George Murray, poet, aphorist, and blogger (born at ON, 1971). George Murray is respected among his contemporaries as a talented formal technician with work in forms of POETRY as diverse as the sonnet, the aphorism, and a number of free verse traditions.
George Murray, poet, aphorist, and blogger (born at ON, 1971). George Murray is respected among his contemporaries as a talented formal technician with work in forms of POETRY as diverse as the sonnet, the aphorism, and a number of free verse traditions. His work has been shortlisted for the CANADIAN AUTHORS ASSOCIATION (CAA) Poetry Prize, the Atlantic Poetry Prize, and the Pushcart Prize. Murray was also the co-founder and chief creative force behind the popular book blog Bookninja.
While known primarily for his formal invention, Murray has produced numerous books that contain a majority of poems written to free-verse or "breath pulse" prosody, rather than some specific formal regulation. His debut Carousel: A Book of Second Thoughts (Exile, 2000) was followed quickly by two collections from MCCLELLAND & STEWART (The Cottage Builder's Letter, 2001 and The Hunter, 2003) which were published while Murray was living out of the country, in New York City. After the two collections of formal experimentation described in more detail below, he returned to the more diverse operations of his free-verse collections with 2012's Whiteout from ECW Press.
Murray's philosophical free-verse collections display much of the same technical virtuosity as his sonnets and aphorisms, and are known for their attention paid to metre and rhythm, though said attention does not always dictate a strict repeated foot. While these books are marked by their diversity, recurring themes include travel, morality, marriage and art.
Murray's collection The Rush to Here (Nightwood, 2007) was a book of sonnets written with the formal invention of what Murray called "thought rhymes," wherein end-words were paired not by sonically similar final syllables but on shared elements of meaning or etymology, such as the "rhyming" couplets found here:
What I don't understand is how to decide
between beauties, how to know if the best choice
for the empty plot is an English garden
or a uniform bed of French poppies.
The follow-up to The Rush to Here was also written in a single repeating form, the aphorism. Inspired by a meeting at Princeton University with the American aphorist James Richardson, Murray harvested his notebooks to produce a collection of 409 one-line poems for a book called Glimpse (ECW, 2010) that touched on everything from art theory to political philosophy to relationships, topics familiar to Murray's readers but novelly presented in the pithy and tight form. Glimpse is also notable among collections of aphorisms for aspiring to what the author called "a sort of sine-wave of thought and sub-narrative" wherein themes and questions ascend, repeat and descend, in contrast to the genre's more traditional approaches, where the very disorder of the varied themes are often considered an aesthetic ideal.
Murray's most popular invention may be the literary blog Bookninja, which began in 2003 and rose to become one of the world's foremost sources of book industry information, rumour and discussion, with a peak daily viewership of over 10,000. As the blog's most regular contributor and co-founder, with the novelist Peter Darbyshire, Murray's acerbic and often aphoristic take on PUBLISHING news made Bookninja the centre of the industry discussion within Canada and beyond. The blog became a reference for both industry publications like QUILL & QUIRE and general publications such as the New York Times. Murray closed the Bookninja blog in 2012, citing family and professional commitments.
James Geary, The World in a Phrase: A Brief History of the Aphorism (2005); Carmine Starnino (ed), The Best Canadian Poetry in English, 2012 (2012).