les is more (baroque)

Les Murray, Australia’s largest and most cantankerous poet and one of my favourites, is in a bit of a kerfuffle. Asked to write a blurb for someone, he replied to the publisher that he was tired of being asked to provide free services, and proposed a deal wherein if the publisher would look at a certain manuscript by Mrs Murray, he would gladly write the blurb.

The publisher has taken umbrage, and there have been words.

The Age, in Australia, reports:

“Contacted yesterday, Murray dismissed the letter as ‘a joke’ and said his intention was to say no to the publisher, ‘but I said it in a baroque way’. Told it did not read like a joke, he replied: “It reads like, ‘Piss off,’ actually.

For 40 years, he said, ‘people have been preying on me for free services and this is only a desire to stir trouble’.

Anyway, he said: ‘Blurbs are nonsense — they’re all hyperbole and hype’.”

Of course, I hate to have to point out that I myself have recently been in the ignominious position of approaching people for blurbs – or “endorsements” – and it is a hideous, gruelling business. All you can do is be businesslike about it. I feel for the poor sod whose publisher was trying to get the blurb from Murray, but at least he wasn’t asking directly…

But you know, I have heard Les Murray read, and he was wonderful. He’s very charismatic and a good speaker. I love his work. He’s made his career out of more of a plain-speaking thing, the humble guy (with a chip on his shoulder) and all that, but maybe he’s turning more baroque as he gets older. Maybe I should write to him, one baroque to another, and try my luck. I just need to think of some sort of proposal…

Hat tip to Mark Granier for the story…

nb: I am in love with that picture. Isn’t it great?

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