Friday, May 27

Book of the Week: Horse Latitudes

Horse Latitudes by Paul Muldoon

Paul Muldoon is a poet and author of several books including 'Quoof' and 'Moy Sand and Gravel'. Horse Latitudes was published in 2006 by Faber and Faber. The title refers to the geographical area north and south of the equator, 'where ships tend to be becalmed, where stasis if not stagnation is the order of the day, and where sailors traditionally threw horses overboard to preserve food and water.'

It begins with a series of sonnets, each based on the scene of a battle, and each place name starts with the letter 'B' - Beijing, Boyne, Berwick-upon-Tweed…  These show adeptness at historical themes and his playful attitude to rhyme, pairing 'Roma' and 'Hypersarcoma' and 'purple' with 'hip-hirple' among others. A woman called Carlotta features in most of these, providing a sense of unity and personalising the series.

Other poems are on a mixture of subjects and lengths, including 'Turtles', 'Eggs' and 'The Old Country'. There is a longish series of tercains in the middle, with the quirky title, '90 instant messages to Tom Moore'.

There are several references to modern culture, not least music: one poem is an ode to Bob Dylan in concert, and the last poem, 'Sillyhow Stride', is subtitled: 'In memory of Warren Zevon.'

Muldoon's poems can be obscure but they are rich with playful language and surprising choices of words and subjects.

I have decided to link up with the 'Friday Reads' hashtag/meme on twitter
 and dedicate Fridays to reviewing a book 
that I have read during the week.