Poetry Month 2015: Jim Murdoch


  1. Jim Murdoch
    Jim Murdoch April 9, 2015 at 6:47 pm .

    I dislike the Romantic notion of a muse but I do get where Borges is coming from. After that three years of writing nothing I literally sat down to write an anything, a something-that-wasn’t-a-poem just to feel what it was like to make up sentences. What I ended up producing were two novels back to back. The poetry returned shortly thereafter but it was a while before I became my old self. I’ve been writing poetry for forty years so you give me a prompt and I’ll write you a poem but I can pretty much guarantee that it won’t be my best work. I’ve long accepted that a writer—at least this writer—is comprised of two parts, the ideas guy and the guy to types up his stuff. The ideas guy can be a bit sloppy and so the other guy, like any half-decent secretary, does more than transcribe; he tidies up the material. Although I’ve written stories and novels when I look in the mirror I see a poet. I can live with calling myself a writer but it’s the poetry that sustains me. I think of my poetry as pure. I work over the prose mercilessly but the poetry never needs it. I’ll tweak a word or two here and work out the line breaks but that’s about it. Problem with the ideas guy is he doesn’t like to repeat himself and the older I get the less he’s got left to say. I never know when a poem’s coming. It’s like what I wrote in ‘The Poetry of Regrets’:

    Poems turn up out of the blue these days
    like family
    but you don’t turn family away. Not ever.

  2. Jim Murdoch
    Jim Murdoch April 9, 2015 at 6:02 am .

    I’m always fascinated by the poems people choose. I’ll send half a dozen into some magazine and it’ll be the one I stuck in to make up the numbers they’ll pick. But that’s the great thing about it because it makes me look at a poem with fresh eyes: Why that one? And, of course, you had nearly a hundred to pick from. So why this one? It’s a rhetorical question. I’m not expecting a serious answer—you probably couldn’t answer it—but I can’t say I’m displeased with your choice. I was quite prolific about the time I wrote this piece. B. was the closest thing to a muse I’ve ever had and I think more poems were written for her than anyone else including my wives. After she moved away I fell into a slump and didn’t write a thing for three years.

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