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The Cottage Builder's Letter [Paperback]

George Murray

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Book Description

April 17 2001
With The Cottage Builder’s Letter, gifted poet George Murray comes into his own with a new book of sumptuous lyrical narratives. He constructs his remarkable stories-in-song around challenges in the lives of people claiming their right to exist in a world seemingly set against them. Highly crafted, generous in tone, and always with a moral authority, The Cottage Builder’s Letter tackles the larger historical issues of Murray’s own Irish background by creating heroes of well-storied, fictional characters such as a nameless Muskoka cottage builder, the singular Seamus Me Fein (Seamus myself), and his parents and his grandparents, vaulting their hard luck and hard work into poetry driven by bardic rhythms. Murray re-invigorates traditional rhythms the same way he surprises us by creating fresh figures from old tales. Whether his subject is a modern-day Damocles, a drowning man waiting for Noah, an Egyptian on the Red Sea, or the Cassandra myth updated to contemporary urban scenes, Murray’s poetry bursts with a protean vigour.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: McClelland & Stewart (April 17 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0771066724
  • ISBN-13: 978-0771066726
  • Product Dimensions: 21.5 x 13.7 x 0.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 150 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #695,195 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

George Murray writes with the confidence and craft of an experienced poet but with the surprising freshness of a younger one. In The Cottage Builder's Letter, his second book of poems following the well-received Carousel: A Book of Second Thoughts, Murray focuses for the most part on stories, suggestions of stories, and fragments of larger narratives, like the half-hidden suggestiveness of "a row of homes with open doors" or "a room with marble and dark furniture."

Like all good storytellers, he has expanded the poetic dictum of William Carlos Williams--"no ideas but in things"--to include characters as well as things. While concrete images are the landscape and architecture of these poems, characters are their lifeblood. The eponymous cottage builder (his story told in seven linked poems with a driving, Whitmanesque rhythm) arrives early in the century in northern Ontario, where he has never seen "a moon so thin." In the concluding 10 poems, Murray records the unrecorded life of Seamus Mé Féin (Seamus Myself), born in County Antrim. In between, we meet a coroner, an elderly gentleman, a photographer, an Aussie named Jonny, as well as a ewe in attendance at the Nativity.

Murray is not limited to narratives, however. Every poem has its lyrical elements, and occasionally he offers a finely sculpted pure lyric, such as "Rain," whose drizzly catalog includes "the winemaker's rain falls like fat green grapes," "the wind's rain introduced angles to the world," and "the puddle's rain is the beginning of all clouds." These are well-constructed poems, complex yet accessible, entertaining and intelligent. --Mark Frutkin

Review

“[Murray] demonstrates that a firm controlling metaphor in a poem need not obviate the free play of imagination.…Highly impressive.…”
Globe and Mail

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