Archive for February, 2006

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Review: A Set of Deadly Negotiations

February 28, 2006

It is very uncommon to see a review of a chapbook appearing in a major paper or journal, so many thanks to Books in Canada’s poetry editor Carmine Starnino for profiling the magnificent Frog Hollow Press; and in turn, my thanks to Caryl Peters and Shane Neilson, FH’s proprietor and editor, for asking me to participate in one of their private endeavours.

The following micro-review appeared in Books in Canada, January/February 2006.

A Set of Deadly Negotiations
George Murray
Frog Hollow Press: Victoria, 2005

Caryl Peters’s design for this chapbook includes the image of a small dangling spider, which is brilliantly appropriate for Murray’s poetry. Every line shimmers with seduction and the possibility of danger, a savage beauty and ruthless efficiency. Certain poems, such as “The Beautiful Hands of Skeptical Women” and “An Evolution of Injury,” fuse violence, sensuality, and grace into a seamless whole that feels both familiar and vaguely predatory. These poems describe a gossamer world where “rain falls in prison bars” and the “future floats foetal through a landscape/ of broken teacups and toppled salt pillars.” Technically these poems are as intricate and fine as a dew-covered web; rhetorical questions and capitalization are used competently and significantly, punctuation with an elegant touch, parentheses sparingly and with a haunting sense of the possible. “Weather the shape of eggs,” memory, hope, “humanity opening like nesting dolls,” the “tiny cannibalisms of everyday,” “one burning city,” “the hourglass body, the sandy soul” – the poetic voice treats each subject reverently, as a delicacy to be savoured. The reader of this collection is a fly in George Murray’s parlour, hypnotized by his rhythm and assonance, fascinated with his philosophical ruminations, and surprised by the “sheer range of darkness and light.”

–Matthew Trafford