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The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet delivers a sharp wake-up call with his fourteenth collection.
A “howdie-skelp” is the slap in the face a midwife gives a newborn. It’s a wake-up call. A call to action.
The poems in Howdie-Skelp, Paul Muldoon’s new collection, include a nightmarish remake of The Waste Land, an elegy for his fellow Northern Irish poet Ciaran Carson, a heroic crown of sonnets that responds to the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a translation from the ninth-century Irish, and a Yeatsian sequence of ekphrastic poems that call into question the very idea of an “affront” to good taste. Muldoon is a poet who continues not only to capture but to command our attention.
Named a Best Book of the Year by Financial Times, Irish Times, and The Guardian (UK)
"[A] storm of slaps against piety, prudery, cruelty and greed . . . Like Eliot, Muldoon’s after big, apocalyptic vision; unlike Eliot, Muldoon is willing—no, compelled—to clown . . . Like many important poets before him, from John Milton to Tim Rice, Muldoon knows that sinners and villains are more interesting, maybe more human, than self-appointed good guys. Poems, for Muldoon, are occasions to plumb the language for a truth that’s abysmal: as in appalling, and as in deep.” —Daisy Fried, The New York Times Book Review
“Truly, is there any living poet with as skilled and rambunctious an ear as Paul Muldoon? . . . One of the pleasures of Muldoon’s poems is the way they make reality seem to go right to the verge of surrealism, the very shaky lip of it. How does he do it?” —Jesse Nathan, McSweeney's
"Howdie-Skelp . . . offers the kind of slap that great poetry from the likes of William Butler Yeats or Seamus Heaney can produce, the kind of poetry that can make a reader wince with delight." —Michael Pearson, The New York Journal of Books
“When considering a poet as protean as Muldoon, analogies fail . . . Muldoon's poetry remains unremittingly consequential.” —Booklist