John Montague (MAHNT-uh-gyew) has published short stories, a novella, a memoir, a collection of his essays, several volumes of poems translated into English (some in collaboration with others), and several anthologies of Irish literature.
John Montague is one of the preeminent poets writing in English in the past several decades, perhaps best known for his poems about the Troubles (past and present) in Ireland and about personal relationships. Among his many awards and prizes are the Butler and O’Shaughnessy Awards from the Irish American Cultural Institute (1976), the Marten Toonder Award (1977), the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award from the Poetry Society of Great Britain (1978), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1979-1980), the Hughes Award (1987), the American Ireland Fund Literary Award (1995), a Festschrift, Hill Field, in honor of his sixtieth birthday, and the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize (2000). He received honorary degrees from the State University of New York, Buffalo (1987); University College, Cork; and the University of Ultser, Coleraine (2009). A signal honor was being named, and serving as, the first Ireland Professor of Poetry (1998-2001).
Irish University Review 19 (Spring, 1989). This special issue, edited by Christopher Murray, includes an interview with Montague, seven articles on his work, an autobiographical essay by Montague (“The Figure in the Cave”), and Thomas Dillon Redshaw’s checklist of Montague’s books.
Kersnowski, Frank. John Montague. Lewisburg, Pa.: Bucknell University Press, 1975. The first book-length study of Montague’s work (actually a slim monograph), this work surveys his career through The Rough Field. Its chief value may be its readings of individual poems and stories.
Montague, John. Chosen Lights: Poets on Poems by John Montague in Honour of His Eightieth Birthday. Edited by Peter Fallon. Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Ireland: Gallery Press, 2009. Poets such as Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, and Eamon Grennan comment on poems by Montague.
_______. Company: A Chosen Life. London: Duckworth, 2001. The first volume of Montague’s memoirs, focusing mainly on the 1950’s and 1960’s. Provides entertaining and often illuminating accounts of his encounters with Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Theodore Roethke, and many others. The book’s most memorable portrait, however, is that which emerges indirectly of the author himself. The warmth, wit, intelligence, generosity, and humor of his sensibility inform the book.
_______. The Pearl Is Ripe: A Memoir. Chester Springs, Pa.: Dufour Editions, 2007. The second volume of Montague’s memoirs, similarly warm and witty, takes up where the author left off in Company. Recounts his dealings with Allen Ginsberg, Patrick Kavanagh, and the composer Séan Ó Riada.
Redshaw, Thomas Dillon, ed. Well Dreams: Essays on John Montague. Omaha, Nebr.: Creighton University Press, 2004. Eighteen essays examine successive aspects of Montague’s career. The most substantial work published on Montague.