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Luke McMullan

Luke McMullan


From Belfast in Northern Ireland, Luke McMullan lives between New York and London. He is a poet and a translator of Old English. His scholarly work is on the history of philology and the changing relationships between concepts of language and knowledge.





  • n. (Wide Range, 2012)
  • Dolphin Aria/Limited Hours: A Love Song (BlazeVOX, 2015)
  • RUIN (BlazeVOX, 2018)


Sample Text

'Fragment' [from RUIN]

what wanes but heaps
in cleaving clings
to the grinding wheels
of a deftly sun’s
first pitiless design,

springs the formless forth
til in that ring
should bathe
all circumstance,
encircled things



On Dolphin Aria

'At once jagged and smooth, there's delicacy in this confrontation with personal and collective responsibility that can take one's breath away.'—John Kinsella


'You’ll want to re-read this book in multiple directions. In this sense, RUIN is a complex essay on the thinking of translation over time, as well as an articulate and lapidary ear-led celebration of the enduring energies of a poem about place, architecture, resurgence and memory in and as language. These energies loop enthrallingly in McMullan’s version, bringing us circuitously to the notion that language is not a system of signs, but a mud-flecked knotwork of attractions, mysteriously and often achingly incomplete, yet fundamentally comedic.'—Lisa Robertson

'Mallarmé suggested that the pages of a book, settled into thickness, present to us the soul’s resting place: in RUIN the tomb is broken, the genie at large, the book one restless upshot of an age of mass bombings.'—Peter Manson

'Luke McMullan’s experiment in poetic 'thick translation' defies the common notion of a translation as a substitute for the original text. Instead, the poet-translator offsets the text, a ruin, with multiple translations done according to different methods, like Mount Fuji in Hokusai’s woodblock series, and with multiple commentaries on the language of the original. This elegant little book is itself an allegory of translation—and of reading in general—as an act of encountering, rather than appropriating, the Other.'—Eugene Ostashevsky


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