The gleaming clouds by Murray Alfredson
Murray Alfredson is an Australian writer and poet who lives on the Fleurieu Peninsula by Gulf St Vincent in South Australia. He is a former librarian, lecturer in librarianship and Buddhist Associate in the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy at Flinders University. He has previously published essays on Buddhist meditation and on inter-faith relations in Theravada, The middle way, In the round, and Eremos. He has also published poetry translations and essays on poetics. Last year he published his second poetry collection: The gleaming clouds.
In this collection, Murray Alfredson displays many moods, many styles of writing and covers many themes. He glories in and laments the ephemeral as the only lasting quality. This view also harmonises with his Buddhist outlook on life.
I was excited and amazed by the wide variety of styles of poetry: each at a thought provoking level. The anthology displays a sound knowledge and understanding of the important ideologies and beliefs of the world. Alfredson has a religious sensibility that draws on many traditions and myths.
I was particularly interested by Isaac’s boyhood. It addresses issues that had concerned me and I was delighted to learn of someone else voicing the thoughts so eloquently. The moods of the poems range widely, from the tortures of mental illness through deep serenity to fun, love and satire.
Another poem that fascinated me was Bi- meets uni-polar. My cousin is bi-polar and I have lived with clinical depression for years. This poem aptly reflects many of our conversations! Alfredson works with sharp thoughts, sharp images and eloquence.
I have already read and enjoyed The Sandwich several times. On each occasion discovering new images, aspirations and impressions. So few lines weave so detailed a pattern. Alfredson writes but also translates poetry in varied forms from ancient to disciplined free verse and has a way of surprising his readers.
One of the translations he includes is Presence, one of my favourite Goethe poems. I enjoyed the translation, and the excuse to re-read the original.
When this anthology first came to my attention, I had no idea what to expect from it. Whatever it was the works far exceeded my expectations and I highly recommend this collection of poems to poetry lovers everywhere.