Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Jim Murdoch's This Is Not About What You Think

Jim Murdoch is a novelist and poet whose latest collection of poems, This Is Not About What You Think, begs you to take a closer look at not only his own poems but all poems. Published by fvbooks.com in July, this collection will allow your own thoughts and experiences to flow through his words so that while the collection may not tell a complete story it will allow you to build your own through reading. Below I am happy to share a few poems:

Advice to Children

People will fail you.
It's a fact of life —
they'll let you down.

But not always.
And that's the worst of it —
sometimes they don't.

But most times it's hard to tell.

I think this poem tells it like it is, don’t you? The people you think you can count on fail to and the people you don’t think you can count on turn out to be dependable. Isn’t that the way life is?

Father Figure

This is the floor beside my bed
where I kneel to talk to God.
If I press my ear to the floor.
I can hear Him talk to Mum.
About me. It is always me.

I know what God looks like.
He looks just like my dad.
I heard him tell my mum:
"In this house I am God."
I heard that through the floor.

Now I only pretend to pray
because I don't want my dad
to really hear the things I think.
Now he's not sure I'm so bad.
I don't want him to know I am.

I just want my dad to love me.

I can picture a child writing this poem and it definitely tugs at the heartstrings. It is something I think a majority of us can relate to, feeling that a parent is larger than life, larger than God, and the feeling of wanting to please that parent more than God.

True Love II

My father had a heart transplant.
Years ago, before I was born,
doctors took
out his broken heart

and gave him a machine instead.
The strange thing about this machine
was it was
powered by sadness.

Of course he was always just Dad,
but, when I discovered the truth,
at first I
hated the sadness

then I became thankful for it
because as long as I could see
him be sad
he would be with me.

And so I made it my job to
make him the saddest dad in the
whole wide world.
What else could I do?

This is another poem that lends itself to a child’s perspective. Love, sadness, and thoughtfulness are intertwined in the complicated relationship of parents to children. However, this poem can also expand outward to a myriad of relationships between people, relationships fueled by dysfunction or sadness fueled by mutual tragedies. In a way, this poem could be a children’s book given the right illustrator, and that is what I picture with this poem.

If you enjoyed this short sample, you can read more poems at:

To purchase a copy of This Is Not About What You Think for yourself for 5.99 Pounds from the UK, visit the Fandango Virtual site at:

To learn more about Jim Murdoch and his writing, visit his The Truth About Lies blog at:

Thanks always for reading, please click in tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…


Jim Murdoch said...

Thanks a lot for featuring my poetry book, Paula. What’s interesting about the two poems about fathers is that ‘Father Figure’ is me talking about my dad and ‘True Love II’ is me imagining my daughter talking about me. This is what I meant when I called the collection This Is Not About What You Think because the way they’re arranged in the book they read as if they’re talking about the one father.

I never used to kneel by my bed to pray as a child – that’s a fabrication – but I did used to lie on the floor and try to listen to my parents talk. A lot of the time I imagined because I heard the name ‘Jimmy’ they were talking about me. I forgot it was also my dad’s name.

As regards the second poem, no, I’ve never had a heart transplant but I have suffered from depression on and off for the past thirty years; the first time was just after my daughter’s birth so all her life she’d had to live with a dad with a sad heart which I have to say she has coped with admirably.

There are seven ‘Advice to Children’ poems throughout the collection. There’s actually an eighth on my desktop but I’m not happy with it yet. The whole idea behind the series was how to express profound truths, the kind of truths that we would want our kids to grasp in language they could easily grasp, but still wouldn’t be able to fully understand.

If anyone’s interested Kass at The K…… Is Not Longer Silent has just posted a nice review today too.

Kass said...

I'm glad I read this review. Things I hadn't pondered long enough got analyzed and your explanations, JIM, make those poems all the more rich.

Jim Murdoch said...

@Kass - That’s one of my fears, Kass, that, because my poetry appears straightforward, people will only read it superficially. That they read it at all is a bonus, don’t get me wrong there, and even a superficial reading should make people think, but I would hope that people would take a bit of time and think deeply about the poems. I think this is a an issue that affects all poets not just the plain speakers like me and it’s probably more a symptom of the society we live in where very few things get the attention they deserve – hell, most of us don’t even take the time to relish our food.

Poet Hound said...


Very happy to oblige, I am also happy to hear more of the story behind the poems, thank you!

Kass: I'm glad you enjoyed this, too, I'll need to check out yours now.