The Biplane Houses: Poems

Overview

Les Murray's first new book since Poems the Size of Photographs (2002) finds him at his near-miraculous best. Where that book and the book-length poem Fredy Neptune (1999) were animated by Murray's choice of a single mode of approach (the short poem, the modern epic), this one calls on his ability to write in any voice, style, and genre: there are story poems, wordplays, history—and myth-makings, domestic portraits, and Australian landscapes (such as the one that gives the book its title). The Biplane Houses is ...

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Overview

Les Murray's first new book since Poems the Size of Photographs (2002) finds him at his near-miraculous best. Where that book and the book-length poem Fredy Neptune (1999) were animated by Murray's choice of a single mode of approach (the short poem, the modern epic), this one calls on his ability to write in any voice, style, and genre: there are story poems, wordplays, history—and myth-makings, domestic portraits, and Australian landscapes (such as the one that gives the book its title). The Biplane Houses is evidence of a great poet in top form.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The great bulk of Murray's poetry [is] unlike anything else in the world of modern writing. It is above controversy, about modernism and traditionalism and remains a challenge to whatever is left of contemporary commitment to verse." —The Guardian
Library Journal

Australian poet Murray's latest (after Poems the Size of Photographs, 2002) finds him in a traveling mood. Chockablock with views both sweeping ("Luminous electric grist/brushed over the night world:/White Korea, Dark Korea,/tofu detailing all Japan,/Bangkok on a diamond saddle") and local ("The sun, through stiff lozenge leaves,/prints verandahs in yellow Argyle"), his lyrics flex a language as molded to personal sensibility as that of Heaney or Ammons and as authoritatively uttered as Hopkins's, convincingly spawning words like moveless, knotwork, and nosepaper. Even when his neologistic tendencies risk cleverness, as in "Gentrifical Force," Murray redeems the ploy with postcolonial conscience: "Gentrifical force leaves so many behind/and turns them to primitives in its mind." He can be blunt ("we are money's genitals"), and the clipped, accentual formality of his lines can seem "cold as anesthetic" or just plain gnarly ("The diked low county on parole from floods/began foreshadowing inland jacaranda"). But in a time of easy-to-swallow poetry, chewing on a little "knotwork" is rewarding, especially when the morsels are this tasty. Recommended for academic collections.
—Fred Muratori

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374115487
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 5/29/2007
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 112
  • Product dimensions: 5.83 (w) x 8.73 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Les Murray is the author of many books of poetry, including Conscious and Verbal and Learning Human: Selected Poems. In 1998 Queen Elizabeth II presented him with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He lives on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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