Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Les Murray

I picked up Les Murray’s book of poems titled The Biplane Houses from Farrar Straus Giroux. Les Murray is from Bunyah, New South Wales Australia and was born there October 17th, 1938. He writes novels in addition to collections of poetry and I thoroughly enjoyed reading his collection of poems. You can find out more about him using the link below which also includes links to some of his poems.

Several of his poems that I enjoyed were also quite short and it would be difficult to discuss them without including the entire poem. So I have selected two poems which are longer in his book so that it gives me more “room” for discussion, so to speak.

In his poem “The Kitchen Grammars” he likens the world’s languages to cooking a recipe. It’s a delightful way to create a poem and I was very happy to encounter it. There are clever lines such as “It’s the opening of a Celtic sentence/is a verb. And it was more fire and pot/for us very often than ingredients./” Then it goes on to say “…in Chinese/the verb surrounds itself nucleus-fashion/with its subjects and qualifiers./Down every slope of the wok they go/to the spitting middle/to be sauced.” I would love to include the poem in its entirety but of course I don’t usually give myself much time to request permission from the author. I hope you get to run across it yourself in the book-store or on the internet.

The next poem is “The Domain of the Octopus” which is several pages long and kept my attention the whole way. The octopus described in the poem sounds akin to a tall tale as it has a very peculiar description and long reach in lines such as “The Octopus can build dams/of tide to suspend the Axe creeks/” and “The Octopus can’t love/but can be loved…” This poem brings to life the sea and its participants, from the animals to the land and the people. I love the lines “Dolphins, like 3D surfboards/born in the ocean, curvet/around fenced oyster gardens.” It seems such an obvious comparison but one I’ve never made, Dolphins shaped like surfboards. Or how about “and the oysters lid themselves/in their gnarled cups, against pressure.” The pressure is from power boats, by the way. The oysters responding to humans who have no clue what lies below the surface seems typical of our every-day lives. I love imagining all the characters of the scene described by Mr. Murray in this poem and how everything connects.

If you ever get a chance I hope you’ll read his poems however and wherever you may encounter them. Like I said before, you can use the link provided to learn more about him and read some of his poems.


Thanks again for reading, please stop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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