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by Joe Murray
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Murrays scope is broad in this book: from allegorical work on nature,
poems about love and war, to narratives
in Scots, to concrete poetry. The overall tenor is unified by nature with
us as a human, often damaging, part of it. It is a political, elemental
work: Murray takes a deep dive into the land, the structure of life, ecosystems.
Alongside well-crafted love poems, a different sense of intimacy and of
the marginal permeate this book. The poet is not just analysing: he is
truly loving it all. The title sequence is imbued with narrative simplicity,
with clarity. There is sparseness on the page, spaces in poems, and yet,
as well as the tight balance of poetry there is all the drama of a novel.
The poet is affected by
Joe Murray has been a reassuring bastion of independent-thinking
non-establishment Scottish poetry for decades; a presence, a teacher,
an encourager. Hes still out there doing it and has now produced
a new full-blooded collection for this third decade of the 21st Century.
Its a love poem to Scotland, animals, humanity, our poor fragile
planet, people he loves. Truthful, tough, touching and tender. Poems in
English, poems in Scots. Poems about the big, the small, whales and moths
and the multi verse. Lyrical and haunting, punctuated with humour. Poems
that include the words dinoflagellates and chloroplast. A particularly
strong, hypnotic sequence about climate change. Epic, intimate and charged
with rhythmic shifts and swirling currents. A beautifully economic central
sequence about his beloved Scoraig with effortlessly perfect poem endings
that stop you in your tracks. So it is on Scoraig, no-one does just one
thing. Poems about whisky and mice, atom bombs, black cats, trees and
bees and a lady in the sun. Humans doing their best, humans doing their
worst. Peace, war, fear, hope. This is the book that Joe Murray was always
supposed to write, and here it is. Its all here.
"Joe Murrays reach is cosmic. He begins, as one should, with
the natural world, with Albas geology, with the simplest forms of
life, with great whales and a winter woodland where wolves still roam.
Murray has a deep knowledge of ecology, of climate change and a poetic
sensibility to match. Up in Scoraig he reminds us we are part of
all this. Humorous, perceptive, tender, he doesnt shrink from
atom bombs, the fate of Bethlehem or intimate expressions of love. Like
me, you will be deeply moved by reading these poems."
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