Twenty years ago London's Sunday Times said of British poet James Fenton that his uniqueness lay in "having so much to write about," words that also apply to his Irish contemporary Paul Muldoon. Fenton worked for years as a foreign correspondent for London newspapers, notably in Southeast Asia and Germany; Muldoon spent more than a dozen years as a BBC radio and television producer in Belfast. Both men have worked on opera librettos. Fenton fashioned a translation of Rigoletto to fit 1950s New York mobsters; Muldoon's Vera of Las Vegas, with music by Daron Hagen, casts a couple of ex-IRA men as illegal immigrants in the New World. Muldoon also plays guitar with a group called Rackett and has had songs recorded by Warren Zevon and the Handsome Family. In verse Fenton often comes on like a Rudyard Kipling from the left, sifting through the ashes of empire until he's outraged. In his gravelly tone Muldoon, who now teaches at Princeton, transfers Ulster's melancholy to suburban New Jersey. These two major figures in the British Isles will discuss and read from their work as they consider "The Eternity of the Poem." Fri 11/12, 7 PM, Saint James Cathedral, 65 E. Huron, 312-494-9509, $6, $5 in advance.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Jerry Bauer, Dominique Nabokov.