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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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