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« Little grunts, the grins and grimaces of recognition »: Resistance and Exchange in Paul Muldoon and Norman MacBeath’s Plan B

« Little grunts, the grins and grimaces of recognition »: Résistance et échange dans Plan B de Paul Muldoon et Norman McBeath
Alexandra Tauvry

Résumés

Une grande partie du récent travail de Paul Muldoon a été consacrée à l’expérimentation avec les arts visuels et, en particulier, la photographie. Il a récemment publié un ouvrage intitulé Plan B (2009) en collaboration avec le photographe écossais Norman McBeath. Cet ouvrage présente au lecteur un nouveau genre : la « photoetry » (de l’anglais photography et poetry). En effet, Muldoon explique dans l’avant-propos que les poèmes et les photographies établissent « toutes sortes de connections qui leur sont propres, aucune n’étant évidente […] elles sont néanmoins d’une certaine manière toutes significatives, toutes accompagnées de petits grognements, les sourires et grimaces de la reconnaissance ». Cependant, bien que cet ouvrage mette en regard les poèmes et les photographies, Muldoon a de plus en plus recours au procédé littéraire de l’ekphrasis dans le but d’exploiter le travail des photographes. La poésie de Muldoon est parfois proche du palimpseste, une réserve de mots et d’images cachés qui n’apparaissent qu’en filigrane.

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Entrées d’index

Index géographique :

Irlande, Ireland

Index chronologique :

XXIe siècle, 21st century
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Notes de l’auteur

The photographs are not illustrative.

They, and the text, are coequal, mutually independent, and fully collaborative.1

Texte intégral

  • 2 Tim Kendall and Peter McDonald (eds.), Paul Muldoon: Critical Essays, Liverpool: Liverp (...)
  • 3 Before Plan B, Muldoon had already collaborated with Irish photographer Bill Doyle. Kerry Sli (...)
  • 4 Adam Newey, “Connections at the Keyboard,” The Guardian, 16 May 2009, n. p..
  • 5 Paul Muldoon and Norman McBeath, Plan B, London: Enitharmon Press, 2009, 7. All subsequ (...)

1The Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon has always been a prolific writer and one of the “most critically obliging” poets. As Peter McDonald astutely observes in his introduction to Paul Muldoon: Critical Essays, “scholarship […] is watching him, while he, inevitably perhaps, is watching the scholars.”2 In fact, critics are constantly on the lookout for some new “Muldoonian” material synonymous with experimentation and verbal shrewdness. One of his latest collections, Plan B, is a collaboration with acclaimed Scottish photographer Norman McBeath who specialises in portraits and reportage3. Plan B revolves around failed relationships, fatal car accidents, or, as Adam Newey would have it, “life’s cock-ups, contingencies and conspiracies.4” This photo-textual collaboration raises the following unavoidable question: who is illustrating whom? In his introduction to Plan B, Muldoon showed some concern as to the risks involved in any intersemiotic work: “I was […] very conscious of the difficulties of poems and photographs responding to each other in kind, of one given ‘in return’ for the other.5” In fact, the photographs were not tailor-made to suit the poems, contrary to mere illustrations, whose positioning and ranking traditionally make them inferior to the text. Instead, this interim volume presents the reader with a rather unusual relationship between text and image as McBeath’s twenty-eight close-grained black and white photographs rub against Muldoon’s poems in often unexpected ways:

  • 6 A. Newey, op. cit.

There may be, as the title of the Wallace Stevens poem has it, 13 ways of looking at a blackbird, but this collaboration between Paul Muldoon and the photographer Norman McBeath yields 28 perspectives on 10 poems […]. It would be wrong to think of the photographs as simply illustrative.6

2Furthermore, as the photographs in Plan B are devoid of the most minimal textual feature (since their titles appear at the end of the book), words do not impede on our “reading” of the photographs. This article therefore attempts to describe the degree of resistance at play between text and image as well as the nature of the exchange in this photo-textual work.

  • 7 “Despite the official ideology of the ‘sister arts’ and ut pictura poesis, the actual r (...)
  • 8 The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989, “Collaboration.” <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry (...)

3This essay first examines the notion of intersemiotic resistance that W. J. T. Mitchell highlighted in Picture Theory7. On Muldoon’s official website, Plan B was described at the time of its publication as the poet’s latest “collaboration.” This term has no unequivocal meaning as it can either refer to a “co-operation; especially in literary, artistic, or scientific work” or it can be interpreted as a “traitorous cooperation with the enemy.8” Without going as far as this second definition, I would indeed contend that there is in Plan B, as in any textual-visual work, a certain amount of implicit resistance between these two antagonistic media. Upon closer analysis, and as we make our way through the collection, it becomes clear that although this work was not meant to be a one-to-one collaboration, there are in fact serendipitous connections throughout the book. For the remainder of this article I will explore the notion of “photoetry” coined by Muldoon in order to illustrate how these fortuitous resonances blur the frontier between the visual and the textual thereby transcending the text/image dichotomy.

Kinetic Poems vs. Freeze Frames
[…]
Had I had more than a glimpse of a lake
through a break in a plateau,
had I not suddenly been forced to brake
for Apollo wrapped in polythene,
I might have been emboldened
and gone with the flow.
Even a road resists being led to water
like a lamb to the slaughter […] (37, 39, my italics)

4This is the only time Muldoon directly acknowledges one of the photographs taken by McBeath. However, the fact that the photograph of Apollo only appears on the following double page emphasises the fact that Plan B is not a traditional textual-visual diptych and that links between poems and photographs should not be taken for granted. Although the first half of this passage is clearly ekphrastic (in that it faithfully describes an image of “Apollo wrapped in polythene”), the final lines highlight the fact that Muldoon has indeed decided to “[go] with the flow” and, by the same token, to distance himself from ekphrastic poetry. Even if he has been “forced” to acknowledge the photograph, the lines “even a road resists being led to water / like a lamb to the slaughter” (my italics) ironically echo the degree of resistance between text and image and the abundance of freedom Muldoon allowed himself in his writing.

5The reason the poet chose this photograph of Apollo, which incidentally features on the cover of the book, is most illuminating in understanding the antagonistic relationship between text and image:

It was to the photograph of Apollo in transit that I felt I might be most likely to respond directly […]. The photograph has a kinetic, kinky aspect, and I imagined writing a kinetic, kinky poem in return. (7)

Fig. 1. Apollo

Fig. 1. Apollo
  • 9 All photographs are reproduced with permission from the artist.

©Norman McBeath9

  • 10 Personal interview with Paul Muldoon, 28 March 2010.
  • 11 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, (trans. Richard Howard), Lon (...)

6Muldoon indeed found this photograph very striking10 as if he had been affected by what Roland Barthes calls the “punctum”, which refers to the moment when a photograph “pricks” the viewer: “it is this element which rises from the scene, shoots out like an arrow, and pierces me.11” I would agree that the positioning of the arms and head of the statue suggests the possibility for Apollo to burst into motion at any moment. However, the wish for movement is prevented both by the constrictive polythene cover and by the way the photograph was cropped as it only shows the upper body and thighs, the legs and feet remaining out of the frame. I would therefore argue that although this photograph has a “kinetic” aspect, the stillness of the statue contrasts strongly with the vibrancy of the poem. This photo-textual diptych acts as a typical example of how the energy in the poems offsets the stillness of the photographs throughout this collection.

7Although McBeath is well-known for his portraits, most of the photographs in Plan B represent a pastoral landscape that is devoid of human presence and in which nature has reclaimed its rights: in Secret Garden, ivy has spread over a brick wall thus concealing its stone doorway; in the following image, trees have prevailed with time among the dilapidated walls and exposed beams of a dormant ruin; similarly, bare branches have grown through the panes of a derelict large window frame of the once magnificent Poltalloch House home of Clan Malcolm in Poltalloch. In the fifth image, an upright piano is decaying in a garden that is becoming steadily more overgrown; a close-up of its battered keyboard in the penultimate photograph displays its bare mechanism, its worn-out hammers and strings that have long stopped vibrating. As the few human figures portrayed in the photographs are statues, the general feeling one gets when looking at these photographs is that time has stopped and that the human figures have “jerked // to a standstill” (section II of “Extraordinary Rendition”). (21) The movement carried by the action verb “jerk” at the very end of the last line of the first stanza stops suddenly in the space created by the enjambment and is reinforced by the immediate break with the next stanza. It is as if the only human beings pictured in the book had been photographed in this split-second moment and transformed into sculptures. McBeath’s photographs of the statues of Apollo, the Muse Euterpe (goddess of music), and the female bust in Conservatory, illustrate this sudden immobility. In his introduction to Oxfordshire (1992), in which the photograph Godstow first appeared (formerly entitled Godstow Nunnery), McBeath explains why some of his works are devoid of human presence:

  • 12 Norman McBeath, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1992, vii.

With one exception there are no people in any of the photographs. For me this is strange in that I have always found people fascinating and spend a lot of time photographing them in a number of contexts. However, for such a topic I felt that they would only serve as a distraction. More than that, I wanted to provide something of a balance in being able to concentrate not so much on the oft talked about “moment” but on the form and light within each frame. I think this comes better across in that other moment, the instance before people arrive or just after they have left.12

8This comment, although it refers to another work, sheds light on the role that is played by the poems in relation to the photographs. In fact, contrary to McBeath’s photographs, Muldoon’s poems abound in characters, mainly couples, as if they were there to animate the photographs.

9On the opposite page of the picture of the battered piano, Muldoon informs us that “a ball [was] thrown in 1860 in honour of Edward // (then Prince of Wales).” (17) It is as if the photograph represented a dark omen of what was to happen to this piano, or, as if the poem gave the story of this long out-of-tune piano at the time of its heyday. Similarly, the fidgety nature of the short poem “A Mayfly” seems to animate the accompanying photograph Table. We are told how a mayfly entered Deictine’s mouth, how she subsequently gave birth to the mythological hero Cuchulainn, how a thrush “tipped off avalanches” and, last but not least, how the branches of a larch metamorphosed into a “triumphal arch made of the femora / of a woman who’s even now filed under Ephemera.” (23) Repetitions as well as rhyming couplets are the threads that hold together this concatenation of events:

A mayfly taking off from a spike of mullein
would blunder into Deichtine’s mouth to become Cuchulainn,
Cuchulainn who had it within him to steer clear
of a battlefield on the shaft of his own spear,
his own spear from which he managed to augur
the fate of that part-time cataloguer, […] (Ibidem)

10The pendant photograph, on the contrary, contrasts sharply with this chaotic and volatile mixture:

Fig. 2: Table

Fig. 2: Table

©Norman McBeath

  • 13 François Soulages, Esthétique de la photographie, Paris: Éditions Nathan Photographie, (...)
  • 14 Michael Sheringham, Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present, Oxf (...)

11The positioning of the chair in the centre, of the bunch of flowers in the middle of the table, and of the frames on each side of the photograph equidistant from the centre of the table, illustrates an intentional symmetrical and theatrical spatial arrangement. In this case it is very likely that the photographer consciously framed this setting. “Ça a été joué,” as François Soulages would have it13. This photograph is endowed with a performative function: this setting has been staged as if the events in “A Mayfly” were to take place in this well-proportioned setting. In this sense, McBeath’s citation quoted above echoes what Michael Sheringham said of J.-A. Boiffard’s picture of l’Hôtel des Grands Hommes in André Breton’s Nadja: “[t]he theatrical emptiness and immobility […] point to the possibility of a future event.14” In fact, one gets the feeling that the geometric reassurance of this picture (Table) will soon be overwhelmed by the helter-skelter chain of events of the poem.

12Although this collection is not a one-to-one collaboration, these examples illustrate what James Agee and Walker Evans said about their own collaboration in the epigraph to my paper: even if McBeath’s photographs are not illustrations, one can see this collection as evidence of the complexity of relations between the poems and the photographs as well as proof that they are necessarily interdependent and “fully collaborative.”

Dialogue Between Poetry and Photography

I sat one evening with the photographs and copies of the poems contained in Plan B and, like the kind of party host we’ve all been encouraged to believe ourselves to be, allowed them to get into conversation with each other. Before I knew it, they were making all sorts of connections of their own, none right-in-your-face except for the connection between the photo of Apollo in transit and the “Apollo wrapped in polythene” referred to in “Wayside Shrines,” yet all somehow revelatory, all accompanied by little grunts, the grins and grimaces of recognition.
It would not be too much of a stretch, then, to say that this combination of poems and photographs was curated neither by Norman McBeath nor me but by the poems and photographs themselves. (7)

13In this introduction, Muldoon clearly states the random interaction that is at play between the photographs and the poems and that is akin to the notion of serendipity that he once elaborated upon:

  • 15 John Redmond, “Interview with Paul Muldoon,” Thumbscrew, n° 4, Spring 1996: 4, qtd. in T. K (...)

Words want to find chimes with each other, things want to connect. […] I was almost going to say “I accept the universe!” I believe in the serendipity of all that, of giving oneself over to that. It’s only one way of looking at it of course. I’m certainly not saying that’s the only way one can write poems. It’s the way I happen to write poems at this moment. That might change.15

14Thus, words – a fortiori words and images – are similar to free electrons that develop their own connections in a more or less unpredictable way. For instance, the eponymous poem “Plan B” establishes a type of interaction with the photographs that informs most of the rest of the collection. It is composed of seven sections that do not initially seem to bear any direct link with the five accompanying photographs.

Fig. 3. Rope

Fig. 3. Rope

©Norman McBeath

15However, in the poem that features alongside the photograph entitled Rope, Muldoon obliquely hints both at the title of the photograph and at the motif of the knotted rope. In the third section of the poem, Muldoon narrates the story of the Coney Island circus elephant Topsy who was electrocuted for having killed her master. We are told that the animal was supposed to be “hanged by the neck” (11) but that the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was opposed to it. Furthermore, the term “KGB garotte” a few lines down hints at “a Spanish method of capital punishment by strangulation”16, the end-rhyme “ope” in section four visually echoes the unnamed “rope” and, finally, one of the meanings of the last verb in section five “to belay” is “to coil a running rope.17” In this particular instance, the poem is thematically linked with the photograph. Yet, contrary to a typical ekphrastic poem, this interaction is more oblique as the poet develops a whole narrative based on the theme of the rope without ever mentioning the term directly, as if he was ironically abiding by the rules of the theatre where it is traditionally a taboo word.

16Plan B also offers personal stories, in particular failed relationships, which are mirrored by the photographs in surprising ways. For instance, Settee shows an empty couch in a sitting room that suggests absence and invisibility. On the opposite page, the poem “The Water Cooler” takes as its main theme the end of a relationship therefore appropriately echoing the absence of human presence in the photograph. Similarly, the relation between the two-part poem “Extraordinary Rendition” and the second photograph on page twenty is rather uncanny:

[…]
You gave me back lake-skies,
pulley-glitches, gully-pitches, the reflected gleams
of two tin plates and mugs in the shack,
the echoes of love-sighs
and love-screams
our canyon walls had already given back. (21)

17The photograph chosen on the opposite page seems perfect to illustrate this personal failure and the deceitful nature of the love affair. At first sight, the following photograph therefore seems to represent a prickly plant:

Fig. 4.Moss

Fig. 4.Moss

©Norman McBeath

18Yet, things are not what they seem to be. In fact, the title of the photograph is, somehow surprisingly, Moss. This close-up therefore thwarts our first interpretation of this photograph as McBeath chose to discard the cushiony visual aspect of this vegetal in order to emphasise another side of it. The thorny quality of the plant appropriately echoes the bitterness of the break up depicted in the poem. This particular example not only shows how the word “moss” could have metaphorically imprinted on our retina an image that would have hindered the connection between the poem and the photograph, it also illustrates the visual pregnancy of words. On this note, Jacques Rancière argues that

  • 18 Jacques Rancière, The Future of the Image, (trans. Gregory Elliott), London: Verso, 2007, (...)

the image is not exclusive to the visible. There is visibility that does not amount to an image; there are images which consist wholly in words. […] The visible can be arranged in meaningful tropes; words deploy a visibility that can be blinding.18

19In fact, the term “photoetry” coined by Muldoon perfectly illustrates how the frontier between the “visible” and the “readable” is subverted in Plan B.

Photoetry

  • 19 A. Newey, op. cit., n. p.

20According to Adam Newey, Muldoon’s “pinball logic” creates poems that “resemble multiple-exposure photographs” that “ramifi[y] in unexpected ways.19” This is exemplified for instance in the diptych that consists of the photograph Cows and the sonnet “The Sod Farm,” which revolves around a car accident.

Fig. 5. Cows

Fig. 5. Cows

©Norman McBeath

  • 20 Paul Muldoon, The Annals of Chile, London: Faber and Faber, 1994, 34.

21In a previous poem entitled “Cows” and published in The Annals of Chile (1994), the speaker explains that “these [animals] are earth-flesh, earth-blood, salt of the earth.20” This is indeed what best describes the defensive bovine “obstacle” depicted in the photograph. However, the earthiness of the photograph and of the two first quatrains of “The Sod Farm” contrasts strongly with the lightness that culminates in the last few lines of the sestet:

[…]
Her gauze-wrapped arms

now taking in unending variations
and surprises: temples, grottoes,
waterfalls, ruins, leafy glades

with sculpture, and such features
as would set off the imagination
on journeys in time as well as space. (41)

22This rollercoaster ride effect created by the stretched run-on-line from the end of the second quatrain to the end of the poem indeed “ramifies in unexpected ways.” The “gauze-wrapped arms” are endowed with a more ethereal dimension so that, in this particular instance, distance between words and reality is increased. The poetic language is made visually pregnant thereby filling our imagination with these picturesque landscapes. This example illustrates how this textual-visual collaboration transcends the traditional boundaries between word and image. It is the case for instance in the following example of “François Boucher: Arion on the Dolphin,” which is poised between poetry, photography, music, and painting.

From Diptych to Polyptych

  • 21 François Boucher, French, 1703-1770. Arion on the Dolphin (1748). Oil on canvas 86.0 x 135. (...)

Fig. 6. Arion on the Dolphin (1748) by François Boucher21

Fig. 6. Arion on the         Dolphin (1748) by François Boucher21
  • 22 As Muldoon is currently lecturing at Princeton University, it is interesting to men (...)
  • 23 Angela Leighton, “Ear and Ox-Tongue,” Times Literary Supplement, 16 October 2009, 2 (...)

23The poem “François Boucher: Arion on the Dolphin,” which consists of six sonnets, takes as its main theme the kidnapping of the Dionysiac poet Arion by pirates and his rescue by a dolphin. Arion on the Dolphin was commissioned in the mid-eighteenth century by French King Louis XV for the Château de La Muette and was originally part of a series of overdoors representing the Four Elements. However, only Arion on the Dolphin and its companion piece Vertumnus and Pomona, respectively representing Water and Earth, were completed22. Interestingly enough, the photograph Forest Floor on the opposite page to the first part of “François Boucher,” could represent the earth counterpart to Arion on the Dolphin as if Water and Earth were brought together again in this first diptych. In fact, it is as if the prelapsarian bucolic backdrop of Forest Floor was waiting to be filled by the characters of Vertumnus and Pomona (the nymph Pomona, the God of orchards Vertumnus, and a winged cupid, among others). As argued by Angela Leighton, this poem is “a characteristic tour de force, with its ritornello form and rollicking route through the sounds of words: flurry, hurry, murrey, mulberry, mull, worry, hull, hulk, for example.23” Music indeed plays a major role in this poem and in one particular instance of synaesthesia: the “sky’s pinks and pewters / resound.” (25, my italics)

  • 24 The libretto was written by Pierre-Charles Roy and the music was composed by Michel (...)
  • 25 The picture-book written by Vikram Seth and illustrated by Jane Ray was based on th (...)

24Among the different adaptations of the myth of the Dionysiac poet, an opera-ballet entitled The Elements (Les Éléments) was performed on 31 December 1721 at the Tuileries24, and a more contemporary opera was commissioned by the Baylis Programme at the English National Opera, which premiered in June 199425. Muldoon may have had these two operas in mind as he transforms this fantastic myth into an action-packed story, a colourful and burlesque piece of theatre. He highlights for instance theatrical tropes such as extravagant make-up, “this eye-linered and lip-glossed Arion,” or props such as the “fan / of a wind-machine” (25) that could create wind on stage. The Beckettian motif of the tramps is also alluded to as tritons metamorphose into tramps and temptresses: “On a grassy knoll two Tritons dressed as tramps / are doing the Versailles vamp.” (31) The overt theatricality of the poem is made even more obvious in section five, which almost resembles a boy’s adventure story:

[…]
The Triton in a slump

across the raft has taken a hit
to the throat. […] (33)

25These passages hint at the diversity of the media at work in this poem, ranging from the musicality of the libretto, to the dramatic turn-of-events of the theatrical performance. Yet, the visual dimension of the painting by Boucher, who is obliquely acknowledged in the words “butcher-block” (31) as well as in the more direct terms “butcher” and “le boucher” (33) pervades the whole poem.

26There are clear alignments between the poem and the painting such as when the speaker mentions Arion’s characteristic attribute, his “lyre’s five strings”, and the striking “murrey” colour of his cloak (25, 27). Other colours such as “pewter and pink”, “blue-green” and “mulberry” (29, 33, 27) also demonstrate a strong connection with the original painting and McBeath’s photograph Paint representing a pell-mell arrangement of colour tubes. To further enhance the intertextuality of this poem, Muldoon brings together in the penultimate stanza a reference to Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa and to the more contemporary shipwreck of PT-109 that both visually echo the soon-to-be shipwreck in the background of Arion on the Dolphin, whose “figurehead”, we are told, is “in sharp decline” (29) (once again, the immediate break with the following stanza after “decline” illustrates more pointedly this inevitable outcome). Fittingly, the last photograph Gravestone represents a memorial commemorating a maritime disaster thereby acting as a catalysing agent of all three shipwrecks.

27Yet, what is even more striking than these alignments between the poem and the painting is that Muldoon goes as far as describing, not so much the painting itself, but the act of painting:

[…]A course that was laid long before the keel of oak
was laid to soak
in Piraeus, got to be, long before murrey
would infiltrate his cloak, […] (27, my italics)

28In fact, the last line suggests the possibility of the colour in the poem infiltrating the painting or the cloak of the antique figure sculpted above the window of the Radcliffe Observatory in the black and white photograph that features on the opposite page:

Fig. 7. Observatory

Fig. 7. Observatory

©Norman McBeath

29In the course of this article I hope to have shown that Plan B is more than a poet-photographer collaboration. There is at once resistance and exchange as both text and image have the capacity to withstand the solicitation of the other medium and yet interact in remarkable ways. The extraneity of the photographs – due to their different nature and because they are introduced from without – creates freedom for the artist who comes second in the collaboration, namely Muldoon. On the inside cover of Plan B, we are told that apart from the Apollo of the front cover, which is directly acknowledged in one of Muldoon’s poems, “much of the success of this beautifully produced book has to do with indirection and evocation” (inside cover). The term “indirection” is intimately linked with the notion of obliquity and intertextuality, which are idiosyncratic elements of Muldoon’s poetry and of this collection in particular. This new genre called “photoetry” adds another dimension to this collaboration and takes this photo-textual book well beyond the traditional boundaries of verbal and visual works: the photographs and the poems rub against each other like flintstones creating sparks that offer various manifestations of the visual.

30Before publishing Plan B Muldoon had already worked with the visual artist Lanfranco Quadrio whose drawings featuring torn-off wings or fragments of wings beautifully accompanied Muldoon’s original poems and translations in When the Pie Was Opened (2008). In the same year in which he published Plan B, Muldoon also produced another textual-visual collaboration this time featuring pencil drawings and full colour reproductions of paintings by the artist Keith Wilson. Wayside Shrines was published by The Gallery Press and is part of a series including The Riverbank Field by Seamus Heaney and Martin Gale (2007), Conversation in the Mountains by John Banville and Donald Teskey (2008), and Somewhere the Wave by Derek Mahon and Bernadette Kiely (2007). It thus seems very likely that more textual-visual collaborations are to come that will continue to lead Irish poetry to more visual horizons.

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Bibliographie

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Notes

2 Tim Kendall and Peter McDonald (eds.), Paul Muldoon: Critical Essays, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2004, 1.

3 Before Plan B, Muldoon had already collaborated with Irish photographer Bill Doyle. Kerry Slides (1998) was published by The Gallery Press and revolves around the Dingle Peninsula where Muldoon lived after having spent thirteen years working for the BBC in Belfast. Similarly, McBeath also engaged in close collaborations with several poets. His portraits of Irish poets Tom Paulin and Paul Muldoon, and Scottish poets Douglas Dunn and Don Paterson, were exhibited as part of the Faces of Poetry: Contemporary Photographs exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London from 24 January to 14 July 2010. He also did a portrait of Seamus Heaney on another occasion and is currently working on a book of portraits of poets. McBeath recently published Simonides (2011), which is a collaboration with Scottish poet Robert Crawford. The exhibition Body Bags / Simonides was exhibited at the Edinburgh Art Festival 2011.

4 Adam Newey, “Connections at the Keyboard,” The Guardian, 16 May 2009, n. p..

<http://www. guardian.co.uk/books/2009/may/16/plan-b-paul-muldoon-newey/print>, accessed 24 January 2010.

5 Paul Muldoon and Norman McBeath, Plan B, London: Enitharmon Press, 2009, 7. All subsequent references to this work are taken from this edition and the relevant page numbers will be indicated in brackets in the text.

6 A. Newey, op. cit.

7 “Despite the official ideology of the ‘sister arts’ and ut pictura poesis, the actual relations of verbal and visual art since the Renaissance might be more aptly described as a battle or contest, what Leonardo da Vinci called a paragone.” W. J. Thomas Mitchell, Picture Theory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994, 227.

8 The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989, “Collaboration.” <http://www.oed.com/view/Entry/36197?redirectedFrom=collaboration#eid>, accessed 24 January 2010.

9 All photographs are reproduced with permission from the artist.

10 Personal interview with Paul Muldoon, 28 March 2010.

11 Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, (trans. Richard Howard), London: Vintage, 2000, 26.

12 Norman McBeath, Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1992, vii.

13 François Soulages, Esthétique de la photographie, Paris: Éditions Nathan Photographie, 1998, 53.

14 Michael Sheringham, Everyday Life: Theories and Practices from Surrealism to the Present, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006, 92.

15 John Redmond, “Interview with Paul Muldoon,” Thumbscrew, n° 4, Spring 1996: 4, qtd. in T. Kendall and P. McDonald (eds.), op.cit., 120.

16 The Oxford English Dictionary, op. cit., “Garotte,” def. 2. <http://www.oed.com/view /Entry/76881? rskey=sMKZ70&result=1&isAdvanced=false#eid>, accessed 14 September 2011.

17 Ibid., “Belay,” def. 5a. <http://www.oed.com/view/ Entry/17325?rskey=Es8bcO&result=2&isAdvanced=false#eid>, accessed 14 September 2011.

18 Jacques Rancière, The Future of the Image, (trans. Gregory Elliott), London: Verso, 2007, 7.

19 A. Newey, op. cit., n. p.

20 Paul Muldoon, The Annals of Chile, London: Faber and Faber, 1994, 34.

21 François Boucher, French, 1703-1770. Arion on the Dolphin (1748). Oil on canvas 86.0 x 135.5 cm. (33 7/8 x 53 3/8 in.) Princeton University Art Museum. Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund y1980-2. Photo: Bruce M. White. Reproduced with permission from Princeton University Art Museum.

22 As Muldoon is currently lecturing at Princeton University, it is interesting to mention that these two paintings were reunited at the Princeton University Art Museum from 13 March to 13 May 2010.

23 Angela Leighton, “Ear and Ox-Tongue,” Times Literary Supplement, 16 October 2009, 26.

24 The libretto was written by Pierre-Charles Roy and the music was composed by Michel-Richard de Lalande and André Cardinal Destouches. (See “A Royal Commission” online at

<http://omnparts.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Boucher-brochure.pdf.>, accessed 24 September 2011.)

25 The picture-book written by Vikram Seth and illustrated by Jane Ray was based on this opera.

1 James Agee and Walker Evans, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, London: Peter Owen Ltd, 1965, xiii.

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Table des illustrations

Titre Fig. 1. Apollo
Crédits ©Norman McBeath9
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 15k
Titre Fig. 2: Table
Crédits ©Norman McBeath
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 24k
Titre Fig. 3. Rope
Crédits ©Norman McBeath
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 29k
Titre Fig. 4.Moss
Crédits ©Norman McBeath
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-4.png
Fichier image/png, 156k
Titre Fig. 5. Cows
Crédits ©Norman McBeath
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-5.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 14k
Titre Fig. 6. Arion on the Dolphin (1748) by François Boucher21
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-6.png
Fichier image/png, 396k
Titre Fig. 7. Observatory
Crédits ©Norman McBeath
URL http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/docannexe/image/6026/img-7.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 23k
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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Alexandra Tauvry, « « Little grunts, the grins and grimaces of recognition »: Resistance and Exchange in Paul Muldoon and Norman MacBeath’s Plan B », Revue LISA/LISA e-journal [En ligne], vol. XII-n° 3 | 2014, mis en ligne le 06 juin 2014, consulté le 14 juillet 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/lisa/6026 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/lisa.6026

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Auteur

Alexandra Tauvry

Trinity College Dublin, Irlande. Alexandra Tauvry is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of English at Trinity College Dublin under the supervision of Prof. Brian Cliff. Since October 2011, she has been a Government of Ireland IRC Scholar. Her Ph.D. thesis focuses on the tension between autobiography and autofiction in the work of Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon. She has contributed to several conferences in Ireland and in France on Muldoon’s textual-visual works as well as on the notion of memory.

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Les contenus de la Revue LISA / LISA e-journal sont mis à disposition selon les termes de la licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

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