"Go home, boy. Sink your toes in that rich soil and grow some roots." So America's first poet laureate urged his apprentice Timothy Murphy, back in 1972. 'Very Far North' is the third book depicting the consequences of that advice. After his undergra
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In 1998 Tim Murphy's first collection, The Deed of Gift, was published. And it is a brilliant collection. This year Murphy's second collection, Very Far North, has arrived. Murphy still writes mostly short poems with short lines (dimeter and trimeter). And he does it well. He has a tremendous wit, and even more impressive is the seriousness and quality of his verse that you don't normally see in lines and poems this short. Murphy is a regional poet (much like our greatest regional poet, Robert Frost) who speaks of local and global concerns. This collection isn't quite as good as his first (which would be hard to top), and like the first collection it does get a little weaker towards the end, but this is a marvelous work and one I highly recommend.
Timothy Murphy continues to be one of my favorite poets. He writes in a clear, concise, musical style reminiscent of Robert Francis and Robert Frost, although he is never derivative. He has that magical ability to paint a vivid picture in just a few words. He writes about life as a farmer and rancher on the Midwestern plains, about nature, and about love and spirituality (among other things). He is never maudlin or sentimental, yet his poems often get a 'rise' out of me. The immediacy of life and death is present in much of his poetry, which is one of the things that makes it so compelling. Indeed, to a city-dweller like myself, his poems are a breath of fresh air, as they remind me of the natural and primal struggles that I routinely avoid. Not all of his poems are so serious, though, as he can be very witty when the mood grabs him. His poems are metered and rhymed, and the majority are short, in the range of 4 to 15 lines, although there are quite a few over 20 lines. If you want to preview his poems, a selection can be found on my site, called 'The Poem Tree' (do a Google search to find the URL).