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Old 04-18-2001, 08:49 PM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
Lariat Emeritus
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Fargo ND, USA
Posts: 13,807

Dear Alex,

I've never visited a chat room, and from the comments of other staff, I really question whether it is a format which lends itself to the thoughtful reflection which characterizes our Muse. Frankly, I would prefer a one-week stint each month in which the guest poet would answer (or delete) questions focussed on a topic of his or her own choosing. For instance, Gwynn on diction, Espaillat on the sonnet, Steele on lineation and enjambment, Murphy on accentual verse, MacDowell on book publication, Mason on narrative, Mezey on meter, Stallings on classical allusion, Kennedy on the epigraph or children's verse, etc. Oh! and Wiley Clements on elegant archaism. Like you, I'd also encourage questions on the poet's own work, the chief motivation for anyone participating, being to widen his or her readership. With this kind of format, we could also involve two poets who rely on the mails, Wilbur and Hecht.--Tim

Fellow 'Spherians, I sent Alex this email this morning, and found a new board on my screen this evening, with superb questions from Mac and Chris, which I'll answer on their threads. Ask the Lariat will be open for business as the guests' schedules permit, and you'll have one month's advance notice in which to familiarize yourself with the poet's work. That means buy and read his or her books! (the pathetic royalties from which will be all the remuneration received by the guest). The guest will answer questions or delete them if they're dumb or redundant. Some may wish to focus the inquiry on areas of special expertise (see above), but I'm sure all will welcome questions on their own poetic practice. Eratosphere has 700 members, and we don't want the poets to be swamped. So phrase the questions thoughtfully, and avoid follow-up questions unless they're absolutely necessary. I'm going to beg, plead and whimper for Alan to help me through this first trial. I shall be writing a brief introduction for each poet, and since I am the first lamb to the slaughter, here's my own c.v.

Murphy had a three-year tutorial with RP Warren at Yale, from which he was graduated in 1972 as Scholar of the House in Poetry. Richard Wilbur took him under his wing in 1977, and Murphy temporarily ceased publishing while he reinvented himself. He resumed publishing in 1995. Story Line brought out The Deed of Gift in 1998. Ohio University Press published Set The Ploughshare Deep, a memoir in prose and verse, in 2000. A venture capitalist by profession, Murphy farms and hunts in his native North Dakota, where Alan Sullivan has been his partner and editor for 28 years.

For this trial run, I won't limit your inquiries, and now I'm off to talk to Mac and Chris. P.S. I'll be in Minneapolis Thurs and Fri and back in the saddle (noose?) on Saturday, so hold yer fire, podners.

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