Comment: My Week

Paul Muldoon Professor of Poetry at Oxford University
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The Independent Culture

The secretary from Oxford University calls to say that there are no other candidates standing and that I have been made Professor of Poetry. I am not sure why no one else has stood; this is the first uncontested nomination for many years. Tom Paulin, Professor of English at Hertford College, masterminded my nomination - the support of 49 college dons. I suspect the others may have found this a little daunting. I am delighted; it's a great honour. Many extraordinary poets have held the position. It will give me the opportunity to give some lectures; I have to do 15 over the next five years. Interview with Radio 4's Today programme at 11am.


I talk to the BBC in Northern Ireland, Radio 3 and my publishers. I have lunch with one of my students and then spend the afternoon trying to clear the decks to get ready for my wife's Caesarean operation, which is scheduled for Thursday. Desperately trying to finish a piece for the London Review of Books. I go for a picnic run by the Visual Arts Programme. I make an address list for the birth announcement. I've written a poem to go with it.


I drop my daughter off at school and take my wife's car into the garage. It has stopped dead and has smoke coming from it. I have to write a piece today and continue with my preparation for being away from work while my child is born. I have a quiet family dinner and go to bed early.


Up early. Leave my daughter with a friend and drop my wife off at the hospital. It all feels strange the second time round. We are saving the cord blood as it will be useful if the child ever needs medical attention. I am there during the birth. I take some photographs and hold my wife's hand. I cry. It's the most powerful thing I've ever experienced. Asher is born at 9.01am. The name comes from a character in a book by Chaim Potok. It means "blessed" in Hebrew. I wasn't asked to cut the cord; maybe I just don't look like a cord-cutter. I stay at the hospital.


Drop my daughter off at school and then spend the day in the hospital with my wife and our son. Take time to answer notes and faxes. Apart from that, I'm at the hospital. It's not as if a new dad should be anywhere else at this time.