Friday, 8 May 2009

Michael Murphy

Just before I leave for Oxford, the heartbreakingly sad news of the death of the poet and critic Michael Murphy, younger by a good twenty years than I am, of a brain tumour. Michael had been ill a long time - but this only makes it worse. Far fewer people will have heard of Michael than of, say, U. A. Fanthorpe, but his late poems are magnificent, as good as anything written in these isles, and I fully intend saying so. Michael's partner is the poet Deryn Rees-Jones. They have two very young very bright children. Oh life, life. How dreadful it can be. Sweet, gentle, good, passionate man.

I will write more on Michael in due course.


Rob said...

That's very sad news. I didn't know him at all, of course, but I bought his last pamphlet after reading about it on your blog and thought it was really good. My condolences to his partner and family.

Tuebrook Tart said...

Michael was my tutor when I did a poetry MA and he was a gentle, good man - with a fierce intellect but he seemed unaware of just how impressive he was. He judged North End Writers young poets competition in 2008 in spite of the news of his tumour and he read (as best he could) in January alongside Deryn and John Redmond at Liverpool Poetry Cafe in Liverpool.
He changed my life - he gave me a kind of courage and permission to write which I lacked - I will be always thankful and grateful for having known him. Be sad that you didn't meet the man - but go out and read his wonderful books. The world is much duller this morning. May flights of angels sing him to his rest.

david said...

I heard the news an hour ago and have just written a little about Michael at linking to your post, George. Terrible news, no less so for being long expected. He is a great loss.

lucy said...

I was Michael's lecturer and, subsequently, friend to him and his beautiful family. A man of exceptional talent, insight and creativity. Michael could glean pleasure from the inconsequential things in life, as well as the mighty ones. One of the kindness, funniest (in a highly ironic sort of way!)and inspiring people I have known. Many an argument had over a bottle of wine.It was a priviledge to know him and I will miss him very, very much.

May1366 said...

Thanks for this beautiful tribute, George.
I last saw Michael at the launch of a photographic exhibition in which the subjects were thirteen Liverpool poets. I commented on how well he looked: he assured me, with the honesty, wry humour and eloquence I'd come to expect from him, that "well" he most certainly wasn't. The illness casts long shadows. I drive past his road most days and it comes into my mind - we are a year or so apart in age; his and Deryn's children are each a few months older than my two. The poems he has written under the stewardship of this illness are extraordinarily beautiful but so heartbreaking, they hurt the eyes.

Michael was a challenging and inspirational editor, a supportive colleague and fine companion in moments now to be cherished. Of those thirteen Liverpool poets, only Adrian Henri was not still with us - it's devastating to think that our friend Michael has now also gone across.