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Conjugations and Reiterations

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In Conjugations and Reiterations Albert Murray, one of the premier literary men of our time, gives us his first collection of poetry. Wide ranging and informed by his singular intelligence and sensibility, these poems are extraordinary for their keen folk wisdom and striking lyricism, partaking of the idioms of blues and jazz. The vicissitudes of American life, the improvisatory nature of American art, the profundities of the Gospel and of ...
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Overview

In Conjugations and Reiterations Albert Murray, one of the premier literary men of our time, gives us his first collection of poetry. Wide ranging and informed by his singular intelligence and sensibility, these poems are extraordinary for their keen folk wisdom and striking lyricism, partaking of the idioms of blues and jazz. The vicissitudes of American life, the improvisatory nature of American art, the profundities of the Gospel and of gospel music—these are but a few of the concerns in Murray’s poetic achievement.

Conjugations and Reiterations stands in ringing confirmation of The New Yorker’s celebration of Albert Murray as a writer “possessed of the poet’s language, the novelist’s sensibility, the essayist’s clarity, the jazzman’s imagination, and the gospel singer’s depth of feeling.”
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Albert Murray's "Aubades: epic exits and other twelve bar riffs" evokes the "freight train" and "sawmill whistles" of hard labor before the "singer" gets around to romance. In the next piece, the blues are abandoned in favor of a pert, mock-officious speech peppered with civic jargon, delivering dangerously offhand opinions about scarecrows and "municipal cleanup budgets/ for red letter day celebrations/ of legendary heroic actions." In Conjunctions and Reiterations, Murray (The Spyglass Tree), a novelist and nonfiction writer and winner of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandorff Award for lifetime achievement, displays a terrific range of voice, rhythm and interest. Whether in the slow blues refrains or in a later poem that mixes academy-speak with black vernacular, his prosody always seamlessly supports his content, his eye and ear jointly keeping time. (Nov. 21) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Now in his mid-eighties, Murray is best known for his novels and essays exploring the nature of African American identity, particularly his studies in the mythic and sociological dimensions of the blues. Here he transfers the dynamics of blues and jazz music to poetry ("poetry is the supreme effort/ to make words swing"), combining strongly accentual lines and refrains with wry, scholarly observations and rhetorical panache to produce poems that just as confidently evoke fiery Sunday sermons ("Jawbone," with its amen choruses) as they do the concise playfulness of e.e. cummings ("from washington/ once a man/ and now a town/ came ellington/ once a man/ and now a sound"). Though Murray is not the first to borrow forms from musical sources, he does so with shrewdness ("indeed thelonius made music/ as some monks have always made/ and shared wine") and an unwavering sense of elegance. In "Pas de Deux (I)" he writes that poetry "is the dancing of an attitude," an aesthetic credo aptly applied to Murray's own way with a poem. Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375421419
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 11/13/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 4.54 (w) x 7.59 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Albert Murray was born in Nokomis, Alabama, in 1916. He was educated at Tuskegee Institute, where he later taught literature and directed college theater. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Seven League Boots, The Blue Devils of Nada, and The Spyglass Tree. He lives in New York City.
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Table of Contents

Aubades: Epic Exits and Other Twelve Bar Riffs 1
Landscape With Figures 17
Fable in the Fabric 27
Profiles 41
Gospel Reverberations 63
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