The Biplane Houses Poems

Les Murray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374531285

9780374531287

Trade Paperback

112 Pages

$14.00

CAD16.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
A San Francisco Chronicle Notable Book of the Year 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.

REVIEWS

Praise for The Biplane Houses

"Murray is a genial companion, an amiable, appealing reciter, and a snappy commentator on the lazy, cowardly thinking that passes for informed criticism . . . The book's title comes from the last line of 'The Shining Slopes and Planes,' a kindly poem in which Murray celebrates as social avatar a carpenter who goes up the sides and over the roof of his house, clearing the gutters of wiry green Alpine grass. The images are effective. The specifics are competent. The poetry is pleasantly fresh. There's appealing warmth and easy charm in Murray's informed but relaxed attitude, which must endear his open poetry to any reader."—F. D. Reeve, The Antioch Review
 
"The most impressive thing about [these] new poems is their capacity, writing 'with a whole heart,' to find the pathos in unlikely subjects,."—Dan Ciasson, The New Yorker
 
"The Biplane Houses offers challenges and pleasures to readers who appreciate that 'punning moves toward music.'"—San Francisco Chronicle
 
"The best writer of poety in English."—Fraser Sutherland, The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
 
"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
 
"The latest from Australia's most eminent living poet may be his best since 1999's Fredy Neptune. Perennially rumored for the Nobel shortlist, Murray pursues in off-rhymed stanzas and confident verse-paragraphs his signature mix of subjects: rural Australia and the dignity of rural labor; his own Scottish-Australian farming heritage and Catholic faith; the bounty and diversity of nature; the hypocrisy, cruelty and self-destructive overconfidence of cosmopolitan, secular civilization. Murray's vivid world includes unparalleled descriptions of flora and fauna—'dolphins, like 3D surfboards/ born in the ocean'—and quips about social class, housing, transport, belief and doubt, with some insights no one else could have: 'Whatever the great religions offer/ it is afterlife their people want.' His lines, as always, are mouthfuls, sometimes awkward, sometimes winning in their sheer force. Though he can be unfair to his political targets—satirizing gentrifical force (i.e., gentrification, bourgeois tastes, hipness) as if it were a horseman of the apocalypse—the emotion is genuine and carries with it not only a defense of working people's farms, of beautiful innocents and unpretentious families, but a very modern understanding of the ways in which our modern lifestyles have put our planet at risk."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Les Murray is the author of twelve books of poetry. Subhuman Redneck Poems (FSG, 1997) received the T. S. Eliot Prize, and in 1998 Queen Elizabeth presented him with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. He lives on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia.
Read the full excerpt
BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Les Murray

  • Les Murray is the author of twelve books of poetry. Subhuman Redneck Poems (FSG, 1997) received the T. S. Eliot Prize, and in 1998 Queen Elizabeth presented him with the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He lives on a farm on the north coast of New South Wales, Australia.
  • Les Murray Copyright Peter Solness
    Les Murray
BACK