Archive for the ‘Interview’ Category


Interview: CBC’s Weekend Arts Magazine

May 4, 2011

Here’s the nominees for the EJ Pratt Poetry Prize (Patrick Warner, Tom Dawe, and me) talking about poetry on CBC last weekend. Three good books, though my money is on Tom Dawe to win.


Event: Canada Reads Poetry

April 8, 2011

Last fall, during the annual “fiction love-in” that is Canada Reads on CBC, I complained that poetry wasn’t part of the equation there and the National Post called to ask if I’d be interested in doing a sort of shadow contest called “Canada Reads Poetry“. Well, it took a few months more, but it’s now coming to a head at the Post for National Poetry Month.

I’m defending Dionne Brand’s Inventory against a  bizarrely high-class level of other books and jurors. I think Inventory is one of the most salient, important books of the last 25 years, so I feel confident going in, but I’m also fully aware I’m up against four other very good readers defending four other very good books! Should be exciting.

Normally I wouldn’t join this kind of thing, but I actually like the Post’s books coverage and, having complained publically, and more, having been heard, I think it’s time for me to step up and do my bit. Look for my essay at the Afterword in the coming weeks.


Profile: The National Post

September 26, 2010

The National Post ran a full page in their arts section this weekend on Glimpse and me. There was a brief profile and interview, a nice big picture and a set of exerpts from the book. Very nice! Thanks, National Post.

Photo by Paul Daly/National Post

Each day, thousands of people visit Bookninja to read George Murray’s razor-sharp musings on the publishing world. It is as a poet, however, that he first made his name. The author of four previous books, Murray recently published Glimpse, a collection of 409 aphorisms. Described as “a crystallized poetic essence,” aphorisms, though short, can be as deep as the ocean. To wit: “The only reliable form of time travel is living.” The book even has its own iPhone application, for those who like their philosophy on the go. Mark Medley recently spoke to Murray from his home in St. John’s. Herewith, their conversation, condensed and edited.


Article: Edmonton Journal

September 17, 2010

Here’s a great piece by the Edmonton Journal’s books editor Richard Helm on Glimpse. It’s a really nice combination of profile, review and interview. Hope you like it!

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.


Interview: CBC’s On the Go

September 12, 2010

Here’s the audio of an interview with me from On the Go, the drive-home show from CBC in my home town of St. John’s, NL.

George Murray interviewed about Glimpse by CBC


Interview: Salty Ink

September 10, 2010

Atlantic books blog Salty Ink likes Glimpse and has a brief interview with me up today. I hope you like it!

What is it about the aphorism you are drawn to?

I’m drawn to the essential and crystalline. I’m drawn to their nearness to the moment of epiphany. I’m drawn to their relative lack of artifice (at least as compared to the lyric poem). Some of them can stand alone, while others build on one another. As a book-length entity, they loan and borrow energy, to and from one another. They can be read individually or as a unit. And with most of them, people can walk away with, if not an immediate fix then, something relatively accessible to chew on.


Interview: Telegraph Journal

September 8, 2010

Mainland Atlantic paper, the Telegraph Journal, includes me and Glimpse in their fall books preview. An interview turned into a profile appears here.

His latest collection, Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, is thinly disguised as a poetry book. The catalogue of 409 aphorisms come with their own iPhone application, aptly coined iPhorisms. Readers can Tweet, Blog, Facebook or Tumble his succinct thoughts.

“With the aphorism I am trying to get closer to the moment of epiphany by eschewing the artifice of the constructed, crafted poem,” he says. “Now, practically speaking, the aphorisms are also crafted. I’m hoping their accessibility and economy, using the fewest words possible convincingly convey the gist of the epiphany allows the reader closer to the original moment by not putting any barriers to understanding in the way.”


Interview: CBC Weekend Arts Magazine

August 12, 2010

I’ll be on CBC 1’s Weekend Arts Magazine in St. John’s this weekend talking with host Angela Antle about my new book, Glimpse. I’m told the spot runs Sunday at 8:40am Newfoundland time. Pretty early for most of you EST people, so it will be podcast within a few days and I will link to that here. We mostly talk about the stories, such as they are, behind individual aphorisms and about how the book came to be. Hope you enjoy it and it piques your interest in the book.


Interview: CBC Book Club

June 30, 2010

I’m riffing on soccer and books over at the CBC Book Club today. Thanks to Hannah Sung for asking me to be part of their World Cup celebration. I played amateur soccer for years, and spent many more watching the game on television. I’ve tried to steer clear of this particular World Cup, in part because it’s on in the middle of the day and I’d get nothing done if I tried to follow it all. That said, I still check my scores at night and watch the highlight reels. It’s just a great sport, and while I’m no expert, I did enjoy answering some questions and offering a few sports book titles to the club.

Q.: What do you like best — reading about, playing or watching soccer?

A.: I haven’t really played soccer in almost 20 years, owing in part to the many years before that when I played left half and had to trot the length of the field every day, which eventually blew out my knees. But what I do remember enjoying in the sport was the “click” of a good play. It’s the same thing I enjoy watching soccer on TV. Momentum in footy can appear a bit like a riptide: the sea and the shore pounding against one another seem relatively stable with a little give-and-take until you’re suddenly sucked out to sea. I like plays that seem to materialize out of nowhere, like a current beneath the apparent surf, or an unexpected chess gambit. Everyone is mid-field and mucking about and then suddenly the stands are on their feet as the pieces shift and the momentum changes. It’s magical. I even saw this last night, watching my son, aged seven, play. One minute the game is at an impasse and then someone takes an unexpected pass and breaks away and all the parents are jumping and cheering. Of course, with seven-year-olds, there’s a whole lot more shin-kicking involved…


Interview: Torontoist

May 25, 2010

I’m interviewed at the Torontoist books section about my role as Bookninja. It’ll be seven years in August that I’ve been doing this. Which is a good and bad thing, depending on how you look at it. I’ve got no real plans to stop, but if someone wanted to buy it from me, I don’t know if I could say no to the chance to write more….

Bookninja began as an online forum for a bunch of writers to kibitz and argue about the state of the book world but has since evolved into…an online form for a bunch of writers to kibitz and argue about the book world. The difference? Now thousands of other people—including other writers, publishing folk, and many intrigued readers—are listening in and even joining the chat. The conductor, head vocalist, and stage hand for this bookish choir is George Murray, who co-founded Bookninja with fellow author Peter Darbyshire back in 2003, when the phrase “book blog” still had to qualified with some form of descriptor for the web-challenged.

Books@Torontoist editor James Grainger spoke with Murray about the past, present, and future of the pioneering books blog.