Waiting for the Past by Les Murray AO
About the author
Les Murray lives in Bunyah, near Taree in New South Wales. He has published some 30 books. His work is studied in schools and universities around Australia and has been translated into several foreign languages. In 1996 he was awarded the T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry, in 1998 the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry, and in 2004 the Mondello Prize. His most recent collections of work published by Black Inc. include The Biplane Houses, Fredy Neptune, Killing the Black Dog and Waiting For the Past.
About the book
The new volume of poems by Les Murray AO—his first in five years—continues his use of molten language. From 'The Black Beaches' to 'Radiant Pleats, Mulgoa', from 'High Speed Trap Space' to '1960 Brought the Electric', this is verse that renews and transforms our sense of the world. In the words of Clive James: “No poet has ever travelled like this, whether in reality or simply in mind. Seeing the shape or hearing the sound of one thing in another, he finds forms.”
The latest collection from Les Murray, Waiting for the Past, has attracted international acclaim other writers might find enviable. The Atlantic called him “our greatest living English-language poet” and the TLS (Times Literary Supplement) described “how brilliantly he can compress infinite riches”. Yet Murray’s main competition is not other poets, but his own previous work. If the poems in this book—a series of terse prose-like observations and rejoinders—are measured against the entire body of writing he has produced, it must be seen as one of his lesser collections. This is not a failure. The slightest of Murray’s poems still possess qualities no other Australian poet can match, as he is able to portray the “vertical black suburb/ of glued-on prism cells” that is a beehive in a brief poem that nonetheless swoops all the way from the present scene to the landscape’s Aboriginal pre-history.