Smashing the Piano

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Smashing the Piano suggests the full range of John Montague’s styles, subjects and concerns. It includes sequences which explore the troubled face of love ‘Dark Rooms’ and politics ‘Civil Wars’ as well as translations from Irish and French and lyrics with a lighter, playful touch.

Passionately serious poems such as ‘A Response to Omagh’ and ‘A Charm for Europe’ display great authority and vision. Others commemorate ‘old friends gone to the shades’, revisit his native Ulster, and invoke the spirit of W.B. Yeats. ‘Weary of discords, heartsick for harmony’, these poems embody ‘the chill of winter’ and ‘the full warmth of summer’. Balanced between ‘two extremes of passion, joy and grief’, they constitute John Montague’s most varied and affectionate collection so far.

John Montague has spent a lifetime confronting his own vulnerability, and in doing so, has broadened and strengthened modern Irish poetry. … As always, Montague sees clearly what has been lost, but also what has been retained and refined over a lifetime. What’s remarkable is the new energy which informs and transforms these well-crafted excursions into lost time. As such, this book is more a rejuvenation than a sequel, a revitalizing of a painful past into a permanent and healing present. Smashing the Piano is Montague at the top of his game.

— Kevin Murphy, Irish Literary Supplement


Montague’s lyrical descriptive powers have never been stronger, and line after line stays in the reader’s head.

— Bernard O’Donoghue, The Irish Times

Year Published: 1999
Details: 88pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 253 0
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 254 7

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