Chris Murray is a graduate of Art History and English Literature at UCD School of Art History and Cultural Policy. She qualified and worked as a conservation stone cutter with the Office of Public Works/Commissioners of Public Works in Ireland, in Counties Limerick and Kerry. She was primarily based at Ross Castle (Loch Lein, Killarney, Co. Kerry) and at Ardfert Cathedral among other places. Although Chris is primarily a page poet she has written poetry for vocal performance. Her "Lament for Three Women's Voices" was performed at The Béal Festival of New Music and Poetry (Smock Alley Theatre, 2012) and "Nocturne for Voices One and Two" will be produced as a sound piece by Una Lee in 2021.
Chris Murray's Turas Press profile is here. Her most recent book publications include A Hierarchy of A Halls (Smithereens Press) and bind (Turas Press) both 2018. Her new collection Gold Friend was published in September 2020 by Turas Press.
The below preamble and poems are excerpted from the Lares Series, composed between April 2020 and November 2020. The entire series can be read (and downloaded) Via Indelible Literary Journal. ‘Lares’ is dedicated in gratitude to Eavan Boland (1944-2020). The series derives from my current MSS in progress.
My most grateful thanks to Roula-Maria Dib and the board of Indelible for accepting the work.
Preamble Break the glass that shields morning's flame. Proceed from your room— IV. Soft, the softening rain Sing to pierce the breast — sing to pierce the breast, nighthooks brim to split. Sing to pierce the night— sing to pierce the night -hooks brim to split. Dawn’s contraction, slow the opening— orchid-white a Yellow toned-song to loosen the gum that holds peony’s ample heart. V. Lares Pause – I am night (dark) afraid. Begin now. Begun, My mourning for what was– (not) slaked by light’s coming. The Lares of my house is twice-lit: dawn’s advent, night’s candle. © Chris Murray 2021 Published Indelible Literary Journal Issue IV, Escapism.
Related links The Lares series: “Lares” series, by Christine Murray – Indelible Online URL for Indelible (AUD): Indelible – "Books. Cats. Life is Good." Download link: Indelible_Issue_4.pdf(Review)- Adobe Document Cloud 'red rose world' & 'addendum to': Poems by Christine Murray – Indelible
Contact Chris at c(dot)elizabethmurray(at)gmail(dot)com
A small collection of interrelated poems in series and sequence Cycles was published by Lapwing Press (2013). A book-length poem The Blind was published by Oneiros Books (2013). Her second book-length poem She published by Oneiros Books (2014). And Agamemnon Dead; an alternative collection of Irish poetry edited by Peter O’Neill and Walter Ruhlmann (2015). "A Modern Encounter with 'Foebus abierat', on Eavan Boland's "Phoebus Was Gone, all Gone, His Journey Over" for Eavan Boland: Inside History, published by Arlen House and edited by Nessa O'Mahony and Siobhán Campbell (2016). All The Worlds Between, Anthology, eds Srilata Krishnan and Fióna Bolger (Yoda Publishing, 2017), The Gladstone Readings, Anthology, Ed. Peter O'Neill (Famous Seamus Publishing, 2017). bind was published in October 2018. Gold Friend was published in September 2020 by Turas Press.
Her poetry has been collected in And Agamemnon Dead; an alternative collection of Irish poetry. edited by Peter O'Neill and Walter Ruhlmann (2015). Tiny Moments; An Anthology (2016) Edited by David Pring-Mill. Blackjack; A Contemporary Volume of Irish Poetry (2016) published by Singur Publishing, Romania. A Transitory House; a suite of poems (2016) first performed at Ó Bheal (Co. Cork, Ireland) and based on Freda Laughton’s Now I am a Tower of Darkness published by Limerick Writer's Centre in 1916 – 2016: An Anthology of Reactions (Edited by John Liddy & Dominic Taylor) All The Worlds Between, Anthology, eds Srilata Krishnan and Fióna Bolger (Yoda Publishing, 2017), The Gladstone Readings Anthology, Ed. Peter O'Neill (Famous Seamus Publishing, 2017)
Her individual, series, small group poems, and a review have been published in The Southword Literary Journal, Crannóg Magazine, Skylight 47, Bone Orchard Poetry, One (Jacar Press), The Burning Bush II, Poetry Bus Magazine, Post II (Mater Dei Institute) (Ireland). A New Ulster Magazine and The Honest Ulsterman (Northern Ireland). York Literary Review (U.K). Caper Literary Journal, Compose Journal and Ditch Poetry (US). Her translated work appears in Levure Littéraire Magazine (Germany & International), Recours au Poème Magazine (France), Şiirden Magazine ("Of Art", Turkey), Revisita Itaka (Romania), and Indelible Literary Journal (Dubai, UAE). American women's magazines When Women Waken Journal and WomenArts Quarterly Journal have published small series and single poems from her published collections.
Interviews and Media
This is an excerpt from a reflection on Gold Friend published online in the Irish Times (16/09/2020). Thanks very much to Martin Doyle who offered me the space to write about the book and about Poethead.
…The convergence of influence and imagery that is inherent in Gold Friend began at Drimnagh Castle and works from there into other places and into other books too. The gold friend is both a literary device and an absent person who acts as a passive receptor of knowledge. The gold friend is disembodied, and cannot access the sensory world, or experience it as we do,
Be near enough to the periphery
to discern the wing-settle-sounds
small birds make in thickets,
their halls –
Near enough for red to insist
that you regard it as haw,
Know, bird-panic sounds
differently to wing-settle’s
soft-rest after the flurry of
– they say
07/09/2020 Elegy and Displacement in ‘Gold Friend’ – at Writing.ie
The title of my book is Gold Friend. The phrase or image associated with it is derived from an Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer which is rooted in elegy and in personal displacement. These are the themes of the book, which I will allude to a bit later on in this short essay.
Gold Friend began, as my books do, from a collection of small themed notebooks. In this case, it originally comprised five small books that were loosely thematically related according to how I compose or create the poem image
Read more here
Fill Your Books (June 2020)
(...) Eavan Boland: Inside History which I contributed to. I wrote the chapter “A Modern Encounter With Foebus Abierat” - based on Eavan Boland’s translation of “Phoebus was gone, all gone, his journey over” which I felt encapsulated Eavan Boland’s ideas as a woman and a poet. The kernel of the translation is of female transgression against the established order. Eavan asked to meet me and was delighted with the essay. I think meeting her meant so much to me as a poet and we remained in touch over the last four years of her life, through committee work, or meetings, or emails. She picked me up after a bad burn-out and I am very grateful to have known her. We need to talk about her interventions in the areas of equality and diversity. I am linking the poem here.
Le Ortique (of the deformed canon) June 2020
The Irish literary canon is a failure, it omits, it cannot withstand interrogation and its base is sexist. I stopped listening years ago and made my own spaces, I encourage others to do the same. (Read more here)
On The Seawall (June 2020)
I had read Emilia Philips’ poem “Scar” on the Academy Of American Poets website and had seen some tweets about writing trauma at a time of great preoccupation with my own surgical recovery. A prolonged process. There are ten active folders on my desktop. Four of these are image folders containing artwork that revives and enlivens me. Four of the folders are manuscripts, in proofs, unfinished, or just begun. One of these manuscripts now consists of 13 pages. The last folder, the one that hides amid this great hope, these works in progress, is the scar folder. (Read more here)
Live Encounters (March 2020)
Thriving Outside of the Narrative, an essay on poetic practice
The individual poet navigates the personal within their own language-ecology, be their art textual or performative. Poets are makers of books, and book-making is not about rushing hidebound into a narrative expectation that requires conformity in how it should be. The art of the poet and their relation to language should stand apart from narrative concerns, and be responsive alone to the interiority of the poet. However, we live in an age where it is quite easy to exert pressures on the poet to conform to linguistic and other ideologies that do not reflect their own relation to language and to their personal symbol use. The job of the academy and the vaunted book publishing industry who may, for instance, desire their eco-crisis to be delivered in short sharp dilutable doses is to follow the poet. It is not their role to impose a narrative that amounts to a concoction of ideological stances having nothing to do with the poet’s relationship to their art. (Read more here ...)
Irish Times (September 2019)
"Faced with the catastrophic canonical neglect of Irish women poets and writers in very real terms, there are many responses. Those of interrogation, of anger, of reclamation and of healing. These responses have all occurred, are continuing to occur among women writers across literary genres.
In her article, A profound deafness to the female voice (The Irish Times, April 18th, 2018), Sinéad Gleeson examines our responses as the women who have been left to reclaim our narrative heritages. Once again, it is up to women to use their time to respond, to do the corrective work of calling out male editors, and how this eats up their creative time, steering the focus away from their own work."
An Interview with Moyra Donaldson at Honest Ulsterman (Feb. 2019)
"The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets (2017) catalysed a lot of discussion on the canon and its absences. There was a lot of talk about how we could approach this problem, which we all believe represented another iteration of a consistent problem. Each poet or academic involved has their own take, their own story, on how the absence of women has affected their work, esteem or their sense of the appalling lack in respect for the woman poet’s voice. Mine is simple, I do not want to be part of a generation of writers that did not face this and interrogate that absence. I do not want my daughter’s generation doing the work of interrogation and asking why we, now, are too lazy or complacent or afraid to question the Irish perception of poetic authority. I am not someone who feels that it is right to walk away."
(Read more here)
Irish Times (October 2019)
"I am a poet without a landscape, a woman poet without a narrative heritage. I began tracing the huge startling landscape of US and European women’s poetry while in college. I could not find its equivalent here in Ireland. bind reflects the facts of absence and fragmentation in my poetry landscape, and the absence of women poets in our cultural narrative. bind is a book-length poem loosely divided into chapters. These chapters act as boundaries within the action of the poem and provide gateways to differing aspects of the processes inherent in bind. The title of the book takes its name from the triple hyphenation that occurs irregularly within the first chapter. bind explores movement, objects, and colours that occur in a no-place, a stasis, the fragmented landscape,"
‘I am a poet without a landscape, a woman poet without a narrative heritage’, a reflection on bind at The Irish Times
Peter O'Neill on She and Cycles at Live Encounters
'In She Christine Murray takes a figure from ancient Irish mythology the Sí, as in the shee in Banshee for example, who are powerful feminine forces in pre-Christian Irish folklore, taking on the many guises. In Murray’s She they are represented by the Crow Woman, symbolised by a black feather. And it is with this singular image, of a black crow’s feather, that Murray enters the text:
A black feather
black feather tree
she has spread
her blacks out
for carrion lovers
Lace their moons with trawling nets
bird-pecked crabbed and sweet apple
roll them into grass
bamboo worms a curve into flared ground
black feather sways down
to this waking place/
(Read the full review here)
Bangor Literary Journal
Interview and poems at The Bangor Literary Journal [PDF]
About Poethead, An interview about the foundation and development of Poethead at Lagan Online
"I saw an opportunity to create a space for sharing poetry and poetry translations online some nine years ago. I did not envisage that it would be a long term project at all. I view Poethead as my site primarily, there just happen to be two indexes built into it where I have listed contemporary, translated, experimental and ‘hidden’ poetry. I rarely solicit work from poets, mostly they contact me. In some cases I have had to contact poetry editors for copyright permission. There is always quite an amount of correspondence in my email. As I only publish weekly, in as much as I can. The publication list is rolling (ongoing)."
(Read more here)
The Pan Review
"I read everything by Plath and moved on rapidly to (Anne) Sexton, Ní Dhomhnaill, Boland, Mina Loy, and H.D. I educated myself in the UCD library and from there began a lifetime of searching for a quality of voice that I felt as 'absence'. I began to read translated works also including Nagy, Sachs, Tuominen, Lorca and others. When I left college I took that sound with me. I got my degree in Art History and English, although the only thing that interested me in English was Old and Middle English."
On publishing women, cultural absence and how to change things at The Pan Review
Issue 61, The North
Into the Light Blown Dark; Working with Freda Laughton’s ‘Now I am a Tower of Darkness’
Freda Laughton produced one book of poetry, A Transitory House (Jonathan Cape, 1945). At the time of the book’s publication, Freda Laughton would have been thirty-eight years old. Laughton’s chosen sphere was the female intimate, and within this context she was an expressionist of some ability. Her work presaged that of Eavan Boland and of Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill. There is a certain fragility and darkness in Laughton’s expression which imbues it with shadow. Her art was masterful, not least in the following poem,
‘In a Transitory Beauty’,
‘Maternal the shell
Cradling the embryo bird,
A transitory house,
Fashioned for brief security,
Of purposeful fragility,
A beauty built to be broken.'
(by Freda Laughton)
Order the Magazine here.
Three Red Things (Smithereens Press, 2013)
Cycles (Lapwing Press, 2013)
*The Blind (Oneiros Books, 2013)
*She (Oneiros Books, 2014)
Signature (Bone Orchard Press, 2014)
And Agamemnon Dead; An Anthology of Early 21st Century Irish Poetry (Peter O'Neill and Walter Ruhlmann)
Eavan Boland: Inside History (Arlen house, 2016)
The Gladstone Readings Anthology (Famous Seamus, 2017)
A Hierarchy of Halls (Smithereens Press, 2018)
bind (Turas Press, 2018)
Gold Friend (Turas Press, 2020)
- I have temporarily removed the Oneiros book links due to a failed landing page (on their part) and will update here when I investigate the issue.
A Selection From My Publications
'small mirror' at The Honest Ulsterman
'narcissus' and 'stalk the open ring' at Compose Journal (Spring 2017)
A series from The Blind at Ditch Poetry
From Cycles at Recours au Poème
Three Red Things at Smithereens Press
Glendalough; at Iseult Gonne's Grave at Levure littéraire
Sans at The Southword Journal