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The Irish Times Reviews John Montague’s New Collection
John Montague, a Brooklyn-born Irish poet, has published a new book. The Irish Times reviewed New Collected Poems on Saturday, giving readers a brief history of Montague’s life and poetry and focusing on the themes that distinguish his work from other Irish poets.
…That widening of context, against the grain of what became, in Northern Irish poetry of the 1970s and 1980s, something of a self-preoccupation, may be what validates his work in the 21st century – less as an Ulster precursor and more, like Samuel Beckett, as an Irish universalist.
“All my life,” Beckett wrote in Molloy, “I had been bent on settling this matter between my mother and myself.” Such words could stand as an epigraph to much in this New Collected Poems – the circlings and returnings, in word and act, to Ireland as “the unresolved republic of pain”, to maternal absence, against a Tyrone landscape endlessly invoked, like Beckett’s Dublin hinterland. This thread, deliberately explored in The Dead Kingdom, leads back to abandonment as a Brooklyn infant, and some of the most harrowing, naked poems in the whole oeuvre.
Find the entire Irish Times article here.