“More than any poet of his generation he opened up channels between the Irish and English tradition, between regional and cosmopolitan allegiances, between Ulster and Irish perspectives.”
– The Times Literary Supplement
John Montague was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929. A few years later he was separated from his parents and sent to County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, where he was brought up by two maiden aunts on the family farm. He was educated at University College, Dublin, where he received his BA and MA degrees. In 1955 he received an MFA from the University of Iowa.
Before beginning a career of college teaching, he worked as Paris correspondent for The Irish Times. He taught at universities in France, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. In 1998, he was named the first Ireland Professor of Poetry, a three-year appointment divided among The Queen’s University in Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, and University College Dublin.
He has received many awards, including the Irish-American Cultural Institute’s Award for Literature, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award for 1995, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and has received honorary doctorates from a number of universities, including the Sorbonne. In 2010, he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, France’s highest civil award. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, short stories, and essays, and has edited major anthologies. Wake Forest is the publisher of his last ten volumes, and a new selection of his poetry, A Spell to Bless the Silence (2018).
Montague died on December 10, 2016, at the age of 87.
Praise for John Montague
“The best Irish poet of his generation.” – Derek Mahon
“[H]e is a world-class poet, one of that extraordinary group — perhaps a dozen? — who illuminate our lives, not just for now, but for as long as words have meaning.”
– Carolyn Kizer