John Montague (1929-2016)

John MontagueI only just learned of the death in December of the wonderful Irish poet John Montague. He was born in Brooklyn but sent back during the Depression to live in Co. Tyrone in Northern Ireland. He seems to have known everyone (living a few doors down from Brendan Behan, drinking with Samuel Beckett, schoolmate of Thomas Kinsella, student or colleague or friend of Saul Bellow, Robert Penn Warren, W. K. Wimsatt, Rene Wellek). His early long poem, The Rough Field, went through many editions over the years, and his first book of stories, The Death of a Chieftain, gave a bunch of up-and-coming Trad musicians the name of their group, The Chieftains. And, as you can see, he looks exactly the way you would have an Irish poet look if you made him up.