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Review: The Globe and Mail

June 23, 2007

There’s a nice review of The Rush to Here by Ewan Whyte in Canada’s national newspaper, The Globe and Mail. It’s quite laudatory, but a little choppy. It seems to capture the spirit of the book well enough and I’m very pleased to be reviewed with A.F. Moritz and his son Blaise. I read with Blaise in Toronto recently and loved his work, and of course I’m a very long time fan of Al. Al edited my third book The Hunter, so he’s a bit of a poetic, if not biological, father to me too.

from The Globe and Mail

In contrast, George Murray explores a variety of subjects: ex-girlfriends, bloody operations, social decay, children skateboarding on war monuments in sight of a soldier selling poppies, and other atypical sonnet themes. The Rush to Here is a rush to everywhere. Form, not theme, is what defines Murray’s fourth book of poetry, which consists entirely of modified sonnets, where every poem is recognizably a variation of this traditional poetic form.

Murray, an Ontarian who now lives in St. John’s, has constrained himself to 14 lines in each poem, with usually 10 to 12 beats per line. However, they do not follow standard sonnet rhyming schemes. Instead, Murray employs something he calls “thought-rhymes,” which appear to be parallels or conceptual variations that take the place of conventional rhyming. Indeed, many of his line endings are inventive, hinting at notions that can never be realized, while also mirroring the everyday wanderings of our daydreams.

In his sonnet Plain Jane, we find three strange bedfellows, God and Death and the French Philosopher Jean Baudrillard:

                Who knows what we’ll endure

next in this find-a-dollar daydream
always under the falling anvil’s allure.
Yes, I see you there, hiding, lost in thought.

Baudrillard says all this is how we seduce
ourselves into forgetting about the grave.
God is fear’s ghost, I say, but remain unconvinced.

Reading Murray engenders thoughts subtly mystical, feelings revolving around the wonder of imperfection. In the opening quatrains in one of his most innovative poems, A Moment’s Autograph, we discover there is:

Still enough sky-glow left to distinguish
colour, even as the trees descend
through the registers of green and the stoop
becomes shrouded and difficult to discern.

From a crack in the dark wall hang loose wires:
give a tug and watch society start
to unravel. There’s no real need to begin
worry, just be aware where the pulling leads.

At times, the language of these poems is aggressive, even hostile, meant to engage the reader in debate and discourse. Traditional sonnets these are not, nor do they have a narrative or thematic sweep as a collection, but individually, many poems in The Rush to Here are striking, inspired and sturdy.

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