"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
click HERE and access his website
Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Secrets of the Sea: New Poetry

My new poetry pamphlet, The Secrets of the Sea (Melos) is launched on 8th September in London but if you would like to buy a copy now you can do so, post free, from Melos direct.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Poetry and Politics

Below is a contribution I made to Poets for Corbyn  an e-book of 21 poems by various hands, just published, expressing support for what seems to be, to this contributor at least, a new movement on the left of British politics towards remaking the Labour Party after the fiasco of the recent election.  I don't like personality cults in politics but this seems to be different and an important re-alignment about which the conservative Labour pragmatists and old-fashioned Blairites seem to have nothing useful to say except to blow raspberries.

There are those who argue that, in Auden's much-quoted line, "poetry makes nothing happen", and the English, as opposed to many European or Latin American poets, have (nearly) always preferred this elegant fence-sitting to any kind of vulgar engagement.  Poetry can be crude and propagandist.  It can also be subtle, intelligent and resourceful when it engages with politics and partisanship is no worse for a poet than a citizen.  I am not a purist.

My contribution is in the Burns stanza I have used before, notably in my long poem Get Real! (2011). Burns didn't actually invent this stanza, though he was its best known practitioner.  It is sometimes called "the standard Habbie",  after the piper Habbie Simpson (1550–1620) about whom a Lament was was written in the form.  It's great fun to use. I hope it is also entertaining and amusing to read.

The ebook can be downloaded for free by following the link in my opening sentence.


Like sheep who’ve scattered to the field’s high corner,
the commentariat – now hunted fauna –
together cling.
The practised put-downs, and the usual sneers,
predictable pandering to baser fears,
the lazy tricks that served for years
no longer sing.

Pundits and pollsters, penny-a-liners,
effortless liars and maligners,
pieces pitched,
to Guardian or 4 no longer hack it.
The zeitgeist’s moved; they can no longer track it
and there’s a note inside the salary packet:
you’re ditched!

Chancellor Osborne’s undeterred,
and gives his underlings the word:
Class-warrior of an antique kind
he makes his colleagues of one mind
to hound the workers from behind.
A pack

of snapping Tory dogs
emerging from the autumn fogs
The ‘enemy within’ attracts their curses
(that’s dinner ladies, carers, nurses
who learn there’s little in their purses).
It’s the cult

of settling scores, unleashing dogs of war
(though strikes are fewer than before).
They winch
their arses to the saddle, salivating,
excited by the prey that’s waiting,
eased by commentators’ Left-baiting:
a cinch.

Their anti-union bill’s revealed,
and like a rotten fruit when peeled
it’s vile
inside: more harsh than any iron regime
has yet to implement, or even dream,
where strikers must declare the theme
of any Tweet

before releasing it or face a fine or gaol:
that’s Britain now where oppositions fail
to fight.
Until J.C. discovers that the old and young
are eager to bite back, give tongue
to protest, scrap the song that’s sung
stage Right.

Its mandate twenty five per cent of votes,
the Government each day emotes:
until our ears become resistant to the sound,
detect the lie that is its constant ground,
refuse the claim that they have found
a ‘norm’.

Corbyn’s no knight in shining vest,
or bright Messiah from the West
(he’d say)
but someone who has found a way to voice
a fractured country’s need for choice,
to say we’ll make another kind of noise:
No way!