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Award-winning Australian Poet
Les Murray
Les Murray

March 26, 2003

4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar
Standish Room, New Library

8:00 p.m. Reading
Recital Hall, PAC

UAlbany, Uptown Campus

Australian poet Les Murray is renowned for his rough style, biting humor, verbal inventiveness and love of nature. Murray often writes about the unique Australian landscape, man's destruction of the planet, and the working-class people of his native country.

"the most arresting and angular poet to come out of Australia" in many years, while finding pleasure in his "burly, somewhat shambling style. . .odd and clumsy and hard to categorize, like a platypus." - Poetry Magazine

"With armloads of international awards, over a dozen collections of poems and essays, and a spectacular verse-novel. . .the plainspoken and combative Murray is by most reckonings Australia's leading poet." - Publishers Weekly

Murray's latest collection is Poems the Size of Photographs (2002). As the title suggests, the poems are short and imagistic, most of them fewer than 20 lines long. The book itself has square dimensions like a large photo.

Poes the Size of Photographs

". . .one of Murray's most consistently enjoyable books." - The Age (Australian Newspaper)

"a nice mix and miscellany of varying pieces. Some close-ups, some wide-angle shots, some candid, some crisp, some slightly blurred. . .They are the work of a mature (and talented) poet, who knows what he is capable of, and is still willing to take some risks." - The Complete Review e-zine

Murray's 1999 verse novel Fredy Neptune, is the story of a large gentle Australian traveler who witnesses some of the worst atrocities of the 20th century, including the Armenian genocide and Hitler's Holocaust.

Fredy Nepture

". . .a hunting, loving, fiercely democratic epic by a master poet." - The New York Times Book Review

". . . the best very long poem in English for some time. . .so compulsively readable and so consistently good as to make all his previous work seem mere preparations." - Stephen Burt, London Review of Books

Written after his recovery from a life-threatening stroke in 1996, Conscious and Verbal (1999) takes its title from an Australian news report about Murray's condition after emerging from a three week coma. Though the work avoids treating his experience of catastrophic illness directly, the poems reflect the heightened consciousness of a man who has nearly died and is newly alive to the world.

Conscious and Verbal: Poems

"Eerie, frightening and beautiful." - Elle Magazine

Murray's other works include Learning Human (2000), a selection of the poet's best work dating back to 1965, which the Antioch Review proclaimed "a bountiful feast of language"; Subhuman Redneck Poems (1997), which received the United Kingdom's prestigious T. S. Eliot Prize; and Translations from the Nature World: Poems (1994), in which Murray takes on the voices of fish, plants, animals and birds. In a review of Translation that appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Lachalan Mackinnon called Murray, "one of the very finest poets in whom the English language is now at work."

Less Murray is the author of more than 20 books. He lives on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia.

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