Hancock Shaker Village Newest Shaker, Paul Muldoon

The Pulitzer Prize Winning Poet Wrote And Performed A Shaker Poem

By: - Oct 08, 2018


I grew up in an era when the poetry of Alan Ginsberg prevailed and the word ‘Gonzo’ was created. We went to underground movies at midnight and drank Miller High Life beer. The music we listened to was the Velvet Underground and The Fugs.

Life was good then.

No cell phones and no way for your parents to track you.

That was then and this is now, unless you find a refuge from the hustle and bustle of the world.

And that is what we did the other night.

We visited Hancock Shaker Village, near Lenox, Massachusetts and lived a ‘Shaker night.’ Chef Brian Arlberg cooked classic Shaker dishes and our hostess sang a half dozen Shaker songs as we slurped pumpkin soup.

We were going back in time.

Not only to Shaker time, but, to a time when poetry was king.  People would listen then. No Netflix-just the spoken word.

And that is exactly what the hierarchy at Hancock Shaker Village (later referred to as HSV) came to realize, years before I was born. 

I’m not the only one who has that message.

It seems that a white curly haired, Pulitzer prize winning poet, who found his way to HSV, a few nights ago was under the Shaker influence.

He brought a group of musicians to join him as he recited poetry and the musicians from the ever revolving Rogue Olifant band played songs using his poetry.

Paul Muldoon (67), who grew up in Northern Ireland, but, has been in the states since 1987. He recites his poetry, in-between copious musical notes, walks off stage and Rogue Oliphant takes over. They use his poems as the words for their unique style of music.

The poems are catchy, like the many quotes that have made Paul Muldoon a legend.

These are a few of his most followed quotes:

’Confusion is what we’re living with-not being able to make sense of what’s happening to us from day to day. Whereas making sense is what we’re aiming for-making sense.’

’We simply have not kept in touch with poetry’

’I’m sure 50 percent of television ads use rhyme’

’I don’t watch any tv almost as a matter of principle’

’One of my mother’s adages was: never eat a ham sandwich without looking into it first’

’At age 15, I felt I could be a poet, which I’m not sure of these days’

’The terrain in which people live has such impact on their lives and on their art’

’Most children are creators-then we stop them’

’There are two people involved in writing poetry: the writer and the first reader, initially housed in the same person’

Picture a Shaker country barn, a 60’s band and Paul Muldoon reciting poetry.

That was my night