Paul Muldoon at the Irish ambassador's house in Washington, May 13, 2013. Paul Muldoon at the Irish ambassador’s house in Washington, May 13, 2013.

Paul Muldoon was the guest of honor this afternoon at an elegant luncheon at the Irish Ambassador’s residence in Washington.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, who was born in County Armagh, Northern Ireland and now teaches at Princeton University, is in town for a reading this evening at the Folger Library. He’ll talk about his favorite poets and read from his own work. (Tickets can be purchased at the door for $15.) A reception and book signing will follow.

Muldoon’s presentation tonight coincides with a free exhibit at the Folger called “Nobility and Newcomers in Renaissance Ireland,” which closes this weekend. Brendan Kane, one of the curators who was at the ambassador’s luncheon today, noted that the exhibit has provoked more heated reaction than he had anticipated. He said that one particularly irate critic had accused him of being “an apologist for genocide.”

But this afternoon’s conversation over lunch — set with Irish crystal and linens — was far more cordial. The fingerling potatoes recalled fond memories for Muldoon and Simon Carswell, the Washington correspondent for the Irish Times.

As the school year winds down, Muldoon is preparing to teach poetry this summer on a Semester at Sea in the Mediterranean.

A poet’s life, apparently, is not all lonely and tortured.