedicated to him.

Celebrated internationally for her work as principal dancer and co-choreographer on Riverdance, Jean Butler is now working in a contemporary dance context and will offer a deeply personal response to Heaney’s collection in ‘Performance Reflections’ on Friday 8 September

What gets passed on from generation to generation is a key theme of the ‘Human Chain’ collection.  Geneticist Professor Dan Bradley will be tracing the ‘human chain’ of Irish ancestry in Testing the Links:  DNA and the Chain of Irish Ancestry on Saturday 9 September, while traditional singer Len Graham will be exploring the rich musical heritage of Ulster through Songs of Sport, Work and Play on the same day. 

Paul Muldoon has long been fascinated by horses, which recur throughout his work.  In From the Horse’s Mouth – a reading by Paul Muldoon, on Saturday 9 September, Paul will read some of his ‘horse poems’, before being joined by musicians Barry Devlin and Jim Lockhart for the world premiere of ‘The Lament for Art O’Leary’, Muldoon’s new translation of the greatest love poem in the Irish language which has been set to music by the Horslips stars. 

One of the poems in ‘Human Chain’ describes Heaney being rushed to hospital by ambulance after having a stroke in 2006.  On Sunday 10 September, a pamphlet of poems paying tribute to the work of The Ambulance Service will be launched, featuring contributions from such poetic luminaries as Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley and Sinead Morrissey. 

In a moving celebration of continuity and change which echoes key themes of ‘Human Chain’, the weekend will close on Sunday 10 September with Continuities - A Poetry Reading with Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson, Frank Ormsby and Kevin Young, all of whom were taught by Heaney.

Tickets for “Paul Muldoon curates Seamus Heaney’s ‘Human Chain’” at Seamus Heaney HomePlace can be purchsed online here.