Irish Poet Montague Reads His Latest Work

A bit of Ireland settled into the Adams House Senior Common Room yesterday as 30 people listened to Irish poet John Montague read 10 poems from his latest book, John Montague: Collected Poems.

The reading is just one stop on Montague's three-week tour of Ireland and the United States.

"[Montague is] certainly one of the leading poets writing in English in Ireland today, and furthermore one whose reputation has survived over a long number of years" Patrick Ford, head of the department of Celtic languages and literatures, said.

Montague read works on topics ranging from the political situation in Ireland to traditional Irish mythology. He also read some of his earlier love poetry.

Montague punctuated the readings with discussion of his work. He described the inspiration he draws from his relationship with the Irish language, calling Gaelic "a taproot" for his poetry.

He also discussed his impressions of the current John Keats exhibit, the history of the conflict in northern Ireland and the connection between poets of different centuries. He noted the subversive elements of successful Irish poets, and said that their mastery of English allowed them to "conquer the language of the conqueror."

After the reading. Montague said he hoped that listeners would "feel provoked and...think about poetry in general. Poetry is one of the few proofs that we have that we can make things that are permanent. People are born, people die. A really good poem seems to hold in."

The reading was sponsored by the department of Celtic literatures and languages and the department of English and American literatures and languages.

Montague's book, which the author describes as a "good representation" of his work, includes two selections which have never been published before in the United States, one of which has not been published previously. "I think what they tried to do was put [the poems] together so it seemed like a new book," he said.

Robinson Professor of Celtic Language Patrick K. Ford said, "It was a wonderful performance and clearly very much enjoyed by the audience."

The reading was followed by a reception in the Adams House Junior Common Room