Archive for March, 2012

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Events: Spring readings from Whiteout

March 30, 2012

Whiteout and I have a bunch of appearances coming up in the next few months. Hope you can make it out to one or two.

  • Weekend Arts Magazine, CBC Radio 1, Sunday, April 1, 8:30am
  • St. John’s Launch, The Ship, Tuesday, April 3, 7:30pm
  • Plan 99 Reading Series, Ottawa at The Manx, April 14, 5:00pm
  • Toronto Launch, TBA, Monday, May 14, 8:00pm
  • Waterloo Ontario, Starlight Social Club, Tuesday, May 15, 7:00pm
  • Pivot Readings Series, Toronto at the Press Club, Wednesday, June 27, 8:00pm

Would love to see you there. If you can’t make it, but can send your friends in the city where the event is, I’d much appreciate it!

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Audio: CBC Weekend Arts Magazine

March 29, 2012

I’ll be appearing on CBC’s Weekend Arts Magazine on Sunday, April 1, the launch date for Whiteout (and a day for fools), at 8:30am (ouch), to talk about my new book with host Mack Furlong. Tune in and let me know what you think!

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Review: First Review for Whiteout in Quill and Quire

March 23, 2012

The first review for Whiteout is a good one. Whew. It appears in the April edition of the Quill and Quire, Canada’s book industry magazine, on stands now. Text below:

Whiteout

George Murray; $18.95 paper
978-1-77041-087-9, 64 pp., 51/2 x 81/2,
ECW Press, April
Reviewed from bound galleys

George Murray kicks off his fifth book of poetry with “Dante’s Shepherd,” which revisits Canto XXIV, 1­15 of the Inferno and, in so doing, reveals not only his subject matter but also his formal approach in many of the poems that follow. Like Dante’s master-piece, Whiteout is an exploration of the soul’s journey, and Murray employs terza rima in several poems. The effective use of rhyme testifies to Murray’s mastery of language within strict formal constraints.

The simplicity of “Dante’s Shepherd” belies its depth. A person walks with one hand exposed to the cold, and the sun finally comes out: “It leans down on the hills as though scorning / any doubt that the universe still lives / without my happiness in bloom, warning”. The common activity of walking while being assaulted by the elements points to one of the volume’s pervading themes: the destabilizing effect of being alive.

There’s also death. The eight tercets of “Brushfires,” another poem in terza rima, describe the aftermath of a fire and what is found in the rubble: a couple burned into one indistinguishable mess. “Falling or burning, embraced against the end; / what-was-once-two closes in, supplicates, smoulders down to one corpse, crumbles, ascends.” Several poems deal with accidents, emergencies, or death, and the overall outlook is solemn.

The shorter poems work best, with the ones that make use of rhyme being particularly effective. Fortunately Murray doesn’t force this approach, allowing half-rhymes to stand (or even forgoing them altogether) in the interest of communication. In “Innocent Bystanders,” for example, the speaker and his or her dinner companion listen in on another couple’s argument. Murray switches up the rhyme scheme partway through as the speaker and companion try to focus on each other. Such attention to sound combined with content is a pleasure.

On occasion, Murray’s language is unnecessarily raw, demanding too much attention and detracting from the overall effect. But in most cases, the diction fits beautifully. Filled with allusion, euphony, and thoughtful content, Whiteout is well worth consideration.

Candace Fertile, an English teacher at Camosun College, Victoria.

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Teaching: New York Times Knowledge Network

March 16, 2012

Starting April 16, I’m once again teaching Introduction to Poetry for the New York Times Knowledge Network, in conjunction with the University of Toronto’s SCS. We cover everything from the basics (what actually IS poetry? what are the basic poetic elements? etc.) to in depth study and practice in forms (breath pulse/prose poetry, free verse, haiku, ghazal, sonnet, villanelle, glosa, and sestina), to talk of editing and nurturing “voice”, and finally a sections on “next steps and how to get published”. If you’re interested, you can take this course for your own enjoyment or for credit at UofT’s SCS towards the Creative Writing Certificate. Sign up at the link above, or get the course as a gift for a loved one who might be harbouring secret dreams of writing and publishing poetry!

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Event: St. John’s Launch for Whiteout

March 10, 2012

I’ve finally scheduled a St. John’s launch for my new book, Whiteout. Info all below. Hope to see you there, and to find you brought some friends with you.

  • What: George Murray launches Whiteout
  • When: Tuesday, April 3, 7:30pm
  • Where: The Ship Pub, 265 Duckworth Street, St. John’s
  • How: Muchies on hand, beer available at the bar, and books for sale… perhaps a poem will be heard

Here’s the Facebook event for the page. Feel free to invite your St. John’s people or visiting folk to it.

Whiteout, poems by George Murray