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The Quality of Sprawl

I've come across poems by Australian poet Les Murray here and there - in anthologies, online, and in magazines like a recent issue of Poetry London (Autumn '08, above) - but haven't yet bought a collection of his work. I'm thinking of ordering his Selected from Carcanet soon though, as I was reminded of what I admire in his work reading 'The Quality of Sprawl' in Shapcott and Sweeney's excellent Faber anthology, Emergency Kit, last night: the verbal dexterity, originality and often dark humour, though the unswerving certitude of some of his poems can get a bit irritating. Still, 'The Quality of Sprawl' is a fine piece, and one which uses the conversational, narrative style to great effect, I think.

It's one of his more well-known poems, but for those unfamiliar, you can read it here.

Comments

Andrew Shields said…
My favorite Murray is the absolutely overwhelming verse novel "Fredy Neptune," one of the most amazing books I have ever read.

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About the Author

Welcome to the website of the English poet and critic, Ben Wilkinson.
Ben was born in Staffordshire and now lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire. He received his first degree from the University of Sheffield, and holds an MA and PhD from Sheffield Hallam University. He has won numerous awards for his poetry, including the Poetry Business Competition and a 2014 Northern Writers' Award
His debut full collection of poems, Way More Than Luck, appeared from Seren Books in February 2018.
He is a keen distance runner, lifelong Liverpool Football Club fan, and among other things he works as poetry critic for The Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement. You can find many of his reviews on this site.
To contact Ben about readings, workshops, or for any other enquiries, you can drop him a line at benwilko(at sign)gmail.com. Unfortunately, I am not able to consider unsolicited requests from authors for book reviews.

You can follow Ben on Twitter - @BenWilko85 - and on Facebook.

You can find B…

Way More Than Luck (Seren Books, 2018)

From the thumping heartbeat of the distance runner to the roar of football terraces across the decades, Ben Wilkinson’s debut confronts the struggles and passions that come to shape a life. Beginning with an interrogation of experiences of clinical depression and the redemptive power of art and running, the collection centres on a series of vivid character portraits, giving life to some of football's legends. By turns frank, comic, sinister and meditative – ‘the trouble with you, son, is that all your brains are in your head’ – these poems uncover the beautiful game’s magic and absurdity, hopes and disappointments, as striking metaphors for our everyday dramas. Elsewhere there are tender love poems, political satire and strange dream worlds, in an urgently lyrical book of poems that take many forms and modes of address: pantoum, sonnet, sestina; epistle, confession, dramatic monologue. All are united by a desire to speak with searching clarity about matters of the heart. Way More …