Australia's leading poet Les Murray is one of the globe's finest, and he knows it. So much so, a request to blurb a collection of poems by the poet J.K. Murphy becomes an opportunity for him to flaunt his clout. Apparently, Les Murray's wife is an aspiring author, a social historian to be precise. Like a good husband, Murray thought he'd lend a hand to his wife's publishing career. Nothing shameful about that, I guess.
However, as the above letter indicates to the editors at Puncher & Wattmann, a fairly new independent press in Australia, Murray thought he'd pursue a little back-scratching. Clearly, this is nothing new in the history of human relations.
You blurb my book; I will publish your wife's migrant chronicle. Good for him.
A few days later, after the story broke in Australian newspapers, Mr. Murray called the whole thing a joke and meant to deflect future requests for "endorsements," as he is tired of being "pestered unmercifully" for hyperbolic remarks of praise for mediocre manuscripts.
Major Jackson's books of poems are Holding Company (2010, Norton) and Hoops (2006, Norton), both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry, and Leaving Saturn (2002, University of Georgia Press), which was awarded the Cave Canem Poetry Prize for a first book of poems and was a finalist for the National Book...