John Montague Biography

John Montague

poet, writer
Born: 2/28/1929
Birthplace: Brooklyn, New York

One of Ireland's best-known poets, John Montague was born in New York. His father, an Ulster Catholic, moved his family there in the 1920s to escape capture for his Republican activities. At age 4, the young Brooklynite was returned to County Tyrone to live with two aunts. As a schoolboy Montague developed an interest in Irish poetry. His first poems were published when he was a student at University College Dublin in the 40s. In 1953, Montague, also a short story writer and critic of note, left Ireland for Yale on a Fulbright Fellowship. He returned in 1956 with his first wife to work at the Irish Tourist Office. His first collection, Poisoned Lands (1961), coincided with his move to Paris. Hymn to the New Omagh Road (1968) and The Bread God (1972) reflect his continued interest in Northern Ireland's affairs. After his long poem The Rough Field (1972) was published, Montague returned to Ireland with his second wife. He has taught in Berkeley, New York, Paris, and Ireland. In 1987, New York's then governor, Mario Cuomo, presented Montague with a citation for his literary achievements and contributions to the people of New York.

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