Article: Edmonton JournalSeptember 17, 2010
Glimpse is a catalogue of 409 aphorisms Murray has culled from his journals and poetry over the years. Why 409? Murray says he shares with the Beach Boys a particular affection for that number. But why aphorisms rather than regular verse?
In a phone interview this week, Murray traced the book’s origins to a reading he did at Princeton a few years back and subsequent conversation with the American poet James Richardson, who has played with the form himself. Richardson told Murray many of the closing couplets from the sonnets of his last collection, The Rush to Here, would work as aphorisms if removed whole from their host poems.
Murray started collecting them, a bid idly, while working on another book of poetry. Then last summer, at a reading in Dublin, the famed Irish poet Paul Durcan insisted he put the poesy aside and publish the aphorisms. That was good enough for Murray.
“Everybody, not just poets, has these little moments of epiphany where you have a bit of a deeper understanding of the universe,” Murray said.
“It’s a fleeting thing, kind of like grabbing onto smoke: You can’t quite do it. But poets are trained to try to grab that and shape it into something. A poet spends a lot of time laying down artifice upon this moment of epiphany and trying to make it beautiful and trying to make it have multiple layers of meaning.
“These aphorisms try to go straight for the moment of epiphany with the fewest words possible.