Corrections or additions?
This article by Nicole Plett
was prepared for the March 13, 2002 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Princeton’s Vision of Irish Riches
Ireland’s contribution to world culture
has been extraordinary," says Irish-born poet Paul Muldoon in
a delicious Irish brogue. "Given the size of that country, its
sheer impact on world literature, for the last several hundred years,
has been extraordinary — particularly in the 20th century. There
you have G.B. Shaw, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, Samuel Beckett. And now
on the contemporary front too, it’s also quite remarkable."
Thanks to Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies, Muldoon and
his colleagues are bringing more Irish culture to more people. A 1998
donation by Pat Durkin ’60 established the fund that gave its first
programs in 1999. Muldoon serves as the program’s spokesman and head
of its 17-member advisory committee. And though he’d rather not draw
attention to himself, his latest collection, "Poems 1968 and
published 2001, is due to be released in paperback in April.
Durkin’s gift that launched the Fund for Irish Studies was made as
part of the university’s 250th anniversary campaign. Its name is
particularly appropriate since its acronym — FIS — means
"This is a two-part businesses," Muldoon explains with
"On one hand we’re attempting to bring a little more focus to
things that are already happening and courses that are already being
taught here. We also encourage members of the committee to teach new
courses with an Irish aspect. The other side of the FIS mission is
a series of public events that span the languages, literatures, drama,
visual arts, history, politics, and economics of Ireland."
Muldoon says that over four years of programming there has been a
lot of interest, particularly from the larger community. All FIS
are free and open to the public.
Yeats’ scholar R.F. Foster of Oxford University gives then next talk
on "Glory and Friends: Yeats and His Contemporaries" on
April 12. One of its more ambitious past offerings was last December’s
"The Death of Oscar Wilde," a reading marking the centenary
of Wilde’s death presented by writers and faculty members Michael
Cadden, Lawrence Danson, Jeff Nunokawa, Elaine Showalter, and Muldoon.
Among the "extraordinary" contemporary Irish creative artists
is the Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, who will give a reading
at Princeton’s Richardson Auditorium on Wednesday, April 17, at 4:30
p.m. Colm Toibin and Dermot Healy have read for FIS in the past. Next
year, it will present poets Tom Paulin and Nuala Ni Dhonhnaill.
Marina Carr, whose works have been produced at McCarter Theater, will
give the talk that was postponed earlier this year.
Muldoon says contemporary Irish directors and filmmakers Neil Jordan
("The Crying Game") and Stephen Rea both have standing
from FIS. Irish music is also a giant on the arts scene. From
Gaelic reels to Sinead O’Connor and the Grammy grabbing Irish pop
music group U-2, America is intimately familiar with this export.
Next academic year FIS will host singer and musicologist Len Graham
and Padraigin Ni Uallachain. Muldon is also hoping for a future
by Irish classical pianist John O’Conor, who is also the formost
of the innovative `Nocturnes’ of 19th-century Irish composer John
— Nicole Plett
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