Mary Montague

Poet, Writer
Reading and Q&A, Creative Writing Workshop, Master Class
Age Group
7 - 10, 11-15, 16 - 18
Primary, Post Primary
Works in English ONLY
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
Mornings, Afternoons

Publications/Repertoire/Productions & Background Experience

I am a poet and prose writer, and creative writing facilitator and tutor. I worked as a teacher in a secondary school for fifteen years so I am experienced in working with young people as well as with adults, at all levels of ability. I have also worked as a creative writing tutor with the Open College of the Arts, and I currently work as a creative writing facilitator/tutor with the Crescent Arts Centre and Stranmillis College, Belfast, as well as in community arts projects. I have written two poetry collections: Tribe (Dedalus Press, 2008) [“ ... celebratory (sometimes elegiac) rapture” (The Irish Times); “... the kind of vivid intensity that would have made Wordsworth quake in his boots.” (Sunday Tribune)]; and Black Wolf on a White Plain (Summer Palace Press, 2001).

My work has been published in Ireland, the UK and North America, has been translated into French, Russian and Italian, and has won a number of awards (e.g. Cúirt New Irish Writing). I have been also been published in many anthologies, including: Science Meets Poetry 3 (Ed. by Jean-Patrick Connerade and Iggy McGovern), Euroscience Press, Strasbourg, 2013;  Four Irish poets / Quatre poètes irlandais (Ed. Clíona Ní Ríordain), Dedalus Press, Dublin, 2011; and The Watchful Heart A New Generation of Irish Poets: Poems and Essays (Ed. by Joan McBreen), Salmon Press, Galway, 2009. I have read at many festivals and venues, including: the William Carleton Summer School, Clogher, Co. Tyrone; the Irish Cultural Centre, Paris; Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Poetry Now Festival; the Belfast Festival at Queen’s; the Troubador, London. 

Session Details

I begin sessions with introductory and warm up exercises that are designed to put students at ease and get the creative juices flowing. I then move on to writing exercises. By these means, I aim to facilitate students’ enjoyment of language and the power the written word. We may explore how devices of sound and form may work enhance their work. My objective is to increase students’ feelings of competence and confidence in terms of their own writing. I work interactively with the class, letting their responses guide and develop the session, if appropriate. My main goal is that students enjoy using their own imagination and produce original work that achieves something for them, whether through poetry or prose. Every student has the opportunity to have their work heard and responded to.

For Masterclasses, it would be best if I received students’ pieces about a week in advance of the session. I would anticipate a smaller group size (up to 15; but this can be discussed) of interested students in order to provide the most meaningful and helpful feedback. The format would be to read the pieces in conjunction with the students and then feed back to the writer of the piece offering him or her the chance to reflect back to the group. This is a sensitive task, requiring the negotiation and agreement of ground rules beforehand. However, I find that students generally appreciate even negative criticism when it is offered in with a genuine spirit of enabling the him/her to improve the effectiveness of their own writing; and all students learn from each other’s work.

For readings/questions and answers, it is likely that my work would be most appreciated by post-primary students. I am happy to read to single classes or larger groups and discuss my own work and writing/poetry in general.

As a former science teacher, as well as creative writing teacher, I am also interested in making links with between literature and science in the curriculum.

Age Group Details

As my own teaching experience is within the post-primary sector, I especially enjoy working with post-primary children, but I would also welcome the opportunity to work with older primary children. I can work with whole-class groups, or smaller groups drawn from within a class or between different classes. I have experience in working with mixed-age and mixed-ability groups, and I’m experienced in differentiating material for working with mixed-age and mixed-ability/experience within the same creative writing workshop session.

C/o Poetry Ireland 01-678 9022
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