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George "Book Ninja" Murray talks chaos, poetry and living a public life in tight-knit St. John's.

George Murray talks about how the poetic form allowed him to embrace chaos in his latest collection, Whiteout.

George Murray, author of Whiteout (ECW Press)

Whiteout is George Murray's sixth collection of poetry (ECW Press.) On the heels of Glimpse, the successful and playful book of aphorisms, Whiteout is decidedly more pensive, the result of change and chaos in Murray's own life.

We'd planned to meet in Trinity Bellwoods Park for a coffee and chat, but were forced indoors by the rain. The door that greeted us was Type Books where we holed up in the basement and talked, fittingly, about how the choice to let chaos exist often leads to the form out of which one makes sense of disorientation.

During the podcast, you'll hear the rumblings above us. Those would be customers coming in and out of the store, a most happy intrusion!

Other intrusions include: Did you know George Murray was once an actor? He talks about this, how he eventually came to be a writer and how he performed for years as "Book Ninja". Did you also know that George Murray is an amateur psychologist? I ask him to interpret me as his reader based on my favourite poem, and, boy, did he nail me!



From the podcast:

The World Goes Out Like an Old Television

It’s nothing so sudden as power loss—
you’ve turned this set off each night for years,
the picture always returns in the morning.

No, it’s something subtler, more natural,
a darkening under the skin—one night
the blue shudders a moment then returns,

another night the vertical goes,
the image getting up as though to leave.
And you just change the channel thinking

it must be the station’s fault, or you slap
the side of the box with a slipper
and when everything returns you dismiss

the possibility of coincidence
and think yourself quite the mechanic.
Then every night for a year you hit that thing

until finally the blue goes completely—
then the yellow-green, until it’s all some
bloody colour between red and black.

But by then your eyes, having grown accustomed,
can still see the image, and your ass,
so comfortable in the chair, doesn’t feel

the need to move so long as your foot
can kick out—and even during the well-lit days
you’re forever too busy with other

distractions to get it fixed. And so
when evening comes again you fool yourself
into thinking it’s good for a day more—

and on that final quiet afternoon
you didn’t know had arrived, in the middle
of your favourite show, when the picture shrinks

slowly to a bright dot, you aren’t aware,
because, squinting, you can still make out the shapes—
and even as the lights recedes totally,

infinity and zero meet, saving you
from ever noticing a thing. And when

everything finally goes black, you sit

still, waiting in the dark for such a long time.


Whiteout, by George Murray (ECW Press)

George Murray’s six books of poetry include Whiteout (ECW, 2012), Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms (ECW, 2010), The Rush to Here (Nightwood, 2007), The Hunter (McClelland & Stewart, 2003). He has been widely anthologized and has published poems and fiction in journals and magazines in Canada, the United States, Australia, and Europe. He is a former poetry editor for the Literary Review of Canada and has been a contributing editor for several journals, including Canadian Notes & Queries, Maisonneuve, and The Drunken Boat. He regularly reviews poetry and fiction for The Globe and Mail. He has won or been shortlisted for several awards, and has been on the part time faculty at University of Toronto, New School University, and Humber College. He lives in St. John’s, Newfoundland. From 2003 to 2011, he was the editor and operator of the popular literary website

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