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Very Far North Hardcover – December 31, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Between the Lines; 1St Edition edition (December 31, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904130011
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904130017
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,037,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Murphy on July 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not reviewing my own book, just expressing my concern that the first five reviews of VFN below are authored by Leo Yankevitch, who slips in a rave of his own self-published book. Yankevitch has also posted pseudonymous negative reviews of Rhina Espaillat, Kate Benedict, Alicia Stallings, and many other fine formal poets. It is a despicable practice, and Amazon should find a way to screen this person out.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Caleb Murdock on June 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Timothy Murphy continues to be one of my favorite poets. He writes in a clear, concise, musical style reminiscent of Robert Francis and Robert Frost, although he is never derivative. He writes about life as a farmer and rancher on the Midwestern plains, about nature, and about love and spirituality (among other things). He is never maudlin or sentimental, yet his poems often get a "rise" out of me. The immediacy of life and death is present in much of his poetry, which is one of the things that makes it so compelling. Indeed, to a city-dweller like myself, his poems are a breath of fresh air, as they remind me of the natural and primal struggles that I routinely avoid. Not all of his poems are so serious, though, as he can be very witty when the mood grabs him.
His poems are metered and rhymed, and the majority are short, in the range of 4 to 15 lines, although there are quite a few over 20 lines. If you want to preview his poems, a selection can be found on my site, called "The Poem Tree" (do a Google search to find the URL).
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By David Gwilym Anthony on March 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Tim Murphy is one of the most distinguished contemporary American formalist poets.
Very Far North is a fine collection of (mostly) short poems, deeply rooted in his experience as a farmer in the American Midwest. It encapsulates the wisdom and humour of a man who has spent his life on the land, close to nature.
His work is characterised by simple, clear imagery and precise thought, as in this moving tribute to Robert Penn Warren:
Red Like Him
He was tutor to a lad
he never really knew -
only the shock of red
like sunrise on a slough.

Out for an autumn walk
I hear the great geese cry
and hail a red-tailed hawk
spiralling up the sky.

He's also a master of the sonnet form. This poem won the prestigious Nemerov Award. It's quoted by Anthony Hecht in his introduction to Very Far North, and is one of the finest contemporary sonnets I know, bearing comparison with Robert Frost:

The Track Of A Storm
Bastille Day, 1995
We grieve for the twelve trees we lost last night,
pillars of our community, old friends
and confidants dismembered in our sight,
stripped of their crowns by the unruly winds.
There were no baskets to receive their heads,
no women knitting by the guillotines,
only two sleepers rousted from their beds
by fusillades of hailstones on the screens.
Her nest shattered, her battered hatchlings drowned,
a stunned and silent junko watches me
chainsawing limbs from corpses of the downed,
clearing the understory of debris
while supple saplings which survived the blast
lay claim to light and liberty at last.

If you like these poems you'll love the book.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The poet's first book had some moments of interest. I have to agree with the prior reviewer that things got much weaker as the book progressed: insufficient charge, lack of dynamic, failure to come alive off the page, absence of organic vitality or variety after awhile.
With this collection, the same weaknesses manifest themselves. Much more reminiscent of Robert Francis (hard to find anthologized or cited much anymore), and nowhere near the level of mastery, depth, profundity, multi-layered dimensions of Frost.
Uneven in quality. Some genuinely touching and heartfelt moments; some gravity; some wit. Some original music on occasion. But overall lacking the inspiration and sublime artistry of Wilbur, Hecht, Hardy, Betjeman, Larkin and the magnificent short pieces of Yeats, Auden, Robinson, Housman, de la Mare, Masefield, W. Owen, Sassoon, C. Rossetti, Bogan, Wylie, E. Jennings, Vikram Seth, Tim Steele, Dana Gioia, Heaney, Wordsworth, Blake, Geo. Herbert, Glyn Maxwell.
It is hoped the next collection will provide enough maturing, development, progression, freshness, and elements of what Harold Bloom in his just-out book calls 'Groundbreaking Genius' to rate the poetry higher on the rereadable-memorability scale
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "sashajunior" on April 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My Gay Studies' professor, (...) recommended that I read this book. I'll come straight out and say, that I found it somewhat disappointing. There must be a dozen poems in it about dogs, all of which are meticulously rhymed and metered, but all lacking verve and high seriousness.
Others deal with bird hunting, and business failures, but only a few have "gay" themes, among them a few man-boy poems, which I found very erotic, though somewhat over the top, even for my tastes.
I suppose my biggest problem with the poems are their forced rhymes, paddiness of diction, and artificial tone. Murphy never comes off as sincere. He knows his meters, but he sings like a queen in a bar full of breeders.
He should write solely for his own kind on topics such as gay pride and gay love.
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