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April 05th 2011 print

Les Murray in NYT

A new book by Les Murray, Quadrant’s literary editor, was reviewed in The New York Times at the weekend.

A new book by Les Murray, Quadrant’s literary editor, was reviewed in The New York Times at the weekend:

Les Murray and the Poetry of Depression

Meghan O’Rourke

The signature quality of a Les Murray poem is anger — a visceral smoldering that freshly lights up the tired old landscape and turns conventional pieties inside out. A lifelong outsider and champion of the underdog, Murray grew up among impoverished farmers in rural Australia, where, as an overweight “redneck” teenager, he was mercilessly tormented at school. Today he is the closest thing Australia has to a national poet. A sui generis autodidact (he now suspects he has Asperger’s syndrome) equipped with a fierce moral vision and a sensuous musicality, he writes subtly about post­colonialism, urban sprawl and poverty and, in his most intimate poems, reminds us of the power of literature to transubstantiate grievance into insight. (His admirers have argued he ought to be considered for a Nobel.) But he is equally capable of writing emotionally simplistic and strangely soured poems in which the enraged adolescent emerges all but unmediated. This mercurial doubleness can make his work hard to categorize or describe: this is a mind at once revolutionary and reactionary. Or maybe just a poet who’s willing to show more id than most.

Read The New York Times’s review of Killing the Black Dog: A Memoir of Depression here…