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The Bag Apron: The Poet and His Community

John Montague (author)
Publication date:
31st October 2017

Author Biography

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929, John Montague was raised in Garvaghey, Co. Tyrone, and educated at University College Dublin, Yale University and the University of California at Berkeley. He co-founded Claddagh Records, and became president of Poetry Ireland in 1979. His poetry includes Forms of Exile (1958); Poisoned Lands (1961); A Chosen Light (1967); Tides (1970); The Rough Field (1972); A Slow Dance (1975); The Great Cloak (1978); The Dead Kingdom (1984); Mount Eagle (1988); Time in Armagh (1993); Collected Poems (1995); Smashing the Piano (1999); Carnac (1999); Drunken Sailor (2004); Speech Lessons (2011) and New Collected Poems (2012). His Second Childhood was published posthumously in 2017. He won the Marten Toonder Award in 1977, a Guggenheim fellowship in 1980, the Ireland Funds Literary Award in 1995 and the Lifetime Achievement Irish Book Award 2016; he was made a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 2010 and has honorary doctorates from SUNY, the Sorbonne and UCD. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 1998-2001. John Montague died in Nice in December 2016.


The Bag Apron: The Poet and His Community is part of UCD Press's The Poet's Chair series, publishing the public lectures of the Ireland Professors of Poetry. The Ireland Chair of Poetry was established in 1998 following the award of the Nobel Prize of Literature to Seamus Heaney and is supported by Queen's University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Counci 1/An Chomhairle Ealafon. Other poets in the series include Nuala N1 Dhomhnaill, Paul Durcan, Michael Longley, Harry Clifton and Paula Meehan. In his volume of The Poet's Chair, John Montague speaks of finding his own voice and of 'wandering around the world to discover the self you were born with'. He also shares his thoughts on the long poem format and the relationship between words and music, investigates the challenges of translation in poetry, and speaks about his relationship with Samuel Beckett, whom he knew in Paris.