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1. Fredy Neptune: A Novel In Verse
2. Learning Human: Selected Poems
3. Subhuman Redneck Poems
4. New Collected Poems
5. The Biplane Houses: Poems
6. Les Murray (Contemporary World
7. Les Murray: A Life in Progress
8. The Poetry of Les Murray: Critical
9. The Boys Who Stole the Funeral:
10. The Boys Who Stole the Funeral
11. Taller When Prone: Poems
12. Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir
13. Out West Australian Dirt
14. Translations from the Natural
15. Conscious and Verbal: Poems
16. Poems the Size of Photographs:
17. A Vivid Steady State: Les Murray
18. New selected poems
19. Learning Human: New Selected Poems
20. The Rabbiter's Bounty: Collected

1. Fredy Neptune: A Novel In Verse
by Les Murray
Paperback: 272 Pages (2000-01-10)
list price: US$22.00 -- used & new: US$6.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374526761
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A riveting, beautiful novel in verse by Australia's greatest contemporary poet, winner of the 1996 T. S. Eliot Prize.

I never learned the old top ropes,
I was always in steam.
Less capstan, less climbing,
more re-stowing cargo.
Which could be hard and slow
as farming- but to say

Why this is Valparaiso!

Or: I'm in Singapore and know my way about
takes a long time to get stale
.-from Book I, "The Middle Sea"

When German-Australian sailor Friedrich "Fredy" Boettcher is shanghaied aboard a German Navy battleship at the outbreak of World War I, the sight of frenzied mobs burning Armenian women to death in Turkey causes him, through moral shock, to lose his sense of touch. This mysterious disability, which he knows he must hide, is both protection and curse, as he orbits the high horror and low humor of a catastrophic age.Told in a blue-collar English that regains freshness by eschewing the mind-set of literary language, Fredy's picaresque life-as, perhaps, the only Nordic Superman ever-is deep-dyed in layers of irony and attains a mind-inverting resolution.
Amazon.com Review
Despite laudable efforts by Vikram Seth and Anne Carson, the novel inverse isn't exactly a fashionable genre. It seems to promise readers aripping good yarn, only to bog them down in slant rhymes, enjambments, andother linguistic niceties. Yet even the staunchest fiction fans may find ithard to resist the charms of Les Murray's Fredy Neptune. For onething, the hero--an Australian itinerant named Friedrich Boettcher--engages in the sort of adventures that are usually reserved forhis opposite numbers in prose. Fredy fights aboard a German battleshipduring World War I, witnesses several of the worst slaughters of ourcentury, and journeys from the Holy Land to Africa to America to the FarEast before making a final landfall back in Australia. But Murray'seight-line stanzas are also eminently readable: slangy, swift, andjam-packed with narrative propulsion.

Fredy Neptune isn't, it should be said, a mere action movie inverse. After our hero witnesses the genocidal slaughter of some Armenianwomen, he undergoes a sympathetic reaction that would perplex the likes ofIndiana Jones:

I was burning in my clothes, sticking to them and ripping free again
shedding like a gum tree, and having to hide it and work.
What I never expected, when I did stop hurting
I wouldn't feel at all. But that's what happened.
No pain, nor pleasure. Only a ghost of that sense
that tells where the parts of you are....
Detached from human feeling, endowed with superhuman strength, Fredycontinues his odyssey, which takes him through so many of the era'spremiere trouble spots. At one point he fetches up in Hollywood, serving as"an extra just then for the famous Prussian director / who I thoughtsounded Australian, when he wasn't talking English." And there heencounters poetry-loving vamp Marlene Dietrich, who sells him once and forall on the merits of Rilke's "The Panther": "It sat me up. This wasn't theTurk's or Thoroblood's 'poems', / big, dangerous, baggy. This was the graindistilled. / This was the sort that might not get men killed." Murray's ownpoem is too discursive, perhaps, to match Rilke's 86-proof lyricism. Butit's plenty big and dangerous, and even in its baggiest moments, FredyNeptune remains an exhilarating read. --Bob Brandeis ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Moby Dicked
It's tough out there. Don't be fooled; given the chance, our fellow man is a brute with a night stick. Les Murray paints a Hobbesian world and takes the reader on a global ride to prove his point. It begins in Turkey with the sight of women being burned alive and ends in Dresden and Hiroshima. The killing and cruelty never end. Man's senses are geared to sniffing out outsiders and making them sorry they ventured outside their allotted doghouse. At the end of Fredy's odyssey through the twentieth century's killing machine, which includes Europe, America and Asia, we learn that the exploitation of man by man is the only universal worth talking about. Stalinism, Hitlerism and other isms of liberation are just cover for atrocity-making at the hands of goons in the employ of the state. Fredy learns and simultaneously teaches the lessons of the century. It's always better to stay home. This novel in verse is Homeric in every sense of the word; the writing is superb. Murray has all the tools of the English language well in hand; his is a Shakespearean talent, equal to best novelists of our time, with the added genius of the poet. Compression is the key; in the hands of the magical realists this would be a 3000 page, 10-volume monster of unreadable prose. One is dazzled not only by the verbal dexterity and wit, but one basks in the glow of wisdom. Fredy is never taken in by the century's cant; his is an Orwellian cast of mind, always on the alert for words that justify killing. His is a moral conscience equal to our greatest poets: Dante, Goethe, and Shakespeare. What is evil, he asks? He can't say, but he knows it when he sees it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Novel in verse is appealing
Writing a novel in verse is a diffidult task. I've been reading a few lately and there seem to be a few ways to go about it.One way to do it is embodied by Golden Gate, by Vikram Seth which is modeled on Eugene Onegin by Pushkin. Both novels have an emphatic style, clear rhyming pattern, iambic tetrameter that allows the story to bounce along. This is a very satisfying and energetic read, but the repetitive patterns will become wearing for a lot of readers, particularly those who are not familiar with reading exteneded verse. (but then the words "novel in verse" should act as some sort of warning for you. Hard to complain when that's printed on the cover)

The other way to approach it is to follow the more "vers libre" route, where the sense of poetry is more framed by a "poetic mindset" than by outside structure.I think of Catherine Cookson or of History:The Home Movie which become oblique,idiosyncratic - the story becomes a poem because of its sketchiness, its odd imagery, its refusal to be story driven.

Fredy Neptune is somewhere between the two.The regular 8 line stanzas give a sense of structure, the pounding metrical stresses drive home the sense of poetry, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't rhyming structures and alliterations provide odd satisfactions of their own, that remind you occassionally that you are reading poetry, without ever getting precious, distracting or boring.

The story is of a man who witnesses a world war one atrocity and who becomes physically numb. At first he seems to be a leper, but after a time he becomes a superman, possessed of increased strength and healing abilities. This allegorical condition (the numbness of being removed from one's own life feels like something I've experienced) allows him to follow life as a numb husband and father, emotionally touched by people, but not properly feeling his own responses to life and situations.He occassionally comes back into the world as a feeling person, before slilpping away again into wooden nervelessness.

It's an engaging and constantly evolving story, sometimes emotionally disturbing, sometimes frustrating in terms of the obstacles that life throws up for the hero.There were a few times, paritcularly at the beginning where I drifted off and lost the story, but that's often a danger of verse, which is prone to sometimes draw attention to its sounds more than its sense. Still, the novel is possessed of good energetic diction which can be a real pleasure to reread.

If you do end up reading and liking it, I would recommend also Tiepolo's Hound byDerek Walcott (sp?) and Puskin's Eugene Onegin. Also Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Arriosto.Tiepolo's hound is kind of difficult to follow at points, but it is a work of genious,. perhaps more of an extended narrative poem than a novel in verse. Orlando Furioso is a page turner, both an example of romantic chivalry and a satire of it.Onegin is funny, insightful and engaging.These three books are work of genius. If you ask me.

Which you didn't.

5-0 out of 5 stars Imaginative Epic - 20th Century "Hero"
Les Murray has created an unusual "everyman" hero, Fredy Neptune, whose adventures are linked to significant geographies, events, and themes of the last century.He's anything but the "ordinary" sailor we first meet, and subsequently is often perceived to possess superhuman powers.Murray has succeeded in making an epic in verse that's delightfully entertaining, poetic in its language, and completely engaging.If you are put off by the thought of reading a novel in verse, don't be.It's a richly rewarding work that you will greatly enjoy.
For those of you who'd like to read a much more detailed review, I suggest Ruth Padel's from the New York Times which you can find using most search engines.

5-0 out of 5 stars Odyssean Myth for the Twentieth Century
`Fredy Neptune' is a rare thing. It is one of the great democratic novels of the twentieth century, paralleling `Ulysses' in its sense of the ordinary and reverence for the everyday. And like Joyce's masterpiece, it is Homeric in its sense of suffering, exile and homecoming.Yet the homecoming, in `Fredy Neptune', is more psychological and existential than geographical.

The main character, a German Australian sailor witnesses the murder of a group of Armenian women during the Turkish genocide of 1915. He suffers profound moral shock and loses all sense of feeling, both bodily and psychologically. After rescuing a Jewish man and a handicapped boy from Hitler's racial hygiene program, Fredy stumbles across an idea that will heal his fragmented condition; he must `forgive the victim'. Why? This is Murray's response to current ethical imperatives. He can only heal himself, can only return from the traumatic seas of psychic dissociation, if he comes to terms with the voice of conscience. Fredy forgives the victims of history, who include Jews, women and Aborigines, for they linger like a moral irritant in his mind. Once he has forgiven them he begins to `pray with a whole heart' and the process of re-integration with his body begins.

Readers interested in Murray's other poetry will find 'Fredy Neptune' is resonant with his collection of autobiographical poetry `Killing the Black Dog', which also contains a revealing essay by the author. The parallels between `Fredy Neptune' and Murray's personal history are illuminating. `Fredy Neptune' is arguably one of the major works of 20c poetry.

5-0 out of 5 stars the man with blank senses
This is an odd book; even down to its dimensions.
It's taller than average...a good thing if you plan to travel with it.I dunno, some things just carry easier.

As for the content, all I can say is it sometimes carries the same tune as Bukowski in his rare "sensitive" moments, when the ugly monster disappears and is replaced by something far more palatable.I bought the book at a bookstore blowout, when all that was left were Road Atlas's, How To books and posters of various 'has beens' and 'what-nots'.

There it was, completely ignored on the shelf, and probably because as the title suggests, it's completely in verse.
It's not in rhyming verse though, which is a plus for those of us who are annoyed by musicals and slant rhymes.

One bit of irony is that while the book is about a man who has lost his ability to "feel", both literally and figuratively in some cases, it is extremely sensuous and is able to condense into one verse what a regular novel would take pages to resolve.

The book is dark, gritty and you can smell the stink of the various docks and ship holds and whores our hero meets on his travels.

Hell, I'm raving about it and I haven't even finished it yet.I take it with me while I'm sucking down coffee, and there are various markings and underlinings and cheap tea stains all over it; I suspect that I will destroy this book before I reach the final page, which is fine, because I really don't want it to end, which sounds rather childish, even sophomoric.


I'll be searching for more of Murray's work.I would give you a verse but it wouldn't do the whole any justice whatsover.
It sings like "The Man Without Qualities", and in fact has alot in common with that book.They just "feel" the same.I know, Bukowski, Musil?There's more, but I don't want to risk anymore comparisons.

Email me if you have nothing better to do with your time, and think you want to wrestle with idiots.

Jose[f] Olivo ... Read more

2. Learning Human: Selected Poems
by Les Murray
Paperback: 240 Pages (2001-03-14)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$0.65
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374527237
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Editorial Review

Product Description
A bighearted selection from the inimitable Australian poet's diverse ten-book body of work

Les Murray is one of the great poets of the English language, past, present, and future.Learning Human contains the poems he considers his best: 137 poems written since 1965, presented here in roughly chronological order, and including a dozen poems published for the first time in this book.

Murray has distinguished between what he calls the "Narrowspeak" of ordinary affairs, of money and social position, of interest and calculation, and the "Wholespeak" of life in its fullness, of real religion, and of poetry.

Poetry, he proposes, is the most human of activities, partaking of reason, the dream, and the dance all at once -- "the whole simultaneous gamut of reasoning, envisioning, feeling, and vibrating we go through when we are really taken up with some matter, and out of which we may act on it. We are not just thinking about whatever it may be, but savouring it and experiencing it and wrestling with it in the ghostly sympathy of our muscles.We are alive at full stretch towards it." He explains: "Poetry models the fullness of life, and also gives its objects presence.Like prayer, it pulls all the motions of our life and being into a concentrated true attentiveness to which God might speak."

The poems gathered here give us a poet who is altogether alive and at full stretch toward experience.Learning Human, an ideal introduction to Les Murray's poetry, suggests the variety, the intensity, and the generosity of this great poet's work so far.
Amazon.com Review
In 1999 Les Murray published Fredy Neptune, a versenarrative of such propulsive power that you had to wonder whether theauthor wasn't truly a closet novelist. But Learning Human, aselection of the poet's work dating back to 1965, should put that idea torest. To be sure, Murray has never confined himself to the bite-size lyric,and this collection contains several longish excerpts from his calendricalsequence "The Idyll Wheel," including a wonderfully atmospheric entry forJuly:

Now the world has stopped, doors could be left open.
Only one fly came awake to the kitchen heater
this breakfast time, and supped on a rice bubble sluggishly.
No more will come inside out of the frost-crimped grass now.
Crime, too, sits in faraway cars. Phone lines drop at the horizon.
Above all else, however, Learning Human showcases Murray's masteryof the short form. He has a remarkable gift for compressing philosophicalinsight into elegant and economic verse. In "Poetry and Religion," forexample, he manages a no-muss, no-fuss comparison of our two favoriteanodynes: "There'll always be religion around while there is poetry / or alack of it. Both are given, and intermittent, / as the action of thosebirds--crested pigeon, rosella parrot-- / who fly with wings shut, thenbeating, and again shut." And like an antipodean Seamus Heaney,he can reproduce the texture of country life with a blunt, nearlymonosyllabic directness. Witness this snapshot of a rainwater tank, whichputs a novel spin on the concept of trickle-down economics:
From the puddle that the tank has dripped
hens peck glimmerings and uptilt
their heads to shape the quickness down;
petunias live on what gets spilt.
It's hard, in fact, to recall an artist more eloquently attuned to thenatural world yet so resistant to knee-jerk bucolics. In one early poem,"József," Murray writes: "I don't think Nature speaks English." LearningHuman suggests that it does indeed, and with an astonishing and veryAustralian fluency. --James Marcus ... Read more

3. Subhuman Redneck Poems
by Les Murray
Paperback: 112 Pages (1998-03-04)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374525382
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Winner of the 1996 T. S. Eliot Prize for the Best Book of Poetry in English

Joseph Brodsky once said of Les Murray: "He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives." In these darkly funny and deeply observant Subhuman Redneck Poems, farmers, fathers, poverty-stricken pioneers, and people blackened by the grist of sugar mills are exposed to the blazing midday sun of Murray's linguistic powers. Richly inventive, tenderly detailed, and fiercely honest, these poems both surprise and expose the human in all of us.
Amazon.com Review
DerekWalcott, who numbers himself among Les Murray's fans, writes,"There is no poetry in the English language now so rooted in itssacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate andconversational." Subhuman Redneck Poems was recentlyawarded the T. S. Eliot Prize in the United Kingdom, and Murray is oneof the most honored poets in Australia. I especially like "DeafLanguage," which suggests themes of connection and distance atthe same time it acknowledges the untranslatable wisdom of the body. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

5-0 out of 5 stars Sweet Revenge
Americans have not had a poet of talent in years. If one is in any doubt, consider the nonsense recited at the President's swearing in. Les Murray is now recognized as the best poet in the English language although I suspect his poetry is virtually unknown in American schools. We are so intent on "world literature" that we neglect the only English language poet in the world acknowledged to be Nobel-worthy. Murray has in common with many recent Nobel-prize winners the distinctive characteristic of courage, although his oppressors have not so much been government censors as teen aged girls and academic critics. Murray has suffered at the hands of the mob. His wounds come from being left out, mocked, humiliated, and ostracized. Like America's Charles Bukowski, Murray's terrain is the cruelty of freedom, the oppression of one's peers, the anguish and torment of nonconformity. Murray recognizes today that he and his kind have been finished off by trendy academics who are looking for the next best thing, the exotic, whose disfigurements can be exploited. They are looking for the Elephant Man, not a representative of that species known as just another human being, whose frailties the cognoscenti find so excruciatingly boring. These poems of Murray's represent him well. They are fiercely written, angry expressions of a man who finds the torment of normalcy all the more painful because it is ignored.

5-0 out of 5 stars A must-have for anyone interested in modern poetry.
Les Murray is quite simply one of the finest poets of his generation. He combines the earthiness of a Seamus Heaney with the passion of a Dylan Thomas. Add a healthy dose of humour and a deep and compassionateunderstanding of the falibility of humankind and you're gettingcloser.

"Subhuman Redneck Poems" is a book full of gems - Ichallenge anyone to read "Burning Want" or "The LastHellos" and remain unmoved. Les Murray has the gift of being able toquickly and clearly convey a person, a setting, or a situation. The poemsare very accessible, which must surely be a rarity given the prevalence ofPost-Modernist babble.

He is a poet of, and for Australia, but hisappeal is not limited to Antipodeans. From a discussion of cultural cringe("A Brief History") to a heartbreaking look at the life of hisautistic son ("It Allows a Portrait in Line-Scan at Fifteen"), hecarries his audience effortlessly.

This is a superb book of poetry. Butdon't take my word for it - see for yourself why it won the 1997 TS EliotPrize. ... Read more

4. New Collected Poems
by Les A. Murray
Paperback: 577 Pages (2003-12)
list price: US$23.66 -- used & new: US$21.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857546237
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The lyric and satirical muses have kept busy with Les Murray. Subhuman Redneck Poems, awarded the 1996 T.S. Eliot Prize, Dog Fox Field (1991), Translations from the Natural World (1993) and Conscious and Verbal (1999) are added to his expanded and corrected volume, bringing the first 60 years of his life into memorable focus. 'It would be as myopic to regard Mr Murray as an Australian poet as to call Yeats an Irishman. He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives', Joseph Brodsky said. And Derek Walcott: 'There is no poetry in the English language so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.' ... Read more

5. The Biplane Houses: Poems
by Les Murray
Paperback: 112 Pages (2008-08-05)
list price: US$14.00 -- used & new: US$5.08
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374531285
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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This is Les Murray’s first new volume of poems since Poems the Size of Photographs in 2002. In it we find Murray at his nearmiraculous best. The collection—named for a kind of house distinctive to Murray’s native Australia—exhibits both his unfailing grace as a writer and his ability to write in any voice, style, or genre: there are story poems, puns extended to poem length, history—and myths in miniature, aphoristic fragments, and domestic portraits. As ever, Murray’s evocation of the natural world is unparalleled in its inventiveness and virtuosity. The Biplane Houses is ardent, eloquent, enchanting poetry.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars "Human light is the building whose walls are inside."

Uninhibited by style or genre, Murray samples everything that life has to offer, what he sees and experiences, tossing out impressions that startle and attract, a facility of language and a love of place that is both extraordinary and compelling:

"But tears underlie every country. Nowhere do they
discharge the past, which is the live dark matter
that flows undismissably with us, and impends
unseen over every point we reach."
(The Welter)

Murray renders landscapes tangible, images that seduce with subtlety, yet paint a stunning portrait grounded in reality:

"Haze went from smoke blue to beige
gradually, after midday.
The Inland was passing over
High up, and between the trees.
The north hills and the south hills
Lost focus and faded away."
(A Levitation of Land)

Contrasting with the poetry that explores the sensory world, a celebration of out natural environment and a caution toward preservation, the poet displays a sharp and canny wit, undeterred from humorous musings:

"Fragrance stays measured
stench bloats out of proportion:
even a rat-size death...

is soon
a house-evacuating metal gas
in our sinuses..

give it a Viking funeral."
(The Nostril Songs)

As well the poet is a master of punsmanship, a provocateur of twisted metaphors:

"A rhyme is a pun that knows where
to stop. Puns pique us with the glare
of worlds too coherent to bear
by any groan person."
(Black Belt in Martial Arts)
A man who appreciates the beauty of nature and the history imbued in place, Murray creates streams of images prompted by the past in league with the present:

"Greeks camped out there in lean times
fishing. Their Greek islands lived in town
with their families. Now it is a National Park."
(The Offshore Island)

In "The Cool Green", Murray writes of money, its power to influence behavior, the fact that "millions eat garbage without it", its facile misuse of those in need, its irrelevance to life's grand design:

"Our waking dreams feature money everywhere
but in our sleeping dreams
it is strange and rare.

How did money capture life
away from poetry, ideology, religion?
It didn't want our souls."

The treasure of New South Wales, Les Murray captures the spirit of language in poetry that assails, provokes and haunts, his love of place rich with memory and image, evoking our finer instincts, cautioning an appreciation for the diminishing bounty of a fertile and precious earth. Luan Gaines/2007.

... Read more

6. Les Murray (Contemporary World Writers)
by Steven Matthews
Paperback: 208 Pages (2002-01-05)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$14.79
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0719054486
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In the only full critical study of Les Murray's work that is available, Steven Matthews provides a complete account of the poet's career to date. A controversial figure, Murray's version of Australian republicanism has caused heated argument about the future direction of his country as it moves away from its colonial past. With detailed readings of major poems, and literary and cultural contexts surrounding the work, Matthews gives an overview of Murray's place in Australian literature and national thought. ... Read more

7. Les Murray: A Life in Progress
by Peter F. Alexander
Hardcover: 432 Pages (2001-04-05)
list price: US$49.95 -- used & new: US$7.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195535014
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This is the first biography of one of Australia's finest poets--a famed lyricist, polyglot, and polemicist. Alexander draws on extensive interviews with Murray to reveal how this complex man endured the harshest and most anti-intellectual of childhoods to develop into one of the most famous poets writing in English today. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

3-0 out of 5 stars A something wonder from down under
Controversy dogs Les Murray's days. He is no stranger to trouble. For "no reason" he oncetrashed his mother's prize flower garden.For this and repeated youthful misbehavior he was frequently thrashed by his father on their small farm in new South Wales. At school he was bullied for being different. For solace he shot "small creatures on the farm." In Murray's own words, he was "semi-autistic."Born in 1938, he took an avid interest in the war, especially good at identifying aircraft. At high school he was in the cadets. In 1971 he refused a job in the department responsible for conscription because he opposed conscripts being sent to Vietnam. Alexander states that by this stage Murray strongly opposed the war in Vietnam, but gives no details of his views or other actions about it. He has a knack of polarizing opinion. The Australian poet Vincent Buckley called him a nazi.Murray took glee in attacking feminists and liberals, but did not like it when they replied in kind. Even some of his friends joined the chorus of Murray the "fascist." He has battled with depression, having a severe bout in 1988-94. He was a diabetic and in the late 1980s weighed in at 352 pounds. Poetry is a subjective thing, so I'll leave each to judge.Alexander is a Murray partisan, so we can't expect complete impartiality. If Alexander had probedMurray's psychology, Catholicism, and philosophy of life we mighthave a better understanding of his complexity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bingo
Les Murray is a character. This biography, marvelously well-written by Peter F. Alexander, is an act of love, from the Australian people to the great poet who, it seems, has suffered at the hands of ignorant fools and partisan enemies for much of his life. Murray is an odd ball, a classic poet warrior for truth-telling and the power of language. One thinks, perhaps, of Ezra Pound, Larkin, Dylan Thomas, because besides being a superb poet, Murray has dedicated his life to the voice of the individual as victim of conformity. He has, according to the biographer, found himself since his youth, the target of ridicule and cruelty. Like the Elephant Man, Murray's massive physique has attracted small-minded people to attack him when they lacked the wit and intelligence to take him on where they know they will be defeated. Murray is a brilliant, multi-lingual polyglot intellectual whose talent for word-play and language has placed him at the top of the poetry heap, with only two or three others in the English-speaking world. An enemy of cant, left-wing propaganda, political correctness, and all things done by the book, Murray is shown here by Alexander to be a hero of the straight and true, something like a John Wayne with genius. There is an odd mythical quality about the poet's extraordinary achievement, especially as it was accomplished often in the face of cruel, petty criticism from the left who seem to have been ready to kill off this brilliant man to make their ideological points across the decades. Of course, as with all individuals and individualists, you find again and again that it was Murray who was ahead of the pack on so many topics. Murray championed aboriginal voices, Murray promoted indigenous authors, Murray translated world literature; the multi-cultural crowd hasn't been able to keep up with this white male, hard though they have tried. The biography is touching, moving, and exciting. Americans who have yet to discover this brilliant writer have a treat in store.

5-0 out of 5 stars A perfectly ordinary genius
Peter Alexander has written a biography that does come close to doing justice to perhaps the greatest living poet in English.It is not only a well crafted account of the details of Murray's hard early life; it is, more tellingly, a compelling yarn about the pain, struggle and triumph of a troubled, stubborn and divine genius.

It can also serve as a useful primer. And not just to some of Murray's more diffcult poems, but to poetry itself. You are put closer to the poet's seemingly impossible aspirations for his words, and therebyparticipate more keenly in the truth of his poetic gifts in revealing the spirituality of the ordinary.

It is hoped too that this biography is as premature as its title suggests, as I, for one, want to hear a lot more of Murray's poetry in years to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent biography of a Great Poet
Les Murray is the leading poet in the English-speaking world today. This account of his often strange life and work is scholarly, well researched and lifts the lid on some of the dirty tricks of Murray's rivals and enemies in the Australian literary scene (there were unsuccessful attempts to ban it). Sheds light on many aspects of poetry, culture in general, and the human condition. ... Read more

8. The Poetry of Les Murray: Critical Essays (Australian Literary Studies, V. 20, No. 2.)
by Laurie Hergenhan
Paperback: 184 Pages (2002-02-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$23.56
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Asin: 0702232912
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Les Murray is acknowledged internationally as Australia's leading poet, yet the criticism of his work has not been commensurate with his substantial reputation.These groundbreaking, new essays range across Murray's considerable output, impressive in their depth as well as their coverage as they reveal the riches of his poetry.They examine its lyrical qualities and its remarkable linguistic inventiveness, its landscapes and 'soundscapes', its biographical qualities, its underlying poetics and world view, including the mid-length poems and the recent verse novel, "Fredy Neptune".This volume is an indispensable companion for everyone with an interest in Australian and world poetry.Contributors include outstanding Murray scholars, new and well known, from overseas as well as Australia.Peter Steele writes of Murray 'watching with his mouth'; Martin Leer produces a brilliant study of the 'poetics of place' and the centrality of the district of Bunyah to Murray's world; Christopher Pollnitz looks at the midlength poems, including "The Bulahdelah-Taree Holiday Song Cycle", Nils Eskestad analyses Murray's soundscapes and Peter Pierce his "Narrowspeak"; Line Henriksen places "Fredy Neptune" in the context of works by Heaney, Walcott and Dante; Bruce Clunies Ross discusses Murray's art of 'cracking normal'; Charles Lock contributes an outstanding essay on "Fredy Neptune" and its underlying ethics and poetics; Noel Rowe rescrutinises the poem on the death of Murray's mother, and Carol Hetherington contributes an invaluable checklist.
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9. The Boys Who Stole the Funeral: A Novel Sequence
by Les Murray
Hardcover: 71 Pages (1992-02)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$25.00
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Asin: 0374116032
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10. The Boys Who Stole the Funeral
by A. Les Murray
Paperback: 71 Pages (1989-10)
list price: US$17.25 -- used & new: US$73.81
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Asin: 0856358452
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11. Taller When Prone: Poems
by Les Murray
 Hardcover: 96 Pages (2011-03-15)
list price: US$24.00 -- used & new: US$16.32
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Asin: 0374272379
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Taller When Prone is Les Murray’s first volume of new poems since The Biplane Houses, published five years ago. These poems combine a mastery of form with a matchless ear for the Australian vernacular. Many evoke rural life here and abroad—its rhythms and rituals, the natural world, the landscape and the people who have shaped it. There are traveler’s tales, elegies, meditative fragments, and satirical sketches. Above all, there is Murray’s astonishing versatility, on display here at its exhilarating best.


We were at dinner in Soho
and the couple at the next table
rose to go. The woman paused to say
to me: I just wanted you to know
I have got all your cook books
and I swear by them!

I managed
to answer her: Ma'am
they've done you nothing but good!
which was perhaps immodest
of whoever I am.
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12. Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression
by Les Murray
 Paperback: 96 Pages (2011-03-15)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$10.40
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Asin: 0374181063
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In 1988, shortly after moving from Sydney back to his birthplace in the rural New South Wales hamlet of Bunyah, Les Murray was struck with depression. In the months to follow, the “Black Dog” (as he calls it) ruled his life. He raged at his wife and children. He ducked a parking ticket on grounds of insanity, and begged a police officer to shoot him rather than arrest him. For days on end he lay in despair, a state in which, as he puts it precisely, “you feel beneath help.”

Killing the Black Dog is Murray’s recollection of those awful days: brief, pointed, wise, and full of beauty in the way of his poetry. The prose text—delicately balanced between personal and informative—gives a glimpse of the imprint depression can leave on a life. The accompanying poems show their roots in his crisis—a crisis from which, he reports toward the close of this poignant book, he has fully recovered. “My thinking is no longer jammed and sooty with resentment,” he recalls. “I no longer wear only stretch-knit clothes and drawstring pants. I no longer come down with bouts of weeping or reasonless exhaustion. And I no longer seek rejection in a belief that only bitterly conceded praise is reliable.”

Killing the Black Dog is a crucial chapter in the life of an outstanding poet.
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13. Out West Australian Dirt
by Fiona McGregor, Garry Disher, Leonie Stevens, Archie Weller, Les Murray, Zyta Plavic, James McQueen, Gillian Mears, Ann Dolmbroski
 Paperback: 236 Pages (1996-02-28)
-- used & new: US$9.29
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Asin: 0732251656
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Editorial Review

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A collection of stories depicting life in the mid-1990s on the fringes of Australia's large cities and further out to the country towns. The book includes stories by Fiona McGregor, Archie Weller, Gillian Mears and Les Murray. ... Read more

14. Translations from the Natural World: Poems
by Les Murray
 Hardcover: 67 Pages (1994-04-01)
list price: US$21.00
Isbn: 0374278709
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

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The centerpiece of this collection of poems is "Presence," a sequence of forty "translations from the natural world" about a variety of settings and their amazing denizens. Lyre birds, honeycombs, sea lions, possums, all act as spurs for Murray's protean talent for description and imitation.
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5-0 out of 5 stars Poems that will bend your mind
The 40 "translations" in this collection integrate a complex set of ideas about consciousness, language, God, and our relationship to the earth, in poems of great linguistic and formal inventiveness.The poems demonstrate why Joseph Brodskey said of Murray that "he is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives" and Jonathan Bate calls him "the major ecological poet writing in the English language." Murray's language is continually inventive, sometimes densely, almost irritatingly so. He uses forms from dramatic narratives to sonnets to free verse, weaving rhyme, meter, strange and convoluted syntactical constructions, sound, and inventive naming into poems that richly repay careful reading.

Murray "translates" into English the "language" of an amazing range of natural phenomena. The subjects are not just animals, although there are plenty of those; he also takes on plants, insects, reptiles, birds, mammals, cell DNA, evolution, the bole on a tree, and the migration of birds. To each one he brings a keen eye and a newness of language that makes each poem both a discovery and a lesson. The language becomes strange, even quirky at times, but the strangeness is necessary to shake preconceptions.For example, in the first poem in the group called "Eagle Pair," Murray shows us the world through the eyes of the birds:

We shell down on the sleeping branch. All night
the limitless Up digests its meats of light.

The circle-winged Egg then emerging from the long pink and brown
re-inverts life, and meats move or are still on the Down.

Right away, by using "shell" as a verb he's moved into a language of raptors. Eagles don't lie down, they hunch over with heads buried in wings, covered like the eggs they came from. And I have no doubt that if an eagle used words, it would refer to Up and Down, not sky and earth; and that creatures on the Down would be food (meats), and nothing else.

The poems also contain meditations on change and transformation, how these minds and beings came to be as they are. Transformation has its origins in the cycles of eating, being eaten, and reproducing that binds the lives of all species together.Plants change in reaction to the animals that graze on them, and in return their dung feeds the soil in which the plants are rooted.In "Mother Sea Lion," the female notes that "My pup has become myself / yet I'm still present. // My breasts have vanished. / My pup has grown them on herself."

The two ideas, translation and transformation, illuminate a world made up by the action of what Murray calls presence. Murray's translations point toward what he means by presence: the beautiful, terrifying, fecund ground of existence, stranger and more wonderful than anything human mind ever invented.

As Wallace Stevens said in "The Comedian as the Letter C": "his soil is man's intelligence." Murray's poems give us what the soil might say, if humans could understand its language. In these poems, human language is supple enough, tough enough, high-flying and deep-diving enough to say things from the earth, instead of saying things about it as a way of talking about ourselves. ... Read more

15. Conscious and Verbal: Poems
by Les Murray
Hardcover: 128 Pages (2001-10-13)
list price: US$23.00 -- used & new: US$5.44
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Asin: 0374128820
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A wonderful new collection by a wizard of contemporary poetry

Everything widens with distance, in this perspective.
The dog's paws, trotting, rotate his end of infinity
and dam water feels a shiver few willow drapes share.
Bright leaks through their wigwam re-purple the skinny beans
then rapidly the light tops treetops and is shortened
into a day. Everywhere stands pat beside its shadow
for the great bald radiance never seen in dreams.
-from "Aurora Prone"

In July 1996, the Australian press reported that after three weeks in a coma, the country's greatest poet, Les Murray, was again "conscious and verbal." Shortly thereafter, Murray resumed his work in words, and over the next four years he wrote these sixty-five poems, which, in their different ways, literally or sensually, replay that dreamy announcement of the perpetually waking world. Conscious and Verbal is one of the legendary poet's richest, fullest, and most imaginative books to date.
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16. Poems the Size of Photographs: Les Murray
by Les A. Murray
 Hardcover: 106 Pages (2002-01)
-- used & new: US$32.65
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Asin: 1876631236
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17. A Vivid Steady State: Les Murray & Australian Poetry
by Lawrence Bourke
 Paperback: 174 Pages (1992-08)
list price: US$13.00
Isbn: 0868400459
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18. New selected poems
by Les A Murray
Paperback: 232 Pages (1998)
-- used & new: US$34.83
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Asin: 1875989250
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19. Learning Human: New Selected Poems (Poetry pleiade)
by Les A. Murray
Paperback: 240 Pages (2001-04-25)
list price: US$16.45 -- used & new: US$11.85
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Asin: 1857545141
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Editorial Review

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The poems in "Learning Human" represent the range of Murray's development in narrative, lyric and satirical modes. All of his best-loved early poems are included, along with the remarkable work of recent years. ... Read more

20. The Rabbiter's Bounty: Collected Poems
by Les A. Murray
 Hardcover: 321 Pages (1991-12)
list price: US$25.00 -- used & new: US$187.96
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Asin: 0374126224
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