Maisonneuve has posted on their blog an interview I recently conducted with poet and aphorist George Murray about his forthcoming book, Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms. Not sure what an aphorism has to do with a poet living in scenic St. John’s? There’s only one way to find out (see below).
It’s really a great publication. Maisonneuve provides a range of articles on a variety of relevant subject areas. Check it out if you get the chance. As far as the interview goes, below’s a teaser (you can get the full scoop here):
SR: You mentioned that many of these aphorisms were “harvested” from other poems or notes you’ve jotted down over the years, while others were written later once the collection as a whole began to take shape. It’s one thing to find jewels of image and phrase among the deeper context of a fully developed poem, but how exactly does one go about writing aphorisms from scratch? Do you consider aphorisms possible springboards to larger poems or is the reverse true: that they come from a paring down of larger pieces?
GM: Well, I suppose there are many ways to concoct an aphorism, the most common of which for me was the “epiphany”. Many of the aphorisms in Glimpse sprang fully formed into my head in reaction to something I’d seen or read or pondered. A couple stabs at the idea and there it was. Some of them came out fully formed as witticisms in speech as I spoke with friends or colleagues. I may have tinkered with the phrasing afterward, but generally the piece appeared in the spirit of the moment, as close to the original impulse as possible. Others just appeared in my notes as a thought that I presumably had one night and forgot about the next day. A third way was in looking at a failed poem with a compelling idea and distilling it.
I suppose these aphorisms could be a spring board to longer poems, but so far not for me. I hope some of them are for others who might find an idea or phrase compelling enough to run with and develop into something longer that takes it in new directions.