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A Spell to Bless the Silence
A Spell to Bless the Silence

A Spell to Bless the Silence

Selected Poems


280 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper, EPUB, Mobipocket

Trade Paper, $19.95 (US $19.95) (CA $26.95)

Publication Date: November 2018

ISBN 9781930630857

Rights: US & CA

Wake Forest University Press (Nov 2018)


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As one of the groundbreaking poets from Ulster, John Montague was significant in the development of postwar Irish, British, and American poetry. His early poems reflect the political and sectarian divide of his native County Tyrone, explore his Catholic upbringing, and moving record a ritualized lifestyle that in Ireland has been fast fading from view. In later years, Montague's American and European interests became as apparent as his Irish ones, making him a bridge to the younger generation of Irish poets. Undertaken by Montague and Elizabeth Wassell prior to the poet's death in December 2016, this selection includes work from fourteen volumes written over more than fifty years. With a preface by Wassell


"A Spell to Bless the Silence is a wonderful tribute to one of the great voices of our times. John Montague's voice prevails. He is a poet who continually captured the moment of the thorn when it entered the skin. He taught us, then, how to salve and heal." —Colum McCann  

 "Here is a generous selection that shows all the depth and range of John Montague's poetry: the richness of language, the intense, living awareness that makes his work such a pleasure to discover or to revisit. Celebrations of passionate experience, meditations on family, on Irish history and society, literary adventures, all figure in his poems, all belong naturally to his poetic voice. This posthumous book demonstrates the brilliance and the fidelity he brings to his themes, but it also lets us see how the poet, so often apparently preoccupied by the personal, comes out on grave occasions with notable public statements, from the impatient ironies of The Rough Field in the 1960s, on the Northern Troubles, to the magisterial humanity of the unforgettable Border Sick Call from the years of the re-establishment of peace." —Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin  

"A towering and charismatic presence in Irish poetry for over half a century, John Montague was one of the key voices of the post-Yeatsean era. He was our first great poet of Ulster memory, Ulster family, exile, yearning, and conflict. This shrewd and generous selection from his life's work will give a new generation of readers a real sense of his fabulous voice and his enduring importance. A poet lives most truly in his work and the maestro Montague lives passionately in these pages." —Thomas McCarthy  

Author Biography

John Montague was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1929. He was educated at University College, Dublin, where he received his BA and MA degrees. In 1955 he received an MFA from the University of Iowa. He has received many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the author of numerous collections and an editor of anthologies. He has also published a book of stories, Berkeley's Telephone and Other Fictions (Lilliput Press, 2000). Wake Forest is the publisher of his last ten volumes, including his most recent, Speech Lessons (2012).