12: The Cottage Builder’s Letter

The Cottage Builder's LetterThe Cottage Builder’s Letter by George Murray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

From the Book Shop in Penticton.

Read in April 2013.

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Since it was poetry month, I thought I’d read some poetry. This one’s been on my to-read shelf for a while (how long? not sure. I think it’s probably from my 2009 trip to the Book Shop). You may be familiar with George Murray as the proprietor of the (sadly no-longer-updated) book blog Bookninja.

Most of the poems in The Cottage Builder’s Letter are narrative poems (stories in poetry), many of them multi-part. A number of the poems are semi-formal in construction, e.g. poems consisting of all 3-line stanzas or all 2-line stanzas, poems where a phrase/word sequence is repeated in each line or stanza.

This was one of those books that I wanted to like more than I did. The writing was good; the poems skillfully composed, but for whatever reason, I didn’t really connect with them. Maybe it was that there were too many unfamiliar references. I’m not sure.

I did like this one, especially the last stanza:


Maybe you know how
to live in a way
that isn’t just about breathing,
but I don’t —
so please: reserve this
space for me.

(Rest here a moment
without thinking)

In what manner you choose
to keep your books:
I know this little part of you,
hold it sacred —
it’s your other secrets,
if any, that are not safe with me.

The Cottage Builder’s Letter, 55