John Montague

[John Patrick Montague]; b. 28 Feb. 1929, St. Catherine’s Hosp., Bushwick Ave., Brooklyn; son of Molly (née Carney) and James Montague (‘lie still, difficult man’), formerly an IRA volunteer who fled to Brooklyn after involvement in ambushes and house-burning; also in New York, his uncle John, owner of a speak-easy; f. failed in business and became subway ticket collector, turning to alcohol; raised from 1933 [aetat. 4] by maiden aunts Brigid and Freda in Garvaghey [nr. Fivemiletown], Co. Tyrone; not joined by his mother on her return to Fintona; ed. Garvaghey Primary School, 1927; stammering triggered by humiliation at hands of Primary school-mistress; later ed. at Glencull Primary School, where he had an ardent school-teacher, and after that at St. Patrick’s College, Armagh, from age 11; entered UCD on County Council Scholarship, 1946; attended evening lectures given by Roger McHugh and heard Patrick Kavanagh speaking; encouraged by fell0ow-student writers incl. Thomas Kinsellato publish in  The Dublin MagazineEnvoy, and The Bell (ed. Peadar O’Donnell); won Radio Éireann Poetry Competition organised by Austin Clarke; appt. film critic for The Standard [Catholic weekly]; met Saul Bellow in Salzburg; kept “The Lost Notebook”, recording his relationship with Wendy Lang, a young American in Florence, lost and later published (‘in search of art and love, peregrinus hibernicus, a horn-mad celibate with a bright red comb and a roving eye’); contrib. ‘Contribution to the Young Writers’ Symposium’, in The Bell (June 1951);
contrib. ‘Tribute to Carleton’ to The Bell (April 1952); runner-up to John Jordan in Oxford Studentship; US-sponsored studentship to America; studied at Yale, 1953-54 on scholarship, arranged by US ambassador to Ireland William Howard Taft III, and discovered it to be an American Oxbridge (‘how much money does your father make?’); suffered partial mental breakdown, 1954; joined Iowa writers’ workshop on recommendation of John Crowe Ransom (Kenyon U.) and taught at Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Iowa U.); read Robert Creeley and others with enthusiasm; also influenced by Blackmur [Princeton] and Jarrell (N. Carolina); attended graduate school at Berkeley; present at first reading of Alan Ginsberg’s “Howl”; met Madeleine de Brauer [afterwards Mottuel] at Iowa U., where she was a Fulbright scholar; m. Oct. 1956, in Normandy; returned to Dublin with her, 1958; settled on Herbert St., nr. Brendan Behan - whom he memorialised as ‘trilingual bisexual’ in Company: A Chosen Life (2001); visited Mrs. Yeats at Palmerston Rd. after an introduction at the Shelbourne effected by Tom Parkinson; commenced work Bord Fáilte as proof-reader on Ireland of the Welcomes [tourist magazine] through the good offices of Roger McHugh (UCD), continuing as editor until 1960; commenced a dissertation on Goldsmith at UCD; supported by his wife, then working at the French embassy; published a first collection, Forms of Exile (1958), with Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press; was instrumental in founding Claddagh Records with Garech [Oranmore &] Brown, a scion of the Guinness family; read with Richard Murphy and Thomas Kinsella at Hibernian Hotel, 1961; appt. Paris correspondent to The Irish Times, living at 11 rue Daguerre (‘Rue Dageurre, how we searched / till we found it! Beyond / the blunt-pawed lion of Denfert’); encountered Beckett living nearby, and graduated to drinking companion; met Ionescu and others, 1961-63; issued Poisoned Lands (1961); ed., with Kinsella, Dolmen Miscellany of Irish Writing (1962);
contrib. “The Rough Field” to The Spectator (26 April 1963), an essay; taught at Poetry Workshop, Berkeley, 1964-65; his sexual relationships in ’60s America led to increasing estrangement from Madeleine, who remained on in Paris at rue Daguerre; issued Death of a Chieftain (1964), containing nine stories set in Ireland, Florence, Mexico and elsewhere; wrote “Patriotic Suite”, poems, rejected by Studies and published by Dolmen in 1966; arranged for Claddagh poetry recordings by Clarke, Kavanagh, Kinsella, Robert Graves, Seamus Heaney, Hugh MacDiarmid, and others; taught Anglo-Irish Literature at UCD while living at Anglesea Rd., Dublin; issued A Chosen Light (1967); gave the oration at the graveside of Patrick Kavanagh, reading his poems, 2 Dec. 1967 and publ. [do. as] ‘Tribute’ to Kavanagh in Irish Times (3 Dec. 1967); divided his time between Dublin and Paris; met Evelyn Robson, his second wife, in Paris 1968; read “A New Siege” [ded. Bernadette Devlin] outside Armagh Jail; appt. university lecturer at Experimental University of Vincennes, 1969-70; issued Tides (1970); conducted ‘The Planter and the Gael’ poetry tour in Northern Ireland with John Hewitt (Arts Council, 1970), later styled ‘a landmark affirmation of creative cultural diversity’ by Michael Longley (Tu’ppenny Stung); attended the funeral of Sean Ó Riada; issued The Rough Field (1972), the first of three ‘orchestrations’ exploring Ulster and family history, launched with reading at Peacock to music by The Chieftains (11 Dec. 1972);
m. Evelyn in Gloucester, Massachusetts, with whom two daughter, Sibyl and Oonagh (both born in Cork); appt. asst. lecturer at University College, Cork, 1972-88, under auspices of Seán Lucy; his teaching influence many younger poets and writers including Greg Delanty, Theo Dorgan, Sean Dunne, Gerry Murphy, Thomas McCarthy, Gregory O'Donoghue, Maurice Riordan, and William Wall; settled at Roche’s Point, Cork, 1972; suffered the death of his mother, Nov. 1973; invited Hugh MacDiarmid to read at UCC; loosely associated with the Inntí group of Gaelic poets; taught Theo Dorgan, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Greg O’Donoghue and Michael Davitt, all to become poets; ed. Faber Book of Irish Verse (1974), taking over the commission from Valentin Iremonger in 1967, ultimately appearing with an introduction entitled “In the Irish Grain”, after William Carlos Williams; issued A Slow Dance (1975); received Irish-American Cultural Foundation Award, 1976 ($4,000); issued enlarged edn. of Poisoned Lands (1977); awarded the Martin Toonder Award for Literature, 1977; contrib. to Poesie (Paris) [var. eds.]; taught at Univ. of Vermont, 1977; issued The Great Cloak (1978); became a fnd. member and first president of Poetry Ireland, 1979; awarded Guggenheim Scholarship, 1979-80 - enabling the completion of Selected Poems (1982); attended International Poetry Festival, Toronto, May 1981; acted as visiting professor, Sorbonne, 1982;
delivered “The Unpartitioned Intellect”, a keynote lecture, at ACIS Conference (Vermont 1982) - in contrast to Kinsella’s “The Divided Mind”; suffered arthritic attacks in 1982; travelled to India by invitation, 1984; issued The Dead Kingdom (1984); appt. Writer in Residence, State University of New York, Albany, and afterwards at Berkeley, 1985; passed summers in Mauriac; attended Poetry Conference, Florence, 1986; appt. Assoc. Prof., UCC; death of Liam Miller; sold his papers to Buffalo Library Archive, 1987; attended conference on Spirituality in India, 1987; appt. Distinguished Writer in Residence at the New York State Writers’ Institute, SUNY and awarded SUNY D.Litt, 1987; issued The Lost Notebook (1987), purportedly a ‘fictional memoir’ and erotic novel, and winner of first Hughes Award; resigned from UCC, 1988; marital break-up; translations by Deguy, Esteban, Marteau, et al.; last meeting with Samuel Beckett, 1989; ed. Bitter Harvest: An Anthology of Contemporary Irish Verse (1989); issued New Selected Poems (1989) and The Figure in the Cave and Other Essays (1989); published “Border Sick Call”, a long poem, in Fortnight Review (Oct. 1994), ending ‘but in what country have we been?’; appt. writer in residence at Writers’ Institute, NY State University; received Ireland Fund Literary Award, 1995;
issued Collected Poems (3 Oct. 1995), and nominated for Aristeion European Literary Prize; living in NY; hailed as ‘world-class poet’ by Carolyn Kier; divorced Evelyn; met Elizabeth Wassell at a reading in Lower Manhattan, New York - a young American student and later author of The Honey Plain (1996), a fictional study of Irish summer schools, &c.; issued A Love Present (1997), incl. shorter version of “The Lost Notebook”, with other stories; appointed to Ireland Chair of Poetry, a post supported by the Ireland Funds, 1998, and invested in Dublin; his inaugural lecture at QUB Belfast, 1998; issues new collection, Smashing the Piano (1999); issued Company: A Chosen Life, first of 2-vol. literary memoir to appear from Duckworth; issued The Drunken Sailor (2004); m. Wassell, at Nice Mairie [Town Hall], 8 July 2005, dividing their time between his West Cork farm-house and a garret apartment near the Gare in Nice (S. France); issued The Pear is Ripe (2007), memoirs of US, France and Cork in the 1960s; his collected stories published as A Ball of Fire (2008); divides time between France and Ireland; subject of Carleton Annual Summer School, 2009; in the same year a selection of his poems with commentaries by fellow-poets was published (Chosen Lights, 2009);
his address at the Irish Embassy, Rue Foch, [9] Oct. 2009, was interrupted by the announcement that Barack Obama had received the Nobel Peace Prize; received DLitt award of Univ. of Ulster, Summer 2009; Gallery issued a revised Collected Poems in June 2012; narrowly missed being present on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice when a demented Tunisian lorry-driver rampaged on the pavement, killing 86; went for elective surgery on a knotted colon to the Clinique Parc Impérial in Nice; developed fever and moved to life-support, 9 Dec.; d. early on Saturday morning, 10th Dec. 2016, [aetat. 87]; survived by his wife Elizabeth Wassell and dgs. Oonagh and Sybil; his funeral service held at the Newman University Chapel, St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin; there is a portrait by Edward Maguire and a ‘head’ [lithograph] by Louis le Brocquy. DIW DIL2 OCEL FDA HAM ORM OCIL

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Edward McGuire

Portrait by Edward McGuire

[ See Gallery of Montague Portraits - attached ]

Montague in Paris

[...] He first appears to have visited the French capital in the late 1940s. After having worked picking grapes in the vineyards of Champagne, he describes in his writing of cycling from there to Paris via Rheims with a friend from Derry. He was back in Paris again in 1950, armed with two addresses from Brendan Behan, “one intellectual, the other the patron of both a café and a bordel”. The latter address was put to good effect, with “M. Pierre”, who owned a café in the rue Jacob (6th arrondissement), conducting Montague and a Belgian client to a “‘good house’ where we got more than bed and board for a long weekend.” On this or another visit soon after, Montague caught up with Francis Stuart, then living in a chambre de bonne on the Avenue Breteuil. He also met up with Sinbad Vail, who had just published Brendan Behan’s story ‘After the Wake’ in Points magazine. (Interestingly, Montague tells us that Behan later repudiated this story because it exposed his liking for boys.)
 Montague met Madeleine de Brauer, “a titled young Frenchwoman with an eager grin and golden-brown eyes”, in Iowa in 1954. [...]

See John Montague at the “Irish in Paris” website; accessed 29.12.2012.
Montague in America

In 1953 Montague left for Yale on a Fulbright Fellowship. Having already met Saul Bellow at the Salzburg Seminar in American Studies, he now worked with Robert Penn Warren as well as auditing classes given by several Yale critics such as Rene Wellek and W. K. Wimsatt. He also attended Indiana Summer School of Letters where he heard Richard Wilbur, Leslie Fiedler, and John Crowe Ransom - who like the Irish poet Austin Clarke an and encouraged Montague, finding him a job at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1954 and 1955. From Iowa to Berkeley, a year of graduate school convinced Montague that he should return to Ireland - as he did in 1958.

Adapted from Wikipedia - online; accessed 02.08.2016.

Irish Times
An obituary tribute by numerous Irish writers including Eavan Boland, Gerald Dawe, Katie Donovan, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Peter Fallon, Adrian Frazier, Paul Muldoon, Thomas McCarthy, Peter Sirr, Clíona Ní Ríordáin, William Wall, was published in The Irish Times on the day of his death (Sat., 10 Dec. 2016) - online [accessed 11.12.2016.]

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  • Forms of Exile (Dublin: Dolmen 1958);
  • Three Irish Poets: John Montague, Thomas Kinsella, Richard Murphy [Royal Hibernian Hotel, 3 Feb. 1961] (Dolmen Press 1961) [ltd. edn. 250 copies];
  • Poisoned Lands and Other Poems (London: MacGibbon & Kee 1961; Chester Springs: Dufour 1963), Do., [rev. edn.] (Dublin: Dolmen 1977), and Do. [new edn.] (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP 1978), 63pp. [‘for Roger McHugh’];
  • Home Again (Belfast: Festival Publications 1966);
  • Patriotic Suite (Dublin: Dolmen 1966) [ltd. edn. 100 copies];
  • All Legendary Obstacles (Dolmen 1966) [ltd. edn., 350 copies];
  • A Chosen Light (London: MacGibbon & Kee 1967; Chicago: Swallow 1969), 69pp. [ill. Louis le Brocquy];
  • A New Siege (Dublin: Dolmen 1970), folder, 6pp.;
  • with John Hewitt, The Planter and the Gael (N. Ireland Arts Council 1970), 22pp.;
  • Tides (Dublin: Dolmen 1970; Chicago: Swallow 1971), 64pp.;
  • The Wild Dog Rose (London: MacGibbon & Kee 1970);
  • A Fair House: Version of Irish Poetry (Dublin: Cuala Press 1972) [prefaced by ‘On Translating Irish without Speaking It’];
  • The Rough Field 1961-1971 (Dublin: Dolmen 1972) [contents]; and Do. [rev edn.] (Salem: Wake Forest UP 1979), and Do. [reiss.] (Dublin: Dolmen; Belfast: Blackstaff 1984);
  • A Slow Dance (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP 1975), 63pp. [I. A Slow Dance; II [no sep. title]; III. The Cave of Light];
  • The Great Cloak (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP 1978), 63pp. [I. Search; II. Separation; III. Anchor];
  • The Dead Kingdom (Dublin: Dolmen 1984) [ltd. edn. 125 copies];
  • Do. (London: OUP; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP; Belfast: Blackstaff 1984);
  • Mount Eagle (Dublin: Gallery Press; Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Bloodaxe; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake UP 1988);
  • Time in Armagh (Dublin: Gallery 1993);
  • “Border Sick Call”, long poem by John Montague, in Fortnight Review (Oct. 1994), pp.48-49;
  • Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1995) [contents];
  • A Love Present (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1997), 160pp.;
  • Smashing the Piano (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1999) [contents];
  • Deities (NY: At-Swim Press [n.d.]), ill. Henry Pearson, calligraphy & design by Malachi McCormick [ltd. edn. 300 copies];
  • Drunken Sailor (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2004), 88pp. ;
  • Speech Lessons (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2011; Wake Forest University Press, Winston-Salem, 2012), 68pp.
Selected & collected (poetry)
  • Selected Poems (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP; Winston-Salem, NC: Wake Forest UP; Toronto: Exile Edns. 1982), 189pp. [ded. ‘for Barry Callaghan’; drawing by Louis le Brocquy];
  • New and Selected Poems, ed., Peter Fallon [with Dillon Johnston] (Dublin: Gallery Press 1989), 79pp.;
  • The Love Poems ([Dublin: Gallery Press] 1992);
  • Selected Poems (London: Penguin 2001), 232pp.;
  • Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2012), 544pp.
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  • Death of A Chieftain (MacGibbon & Kee 1964; rev. ed., Dolmen 1977), and Do. [rep edn.] (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1998), 168pp.;
  • The Lost Notebook (Dublin: Mercier 1987), short stories [var. novella of tempestuous lover-affair with American paintress], 96pp., ill. John Verling;
  • A Love Story and Other Stories ([] 1997);
  • A Ball of Fire: Collected Stories (Dublin: Liberties Press 2008), 288pp.
  • Company: A Chosen Life (London: Duckworth 2001), 190pp.
  • The Pear is Ripe (Dublin: Liberties 2007), 256pp.
Criticism, &c.
  • ‘Fellow-Travelling with America’, in The Bell, 17, 3 (June 1951), pp.25-38;
  • ‘The Irish Writer, in The Bell, 17 (October 1951), 5-12;
  • ‘The Sentimental Prophecy: A Study of “The Deserted Village”’, in Dolmen Miscellany of Irish Writing, eds., Montague & Thomas Kinsella (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1962), pp.62-80, and Do. [rep. in] Swarbrick, ed., Oliver Goldsmith (1984), pp.90-107;
  • John Montague et al., A Tribute to Austin Clarke on His Seventieth Birthday (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1966), 27pp.;
  • ‘Seamless Garment and the Muse,’ in Agenda, 5, 4 (Autumn/Winter 1966-1967), pp.27-34;
  • “A Tribute to Patrick Kavanagh”, in The Irish Times (2 Dec. 1967) [as attached]
  • ‘The Impact of International Poetry on Irish Writing’, in Sean Lucy, ed., Irish Poets in English (Cork: RTÉ/Mercier Press 1973), pp.144-58 [rep. in The Figure in the Cave and Other Essays, Syracuse UP 1989, pp.208-20; as attached];
  • ‘Barrie Cooke’ [exhib. notice], in Brian O‘Doherty, The Irish Imagination 1959-1971 [Rosc Exhib. Cat.] (1971);
  • John Montague, ‘Collecting Kavanagh’, Irish Times (5 & 8 Feb. 1980), [q.pp.];
  • ‘Living for Ireland’, in Dermot Bolger, ed., Letters from the New Island, 16 on 16: Irish Writers on the Easter Rising (Dublin: Raven Arts Press 1988), pp.17-19;
  • Born in Brooklyn (Fredonia, NY: White Pine 1991); ‘History Walk’ [prose], in Poetry Ireland (Summer 1993), pp.77-78;
  • ‘The Bag Apron: The Poet and his Community’ [Professor of Poetry Inaugural at QUB Nov. 1998], in Fortnight [‘Literature Special’] (Jan. 1999), pp.19-22;
  • Preface to Benedict Kiely, A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp.xii-xiv;
  • Antoinette Quinn, ed., The Figure in the Cave and Other Essays (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1989; Syracuse UP 1989; ), 228pp. [see contents].
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  • “Small secrets” in Poem of the Month Club (1970-77), Third Folio.
  • contrib. to Agenda [William Cookson, ed., “Rhythm issue”] 10/4 - 11/1 (London 1973) [and subsequently the subject of a special 75th birthday tribute issue of Agenda, 2004].;
  • ed., The Faber Book of Irish Verse (London: Faber & Faber 1974), with preface ‘In the Irish Grain’ [after William Carlos Williams]; reiss. as The Book of Irish Verse (NY: Macmillan 1976; rev. edn. 1988);
  • Eugene Guillevic [d.1999], Carnac, trans. John Montague (Newcastle Upon Tyne: Bloodaxe 1999);
  • Letter to the Editor [response to Eileen Battersby’s feature-article on Francis Stuart], in The Irish Times (3 Feb. 2000) [see extract];
  • ‘Is Aosdana Worth Joining?’, in The Irish Times (21 Dec. 2001);
  • review of Richard Murphy, The Kick [autobiog.], in The Irish Times, Weekend (24 Aug. 2002) [infra];
  • ‘A Towering inferno’, review of Ciaran Carson, The Inferno of Dante Alighieri: A New Translation (Granta), in The Irish Times ( 23 Nov. 2002 ) [see extract].
  • [with Paul Durcan & Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill,] The Poet’s Chair: The First Nine Years of the Ireland Chair of Poetry, pref. Seamus Heaney; afterword Donal Deeney (Dublin: Lilliput Press 2008), 280pp. [‘The Bag Apron’, ‘Short Thoughts on the Long Poem’ and ‘Words and Music’].
  • ‘Pictures of a poetic period’, review of Helen Carr, The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, HD, and The Imagist, in The Irish Times (4 July 2010), Weekend, p.12;
  • review of The Letters of T. S. Eliot, Vol. 2, ed. Valerie Elito and Hugh Haughton, in The Irish Times (18 Dec. 2009), Weekend, p.10.
  • ‘A Gnostic Swansong’, review of The Anatomy of Influence: Literature as a Way of Life, by Harold Bloom, in The Irish Times (6 Aug. 2011), Weekend Review, p. 12 [memoir of his own time at Yale at acquaintance with Bloom, et al., in 1953-54];
  • ‘A Poet Pursued by Death’, review of John Keats, by Nicholas Roe, in The Irish Times (20 Oct. 2011), Weekend Review, p. 13.

See also his contribution to Pat Boran, ed., Watching the River Flow: A Century of Irish Poetry [1999], updated in Flowing, Still : Irish Poets on Irish Poetry (Dublin: Dedalus Press 2009).

  • The Northern Muse, Seamus Heaney and John Montague Reading their Own Poems Claddagh Records (CCT 4 Belfast; Dublin: Claddagh Records 1968) [with author’s sleeve notes];
  • The Rough Field (Claddagh Records [q.d.]), 2 CDs recorded at Chalk Farm; spoken by Benedict Kiely, Patrick Magee, Seamus Heaney, Tom McGurk and Montague (‘some of the more intimate poems’); the whole called an ‘orchestration of personal and tribal themes’ (Liam Miller, obit. 1987).

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Bibliographical details
The Rough Field 1961-1971
(Dublin: Dolmen 1972) [I. Home Again; II. The Leaping Fire; III. The Bread God. IV. A Severed Head; V. The Fault; VI. A Good Night. VII. Hymn to the New Omagh Road; VIII. Patriotic Suite. IX. A New Siege. X. The Wild Dog Rose, i.m. Minnie Kearney].

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The Figure in the Cave and Other Essays (Dublin: Lilliput Press 1989), 228pp., [ded. ‘For Mark and Tom’]. CONTENTS, Preface [ix]; The Figure in the Cave [1]; Tyrone: The Rough Field [23]; The War Years in Ulster [27]; The Unpartitioned Intellect [36]; Notes and Introductions: i. A Primal Gaeltacht [42]; ii. I Also Had Music [45]; iii. A Note on Rhythm [48]; iv. Tides [49]; v. On Translating Irish, Without Speaking It [50]; vi. A Slow Dance [52]; vii. Poisoned Lands [53]; viii. The Rough Field [55]; ix. The Dead Kingdom [56]; II: Oliver Goldsmith: The Sentimental Prophecy [61]; William Carleton: The Fiery Gift [78]; George Moore: The Tyranny of Memory [86]; James Joyce: Work Your Progress [98]; Samuel Beckett: Spoiled Hermit [104]; In the Irish Grain [109]; Louis MacNeice: Despair and Delight [127]; Kinsella’s Clarke [133]; Patrick Kavanagh: A Speech from the Dock [136]; John Hewitt: Regionalism into Reconciliation [147]; Hugh MacDiarmid: The Seamless Garment and the Muse [154]; III: The Young Irish Writer and The Bell [167]; Fellow Travelling with America [174]; American Pegasus [188]; John Berryman: Henry in Dublin [200]; The Impact of International Modern Poetry on Irish Writing [208]; Biographical Notes [221]; Acknowledgments [227]. Bibl. of Sources (Acknowledgements), ‘Tyrone: The Rough Field’: The Spectator (26 April 1963; rep. in Conor Cruise O’Brien Introduces Ireland André Deutsch 1969); ‘The War Years in Ulster’, in The Honest Ulsterman, 64 (Sept. 1979-Jan. 1980); ‘The Unpartitioned Intellect’, in Masaru Sekine, ed., Irish Writers and Society at Large [Irish Literary Studies, No. 22] (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1985); ‘A Primal Gaeltacht’: The Irish Times (30 July 1970), as ‘An Gaeltacht Inniu’; ‘I Also Had Music’, originally for Hibernia in 1971, issued as ‘A Note on Rhythm’ in Agenda, 10 (Autumn-Winter 1972-73); ‘Tides’, in The Poetry Book Society Bulletin, Autumn 1970; ‘On Translating Irish without Speaking It’, Preface to A Fair House: Versions of Irish Poetry (Dublin: Cuala Press 1972); ‘A Slow Dance’, in The Poetry Book Society Bulletin (Winter 1975); ‘Poisoned Lands’, Introduction to Poisoned Lands [2nd edn.] (Dublin: Dolmen; Oxford OUP 1977); ‘The Rough Field’, Preface to The Rough Field [3rd edn.](Dublin: Dolmen; Belfast: Blackstaff Press; Wake Forest UP 1979); ‘The Dead Kingdom’, in The Poetry Book Society Bulletin (Spring 1984); ‘Oliver Goldsmith: The Sentimental Prophecy’, in Montague and Thomas Kinsella, eds., The Dolmen Miscellany of Irish Writing (Dublin: Dolmen 1962), also a shortened version in Andrew Swarbrick, ed., The Art of Oliver Goldsmith (NJ: Barnes & Noble 1984); ‘William Carleton: The Fiery Gift’, in The Bell (April 1952) [pp.13-21]; ‘George Moore: The Tyranny of Memory’, in The Bell (August 1951); ‘James Joyce, in Work Your Progress’, in Irish University Review, Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 1982), based on speech at launch of Hermathena special Samuel Beckett’s eightieth birthday issue (9 Dec. 1986); ‘In the Irish Grain’, Preface to The Faber Book of Insh Verse (1974); ‘Louis MacNeice: Despair and Delight’, in Terence Brown & Alec Reid, eds., Time Was Away: The World of Louis MacNeice (Dublin: Dolmen 1974; ‘Kinsella’s Clarke’, in The Irish Times (17 July 1976); ‘Patrick Kavanagh: A Speech from the Dock’, in The Irish Times (5 & 8 July 1980) [as ‘Collecting Kavanagh’]; ‘Regionalism into Reconciliation’, in Poetry Ireland, 3 (Spring 1964); ‘Hugh MacDiarmid, in The Seamless Garment and the Muse’, in Agenda, 5 (1967). p.68; ‘The Young Writer and The Bell’, in The Bell (October 1951), as ‘Contribution to the Young Writers’ Symposium’; ‘Fellow Travelling with America’, in The Bell (June 1951); ‘American Pegasus’, in Studies (Summer 1959); ‘John Berryman: Henry in Dublin’, in Hibernia (24 May 1974), as ‘John Berryman’s Exile: Memoir of the American Poet in Dublin’; ‘The Impact of International Modern Poetry on Irish Writing’, in Sean Lucy, ed., Irish Poets in English (Cork: Mercier Press 1973) [pp.144-158]. Note remark: ‘Most of the above essays and reviews have been modified or amended for this volume [... &c.]’

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Smashing the Piano (Gallery Press 1999), 84pp.] CONTENTS: Paths [11]; Within [13]; Fairy Fort (for Ben Simmons) [15]; Still Life, with Aunt Brigid [17]; Kindertotenlieder [Time Off 18; Crossroads 19]; Prayers for My Daughters [Le Bain, 22; Guardians, 23; Last Chance, 24; The Sick Bird, 25]; Between (for Michael Viney) [27]; The Current [29]; Dark Rooms [Wrath, 32; Nightjar, 32; Lying Figure, 33; Stand In, 33; The Blade, 34; Postscript, 34; Chain Letter, 35]; Honey Harvest [36]; Brighid O’Neill [38]; Talking with Victor Hugo, in Old Age [39]; There are Days [40]; Dumbshow [41]; Poor Poll [42]; Captain Greacen [43]; The Yachtsman’s Jacket [44]; Claddagh Raga [46]; Robert, Old Stager [47]; Summer School [48]; In the Pool [49]; A New Art [50]; On Hearing Kamaladevi Speak Again [51]; Araby, 1984 [52]; Sun Hymn [53]; A Charm for Europe [55]; Sonnet on the Opening of Wrixon’s Wine Cellar [57]; The Two Seáns [Seán Ó Ríordáin, 58; Seán Ó Riada, 59]; Sweet & Sour [60]; Starspill [61]; Raptors [Conservatives, 62; Nature, 62; Balor, 63]; Remission [65]; Flower, Stone, Sea [The Smell of the Earth, 66; Flowers, 67; At Teilhard de Chardin’s Grave, 68; Lullaby, 69; The Well-wrought Urn, 69]; The Family Piano [70]; Looking Glass [72]; The Straying Blackthorn [73]; Civil Wars [Unapproved, 74; Internment, 75; Shadow, 75; Sands, 76; Place Names, 76; Weeds, 76; A Response to Omagh, 77; Sunny Jim, 77]; Magic Carpet [79]; Lost Worlds [81]; Landing [82]. Acknowledgements and Notes 84. [Epigraph, ’Twixt two extremes of passion, joy and grief.’ - King Lear, V, iii; also, the lines [above:] ‘Fierce lyric truth, / Sought since youth, / Grace my ageing / As you did my growing, / Till time engraves / My final face.’

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Collected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1995), 376pp. CONTENTS [by collections]. PART 1: The Rough Field (1972) [3]; The Great Cloak (1978) [83]; The Dead Kingdom (1984) [125]. PART 2: Forms of Exile (1958) & Poisoned Lands (1961, 1977). A Chosen Light (1967) [211]; Tides (1971) [240] A Slow Dance (1975) [257]; Mount Eagle (1989) [295]. PART 3: Time in Armagh (1993) [329]. Border Sick Call (1995) [345]. Editors’; Note [359]; Index of Titles [361]; Index of First Lines [369]. For detailed account of contents, see attached.

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  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ed., Hillfield: Poems and Memoirs for John Montague on his Sixtieth Birthday (Minneapolis: Coffee House; Dublin: Gallery 1989) [q.pp.].
  • Thomas Redshaw Dillon, ed., Well Dreams: Essays on John Montague (Creighton UP 2004), 456pp., ill. [8pp. b&w] [contribs. incl. Dillon Johnston, J. W. Foster, Eamonn Wall, Patrick Crotty, et al.].
Articles & chapters
  • John Cronin, ‘Prose’, in Causeway: The Arts in Ulster, ed. Michael Longley (Belfast Arts Council 1971), pp.72-94, espec. p.81.
  • D. E. S. Maxwell, ‘The Poetry of John Montague’, in Critical Quarterly, 15 (Summer 1973), pp.180-85.
  • Sean Lucy, ‘Three Poets from Ulster’, in Irish University Review, 3, 2 (Summer 1973), pp.180-85.
  • Geoffrey Grigson, review of Montague, ed., Faber Book of Irish Verse, in The Irish Times (1 March 1974) [see extract].
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘John Montague’s The Rough Field: Topos and Texne’, in Studies, 61 (Spring 1974), pp.31-46.
  • Terence Brown, ‘John Montague, Circling to Return’, in Northern Voices, Poets from Ulster (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1975), pp.149-70 [see extract].
  • Frank Kersnowski, John Montague [The Irish Writers Series] (Lewisburg: Bucknell UP 1975), 73pp. [see note];
  • Edna Longley, ‘Searching the Darkness: The Poetry of Richard Murphy, Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, and James Simmons’ in Douglas Dunn, ed., Two Decades of Irish Writing (Manchester: Carcanet 1975), pp.118-53.
  • John Wilson Foster, ‘The Landscape of the Planter and the Gael in the Poetry of John Hewitt and John Montague’, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 1, 2 (Nov. 1975), pp.17-33.
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘John Montague: Dancer in a Rough Field’, in The Hollins Critic (December 1978), [q.pp.], rep. in ‘A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp.119-23.
  • Adrian Frazer, ‘Global Regionalism’ [interview with Motague], in Literary Review, 22, 2 (Winter 1979), pp.153-44.
  • Timothy Kearney, ‘Beyond the Planter and the Gael’ [interview with Hewitt and Montague], Crane Bag, 4, 2 (1980/1), pp.85-92.
  • A. K. Weatherhead, ‘John Montague: Exiled from Order’, in Concerning Poetry, 14, 2 (Fall 1981), pp.97-101.
  • Adrian Frazier, ‘John Montague’s Language of the Tribe’, in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 9, 2 (1983), pp.57-75.
  • Graham Martin, ‘John Montague, Seamus Heaney, and the Irish Past’, in Boris Ford, ed., New Pelican Guide to English Literature: The Present (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1983), pp.380-84
  • Mark J. Waaelder, ‘Anno Montague’, Threshold, 34 (Winter 1983/1984), pp.44-45 [with new poems by Montague, ‘A Christmas Card’ (p.44), ‘The Flowering Absence’; ‘The Locket’ (p.48)]
  • Seamus Deane, ‘John Montague: The Kingdom of the Dead’, in Celtic Revivals: Essays in Modern Irish Literature 1880-1980 (London: Faber 1985), pp.146-55.
  • Dillon Johnston, ‘Devlin and Montague’, in Irish Poetry After Joyce (Notre Dame UP 1985), pp.167-203.
  • Robert F. Garratt, ‘Poetry at Mid-Century II: John Montague’, in Modern Irish Poetry: Tradition and Continuity from Yeats to Heaney (California UP 1986), pp.198-229.
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘The Bounding Line: John Montague’s A New Siege’, in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 13, 1 (June 1987), pp.76-105.
  • Aidan Higgins, ‘Paradiddle and Paradigm’, in Irish Review, 5 (Autumn 1988), pp.116-18.
  • Christopher Murray, ed., Irish University Review [“Special John Montague Number”], 19, 1 (Spring 1989) [incls. Denis O’Driscoll, ‘Interview with John Montague’; Antoinette Quinn, ‘“The Well-Beloved”: Montague and the Muse’].
  • Michael Allen, ‘Celebrations’, review of Mount Eagle,in Irish Review, 7 (1989), pp.97-102.
  • Robin Skelton, ‘John Montague and the Divided Inheritance’, in Celtic Contraries (Syracuse UP 1990), pp.225-46.
  • Gerald Dawe, ‘Invocation of Powers’ John Montague’, in Neil Corcoran, ed., The Chosen Ground: Essays on the Contemporary Poetry of Northern Ireland (Brigend, Mid Glamorgan: Seren Books
  • Dufour 1992), pp.15-32, rep. in Against Piety: Essays in Irish Poetry (Belfast: Lagan Press 1995), pp.127-44 [see extract].
  • Mary O’Donnell, ‘Montague’s Love Poems’ [ review of Love Poems], in Poetry Ireland (Winter 1992-93), pp.51-59 [see extract].
  • Richard Bizot, ‘A Sense of Places, Exile, Migration, and the Homing Instinct in the Life and Poetry of John Montague’, in Éire-Ireland, 29 (Spring 1993) [q.p.].
  • Elizabeth Grubgeld, ‘Matriarchs, Mothergoddesses, and the Poetry of John Montague’, in Études-Irlandaises, XVIII, 2 (Dec. 1993), pp.69-83.
  • Paul Bowers, ’John Montague and William Carlos Williams: Nationalism and Poetic Construction’, Canadian Journal of Irish Studies, 20, 2 (Dec. 1994), pp.29-44.
  • Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry (Belfast: Blackstaff 1995), p.4 [see extract].
  • Brian Lynch, ‘The Breaker of Moulds’, review of Collected Poems, in The Irish Times [Weekend] (11 Nov. 1995).
  • Theo Dorgan, ‘But in What Country Have We Been?’, review of Collected Poems, in Sunday Independent (31 Dec. 1995), Living, p.8L [see extract].
  • Stan Smith , review of Collected Poems, in Irish Studies Review (Spring 1996), p.53 [see extract].
  • Steven Mathews, ‘On Family Ground’, review of Collected Poems, in Times Literary Suppliment (2 Aug. 1996), p.25 [see extract].
  • John Wilson Foster, ‘The Landscape of Three Irelands: Hewitt, Murphy and Montague’, Contemporary Irish Poetry: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. in Elmer Andrews (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1996), pp.145-68.
  • Steven Matthews, ‘A Failure to Return: John Montague’s The Rough Field’ [chap.], in Irish Poetry: Politics, History, Negotiation: The Evolving Debate 1969-Present (Basingstoke: Macmillan 1996) [q.pp.].
  • Patrick Crotty, ‘Cunning Ampersands’, review of Collected Poems, in Irish Review (Winter/Spring 1997), pp.136-43 [see extract].
  • Seamus Heaney, ‘Northern Star’ [Montague at 70], in Magill (Feb. 1998), ‘Review’, p.44 [see extract].
  • Thomas Dillon Redshaw, ‘Abstracting Icons: The Graphic Ornamentation of John Montague’s The Rough Field (1972) and The Dead Kingdom (1984)’, in South Carolina Review, “Ireland in the Arts and Humanities, 1899-1999” [Special Issue], 32, 1 (Fall 1999) , q.pp.
  • Robert Welch, The Structure Of Process: John Montague’s Poetry (Coleraine: Cranagh Press 1999), 17pp.
  • David Wheatley, ‘Still in the Swim’, [interview], Books Ireland (Feb. 2000), pp.5-6 [see extract].
  • Bernard O’Donoghue, review of John Montague, Company: A Chosen Life (London: Duckworth 2001), in The Irish Times, Weekend (23 June 2001) [see extract]
  • Kevin Kiely, review of John Montague, Company: A Chosen Life (London: Duckworth 2001), in Books Ireland (Dec. 2001), p.324 [see extract]
  • Peter Reading, ‘Travels and travails’, review of John Montague, Company: A Chosen Life, and Augustus Young, Light Years, in Times Literary Supplement (12 April 2002) [see extract].
  • homas Dillon Redshaw, ‘Patrimony: On the tête coupée in John Montague’s The Rough Field’, in Language and Tradition in Ireland: ‘Continuities and Displacements, ed. Maria Tymoczko & Colin Ireland (Massachusetts UP/ ACIS 2003) [chap.], q.pp.;
  • Agenda [75th Birthday Supplement for John Montague] (2004) and Peter Sirr, ‘Always travelling, meeting, parting’, review of Do.,in The Irish Times (7 Aug. 2004), “Weekend” [see extract].
  • John Greening, ‘The Glitter of Decay’, review of Drunken Soldier, in Times Literary Supplement ( 21 Jan. 2005 ), p.9 [see extract].
  • [Shirley Kelly,] ‘Don’t Knock Cork[,] or Else’ [ interview-article], in Books Ireland (Oct. 2007), pp.206-07 [see extract].
  • Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, ‘John Montague: Global Regionalist?’, in Writing Home: Poetry and Place in Northern Ireland, 1968-2008 (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer 2008), pp.53-82.
  • Maurice Harmon, ‘Making a Tricky Transition’, review of A Fall of Fire: Collected Stories, in The Irish Times (14 March 2009), Weekend, p.13 [see extract].
  • Montague, with others, Chosen Lights (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 2009), 152pp. [sel. poems with commentaries by fellow-poets].
See also Patricia McCarthy, ed., Agenda, 40, 1-3, “Irish Issue” ([Aug.] 2004); John Brown, In the Chair: Interview with Poets from the North of Ireland (Galway: Salmon Press 2002); Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, Writing Home: Poetry and Place in Northern Ireland, 1968-2008 (Woodbridge: D. S. Brewer 2008), xii, 306pp.
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By the same author: Frank Kersnowski, The Outsiders: Poets of Contemporary Ireland [Texas Christian University Monographs in History & Culture, 12] (Texas Christian UP [1975]), viii, 201pp.


Ulster Poetry Symposium:
An event in the Ulster Symposium was held on 9-10 Sept. 2004, commencing with a keynote lecture by Patrick Crotty (‘How the Sailor Got Drunk: The Poetry of John Montague 1958-2004’), and followed by contributions of the panel speakers Peter Denman (‘“The Emerging Body”: From Forms of Exile, 1958., to The Great Cloak, 1978’), Thomas Dillon Redshaw (‘Undertow: the Unpublished Dolmen Editionof John Montague’s Tides’); Michael McAteer (‘From The Great Hunger to The Rough Field: Kavanagh and Montague and the Ideology of Form’); Robin Marsh (‘Hewitt, Montague and Regionalism’); David Gardiner (‘The Last Bard of the O’Neills: An Epid Poet in a Lyric World’); Michael Parker (‘Startin from Home: Place and Politics in John Montague’s Poetry’) and John Goodby (‘John Montague’s Criticism and Fiction’). The Symposium was organised and chaired by Elmer Kennedy-Andrews, Univ. of Ulster [email].

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Geoffrey Grigson
Maurice Harmon
Terence Brown
Frank Kersnowski
Michael Allen
Gerard Dawe
Patrick Crotty
Seamus Heaney
Mary O’Donnell
Theo Dorgan
Stan Smith
Steven Mathews
John Goodby
David Wheatley
Bernard O’Donoghue
Kevin Kiely
Peter Reading
John Greening
... et al.

Helena Sheehan
, Irish Television Drama: A Society and its Stories (RTE 1987), lists Montague, A Change of Management, a TV film adapted by Eugene McCabe and dir. by Jim Fitzgerald (1970).

Peter Fallon & Seán Golden, ed, Soft Day, A Miscellany of Contemporary Irish Writing (Dublin: Wolfhound; Indiana: Notre Dame UP 1980), “Dowager”; “The Errigal Road”; “Caught”; “Pastourelle”; “Herbert Street Revisited”.

Andrew Carpenter &Peter Fallon, eds., The Writers: A Sense of Place (Dublin: O’Brien Press 1980), incls. [prose-]extract with photo-port.

Maurice Harmon, ed., Irish Poetry After Yeats: Seven Poets (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1979), incls. selection & woodcuts.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 3, selects poems from Forms of Exile; Poisoned Lands; The Rough Field; A Slow Dance, and The Great Cloak [BIOG, 1432].

Patrick Crotty, ed., Modern Irish Poetry: An Anthology (Belfast: Blackstaff Press 1995), selects “Like Dolmens Round My Childhood, the Old People” [179]; “The Trout” [180]; “A Drink of Milk” [181]; from A Chosen Light, 1: “11 rue Daguerre” [182]; “Family Conference” [183]; “The Same Gesture” [183]; “Last journey” [184]; “Small Secrets” [185]; “Dowager” [187]; from The Cave of Night, III: “Cave” [188]; “Herbert Street Revisited” [188].

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Catalogues & Booksellers
Books in Print (1994): Forms of Exile (Dublin: Dolmen 1958), 24pp.; Poisoned Lands (London: MacGibbon & Kee 1961; Chester Springs: Dufour 1963), rev. ed. (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP 1977) [BNB 1978] [0 85105 319 X; 0 19 211869 2; 0 85105 337 8]; Death of A Chieftain and Other Stories (MacGibbon & Kee 1964; rev. ed., Dolmen 1977; Poolbeg 1978), 168pp. [0 905169 11 5]; Patriotic Suite (Dublin: Dolmen 1966); A Chosen Light (MacGibbon & Kee 1967); The Bread God, a lecture with illustrations in verse on the recent history of the church in the ancient parish of Errigal Kieran already referred to in the Annals of the Four Masters as being a monastic centre 12 centuries ago (Dublin: Dolmen 1968), xipp. [Dolmen eds. No. 7] [0 85105 000 X]; A New Siege (Dublin: Dolmen 1970), folder, 6pp., ill. [port.] [0 85105 176 6]Tides (Dublin: Dolmen 1970) [1 9647 582 1]; The Rough Field (Dublin: Dolmen 1972); rev. ed. (N. Carolina: Wake Forest UP 1979); rep. (Dublin: Dolmen; Belfast: Blackstaff 1984) [0 85105 313 X]; The Planter and the Gael (N. Ireland Arts Council 1970) [with John Hewitt]; A Slow Dance (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP 1975) [0 85105 283 5; and 0/1 19211857 9]; The Great Cloak (Dublin: Dolmen 1978) [0 85105 426 9]; Selected Poems (Dublin: Dolmen; London: OUP; N. Carolina: Wake Forest UP 1982) [0 19211 850 8]; The Dead Kingdom (Dublin: Dolmen; Belfast: Blackstaff 1984) [0 85105 395 5]; The Lost Notebook (Cork: Mercier 1987) [0 85342 832 8; 831 X hb.]; Mount Eagle (Dublin: Gallery Press 1988) [BNB Portlaoise] [0/1 85235 030 X]; New and Selected Poems (Oldcastle: Gallery Press 1989) 79pp. [ISBN I 85235 040 7 pb. 041 5 cloth.];

Emerald Isle Books (Catalogue No. 95) lists Patriotic Suite (Dublin: Dolmen 1966), ltd. edn. 100 copies [£75].

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Variant printing:
The Dolmen 1979 reset edn. of The Rough Field bears cover-picture designed by Liam Miller, showing selected text wrapped round Derricke’s Elizabethan woodcut, thus: ‘old moulds are broken in the north / In the dark streets firing starts.’

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill writes in answer to Anne Stevenson’s criticisms of Eavan Boland’s assertion that women are excluded in Irish tradition, where Stevenson cited a verbal report from Montague that ‘women poets had never been discriminated against in Ireland. Many of the greatest poets in Irish had been women’. To this Ní Dhomhnaill answers that ‘either Montague was having a joke at Anne Stevenson’s expense, or there was something infinitely more subtle and sinister going on that is, the lavish overpraising of mythical women poets of some great prelapsa talk about the contrary effect of Montague’s Faber Book of Irish Verse on Stevenson. (See Ní Dhomhnaill, ‘What Foremothers?’, in Theresa O’Connor, ed., The Comic Tradition in Irish Women Writers (Florida UP 1996), pp.8-20; p.9). [See Anne Stevenson’s, ‘Inside and Outside History’, in PN Review, 18, No. 3 (Jan.-Feb. 1992), pp.34-38.]

Herman Hesse is quoted epigraphically in “The Silver Flask” [sect.], The Dead Kingdom (1984): ‘Everything that is not suffered to the end and finally concluded, recurs, and the same sorrows are undergone.’ See Collected Poems (1995), p.161.

Distinguished professor : Montague appears to so describes himself as in his Introduction to Michael O’Sullivan, The Physics of Parting (Bristol: Cloverdale Corp. 1993).

Michael Longley, Snow Water (London: Jonathan Cape 2004), contains a poem, “The Pear”, dedicated to Montague.

Montague in New York - Jim Mulvaney wrote on the day of Montague’s death:

‘My dear friend. In the 1980s I did a Newsday story on John’s search for his Brooklyn roots (a clipping washed away by Hurricane Sandy, alas). I dragged John to eyeball his uncle’s former speakeasy that had turned into an orthodox Jewish prayer room. We were staring through the basement window at the davaning Hasids when a uniformed NYPD officer put an unexpected hand on John’s shoulder as if he were a threat. “What do you think you’re doing?” the cop demanded. “Visiting my childhood,” John said. “Okay then,” the cop said. “Don’t get carried away.”
“They seem to be enjoying themselves,” said John, pointing through the window. “Chanting and moving like mourners at a dolmen, an Irish wake without the whiskey.#148
“Takes all kinds,” the cop said,shuffling off.’
—Given on Facebook - 11.12.2016.

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