Archive for September, 2007

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Review: Winnipeg Free Press

September 23, 2007

When I gave a reading last week in Winnipeg, a smartly-dressed fellow showed up with my book already in-hand. Turns out he was Maurice Mierau, the poetry reviewer for the Free Press. He seemed like a nice guy so, luckily, what he had to say was also nice:

St. John’s writer George Murray’s third book is The Rush to Here (Nightwood, 84 pages, $17). It consists entirely of sonnets, and is dedicated to the late Richard Outram, whose formalist poems were quite distinct from the loose conversational tone of most Canadian poetry.

The Autumn of Our Sameness is one of many beautiful pieces here, ending with this couplet: The leaves shiver themselves from the branches,/ much as a half-year back the seeds jumped from the twigs.”

Murray captures the rhetorical shape of the sonnet while avoiding its traditional prosody. He rarely goes into blank verse, and mostly eschews even near-rhyme.

This limits his acoustic palette, but he writes strikingly, usually structuring the pieces around linked metaphors. Often these links move into an achingly expressive line, like Push, whose second-last stanza ends “Lie here with me a bit and say the past exists.” Murray has a powerful ability to synthesize disparate ideas within a poem. A Silent Film, for example, moves from ancient triremes to silent films to contemporary storms and television. What might be messy in an open form is brilliantly contained in the traditional shape of the sonnet.

Remember to buy a copy at your local bookstore or, barring that, through somewhere a little larger today.

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News: Profile in Eye Magazine

September 13, 2007

There’s a short piece on me in Eye, Toronto’s alt weekly. Aside from one rather large error (can you spot it?), it’s quite a nice, friendly little profile. I read at the Art Bar on Tuesday and it was very successful. I can’t remember the last time I saw a poet sell more than one or two books at the Art Bar, but I sold 10! I’ll be back in Toronto for IFOA in October. If you couldn’t make it out to the Art Bar, and even if you did, hopefully I’ll see you there.

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Readings update

September 12, 2007

Thanks to some great people and events, my fall is filling up quickly. Please see below for the reading venue nearest you.

Art Bar Poetry Series
Clinton’s Tavern, Toronto
September 11, 8pm

Aqua Books Series
Aqua Books, 89 Princess St., Winnipeg
Sept 19, 7:30pm

Bookslut Reading Series
Hopleaf, Chicago
October 4, 7:30pm

Frequency Reading Series
Four-Faced Liar, New York
[UPDATED] October 7, time TBA

International Festival of Authors
Harbourfront Centre
October 21, time TBA

Bookfest Windsor
[UPDATED] November 3
3pm “Where Books Are Born” (Publishing panel)
8pm “Poetry Reading”

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News: Poem on Poet Laureate’s Site

September 12, 2007

John Steffler, Canada’s Poet Laureate, has chosen one of my newish poems, “Pareidolia“, as part of his “poem of the week” program at the Parlaimentary Poet Laureate’s website. I think it went up last week, but I missed it. This is how things go.

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Review: JIVE Magazine

September 1, 2007

My publisher pointed out this nice little review. It’s nice that it has a populist angle to it, as though regular everyday people are enjoying poetry. How hopeful and refreshing.

These days it seems that everywhere you look people are combining many activities into one. We drive and talk on the phone; we work while eating lunch. From this, it appears that we are the ultimate multi-taskers. The thing is, with all this mundane multi-tasking, it is definitely easier to aimlessly run through life rather than to actually living in the moment. Lucky for us, George Murray in his latest collection of poetry, the rush to here, seeks to explore the ideas of time and human nature in a way that is vivid, stripped down and frank. The language that he uses is a beautiful mixture of the colloquial and the literary, like in “Rearview Mirror” when hair and scarves are going “shitcrazy” from the wind (10). Besides the concrete language he employs, his poems take the shape of short, sonnet-like forms that work perfectly to capture exactly the image and moment Murray was going for. For instance, in “Truck Stop Gothic,” the speaker recalls a past job as a cook at some greasy spoon when he sliced the head of a fly and went back to making sandwiches without hesitation. Throughout George Murray’s the rush to here, there are moments and images that many people can relate to making it a great book for anyone to pick up for themselves or a friend.

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Interview: Inkwell

September 1, 2007

Something called Inkwell Newswatch interviewed me recently. In fact, my ugly mug takes up most of the “cover“. Included is a short excerpt from The Rush to Here. Thanks to the folks there for asking.