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 Paul Muldoon’s striking new collection include a nightmarish remake of The Waste Land, an elegy for his fellow Northern Irish poet Ciaran Carson, a 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. Paul Muldoon is a poet who continues not only to capture, but to hold our attention.