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Subhuman Redneck Poems
ISBN: 978 1 857542 49 3
Categories: 20th Century, Australian, Catholic
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: September 1996
216 x 134 x 7 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
From just on puberty, I lived in funeral:
mother dead of miscarriage, father trying to be dead,
we'd boil sweat-brown cloth; cows repossessed the garden.
Lovemaking brought death, was the unuttered principle.
I met a tall adopted girl some kids thought aloof,
but she was intelligent. her poise of white-blonde hair
proved her no kin to the squat tanned couple who loved her.
Only now do I realise she was my first love.
But all my names were fat-names, at my new town school.
between classes, kids did erocide: destruction of sexual morale.
Mass refusal of unasked love; that works.
from 'Burning Want'
Winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 1997
'It would be as myopic to regard Mr Murray as an Australian poet as to call Yeats an Irishman. He is, quite simply, the one by whom the language lives,' Joseph Brodsky said. And Derek Walcott: 'There is no poetry in the English language so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.'
While Les Murray has been working on his massive new verse novel, the lyric and the satirical muses have not abandoned him. Subhuman Redneck Poems, with its rumbustious title, is Murray at his best. He challenges himself: to write an elegy for his father which is at once tender and harrowing, to write about his altering country, its history, landscapes and peoples. Murray is a poet of the sacred. He is also wise to this world.
Awards won by Les Murray Short-listed, 2015 T. S. Eliot Prize (Waiting for the Past ) Long-listed, 1994 for the Oxford Chair of Poetry. Winner, 1996 T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection. (Subhuman Redneck Poems) Winner, 1999 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
Praise for Les Murray 'Very occasionally you come across something on the page which makes you think ''you can't do any better than this.'' Perfection achieved.'
BBC Radio 4's Saturday Review 'Waiting for the Past is a brilliant collection by a brilliant poet.'
Anthony Domestico, Commonweal Magazine 'Les Murray's Taller When Prone shows a poetic master nimbly and lyrically at work. Now seventy-two, Murray writes with the bigness of soul of a person twice his age. This collection adds another chuckie to the cairn of a remarkable personal achievement. A Nobel Prize for that man, please.'
Robert Crawford, TLS Books Of The Year 2010
'There is no poetry in the English language now so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and conversational.'
Derek Walcott, The New Republic '...the true spokesman of the whole nation, the custodian of its soul... the most accomplished poet in Australia today, and among the half dozen most successful poets in the English language...'
Peter Porter 'Les Murray is writing poetry with a lyric grandeur and verbal resourcefulness that are reassuring.'
Mark Strand 'Les Murray is a major Australian poet of our time, full stop.'
Douglas Dunn 'It is wonderfully disciplined writing, offering what poetry and nothing else can offer, an art that arrests one's otherwise ever frustrated sense of the richness of the life that lives only for the moment.'
C.K.Stead, London Review of Books 'Critics speak of him as one of the finest poets writing in English today, one of the superleague which includes Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott and Joseph Brodsky.'
Blake Morrison, Independent on Sunday
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