Tom Paulin

Thomas Neilson Paulin (born January 25, 1949 in Leeds, England) is a Northern Irish poet and critic, well-known for his anti-Zionist views. He lives in England, where he is the GM Young Lecturer in English Literature at Hertford College, Oxford.

Life and work

While he was still young, Paulin's Northern Irish Protestant mother and English father moved from Leeds to Belfast and Paulin grew up in a middle class area of Belfast. According to Paulin, his parents, a doctor and headmaster, held "vaguely socialist liberal views".

Paulin was educated at Hull University and Lincoln College, Oxford. From 1972 to 1994, he worked at the University of Nottingham, first as a lecturer and then as a Reader of Poetry. In 1977, he won the Somerset Maugham prize for his poetry collection A State of Justice and later established his reputation as a literary critic with work such as Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State (1992). Recently he has championed the work of literary and social critic William Hazlitt and has taken part in a successful campaign to have Hazlitt's gravestone refurbished.

Paulin is most widely-known in Britain for his appearances on the late-night BBC arts programmes The Late Show, Late Review and Newsnight Review, where he has established a reputation not only for his acerbic judgements but also for the unusual quality of some of his language (for instance, he once described the sound of Blur's 13 album as "like barbed wire at the bottom of a pond"). He is also not averse to becoming involved in bad-tempered arguments with other regular guests such as Germaine Greer.

His appearances on Newsnight Review were parodied on the Adam and Joe show's Toy Review. It featured a stuffed-toy tortoise with an Irish accent called Tom Tortoise, who strongly resembled Paulin.

In 1980, together with Brian Friel, Stephen Rea, Seamus Heaney and Seamus Deane, Paulin co-founded the Field Day Theatre Company.

Controversy

Paulin was the subject of controversy in 2001 and 2002 following the publication of his poem Killed in Crossfire in the British newspaper The Observer[1] in February 2001, and subsequent accusations that its content was anti-Semitic. In the poem Paulin referred to the 'Zionist SS'.

These accusations increased following an interview he gave to the Egyptian state-controlled newspaper Al-Ahram Weekly, in which he appeared to call for the killing of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. He told the newspaper that Brooklyn-born Jewish settlers "should be shot dead" and that "they are Nazis, racists. I feel nothing but hatred for them". In response to the accusations of anti-Semitism, he told the newspaper: "I just laugh when they do that to me. It does not worry me at all. These are the Hampstead liberal Zionists. I have utter contempt for them. They use this card of anti-Semitism. They fill newspapers with hate letters. They are useless people." [2]

Paulin considers his statements to be anti-Zionist, but not anti-Semitic as, in the interview, Paulin said he “never believed that Israel had the right to exist at all.” Paulin later claimed to be "a lifelong opponent of anti-Semitism", and also stated that he did "not support attacks on Israeli citizens under any circumstances", [3]. In an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, he was quoted as saying "I can understand how suicide bombers feel. It is an expression of deep injustice and tragedy", and in the Jerusalem Post that "It is better to resort to conventional guerrilla warfare. I think that attacks on civilians in fact boost morale. Hitler bombed London into submission, but in fact it created a sense of national solidarity." [1]

The interview resulted in the cancellation and subsequent reinstatement of Paulin's invitation to deliver the prestigious Morris Gray Lecture at Harvard University. [4]

Bibliography

  • Theoretical Locations (Ulsterman Publications, 1975)
  • Thomas Hardy: The Poetry of Perception (Macmillian, 1975)
  • A State of Justice (Faber and Faber, 1977)
  • Personal Column (Ulsterman Publications, 1978
  • The Strange Museum (Faber and Faber, 1980)
  • The Book of Juniper (Bloodaxe Books, 1981)
  • A New Look at the Language Question (Field Day, 1983)
  • Liberty Tree (Faber and Faber, 1983)
  • Ireland and the English Crisis (Bloodaxe Books, 1984)
  • The Argument at Great Tew: A Poem (Willbrook Press, 1985)
  • The Riot Act: A Version of Sophocles' "Antigone" (Faber and Faber, 1985)
  • The Faber Book of Political Verse (editor) (Faber and Faber, 1986)
  • Fivemiletown (Faber and Faber, 1987)
  • The Hillsborough Script: A Dramatic Satire (Faber and Faber, 1987)
  • Seize the Fire: A Version of Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound" (Faber and Faber, 1990)
  • The Faber Book of Vernacular Poetry (editor) (Faber and Faber, 1990)
  • Minotaur: Poetry and the Nation State (Faber and Faber, 1992)
  • Selected Poems 1972-1990 (Faber and Faber, 1993)
  • Walking a Line (Faber and Faber, 1994)
  • Writing to the Moment: Selected Critical Essays 1980-1996 (Faber and Faber, 1996)
  • The Day-Star of Liberty: William Hazlitt's Radical Style (Faber and Faber, 1998)
  • The Wind Dog (Faber and Faber, 1999)
  • The Fight and Other Writings by William Hazlitt (co-edited with David Chandler) (Penguin, 2000)
  • Thomas Hardy: Poems selected by Tom Paulin (editor) (Faber and Faber, 2001)
  • The Invasion Handbook (Faber and Faber, 2002)
  • D. H. Lawrence and "Difference": The Poetry of the Present (co-authored with Amit Chaudhuri) (Oxford University Press, 2003)
  • The Road to Inver (Faber and Faber, 2004)
  • Crusoe's Secret: The Aesthetics of Dissent (Faber, 2005)
  • Metaphysical Hazlitt: Bicentenary Essays (co-edited with Uttara Natarajan) (Routledge, 2005)

References

1. ^ The Jerusalem Post Nov. 14, 2002

External links

    Diwrnod Santes Dwynwen.
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