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Conscious and Verbal
ISBN: 978 1 857544 53 4
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: October 1999
216 x 135 x 6 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
When we went down the hollow
under the stormcloud nations
the light was generalised there
from vague glass places in the trees
and the colours were moist and zinc,
submerged and weathered and lichen
with black aisles and white poplar blues.
from 'The Mowed Hollow'
Conscious and Verbal is Les Murray's first book since his celebrated verse novel Fredy Neptune, described by Peter Porter in the Independent as,
'a true verse novel, not just a tour de force but a sustained piece of storytelling in
poetry.' Conscious and Verbal is full of stories, too: political stories as in the harrowing 'At the Swamping of Categories'; love stories, epithalamia and celebrations; curious 'Sound Bites'; and the wonderfully fluid rhythmic surprise of poems such as 'Music to Me is Like Days'. The story behind the title poem has to do with the nearly fatal illness of the poet. When he was declared 'conscious and verbal' it was clear that he would survive, and the work he has produced since then he has described as 'posthumous', illuminated by various previously unseen and wonderfully shimmering lights. He has always had a vision of how things are; now he sees how they might be. Derek Walcott says,
'There is no poetry in the English language so rooted in its sacredness, so broad-leafed in its pleasures, and yet so intimate and
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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