Cover image for Conjugations and reiterations
Conjugations and reiterations
Murray, Albert.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Pantheon Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
73 pages ; 20 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3563.U764 C66 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



InConjugations and ReiterationsAlbert Murray, one of the premier literary men of our time, gives us his first collection of poetry. Wide ranging and informed by his singular intelligence and sensibility, these poems are extraordinary for their keen folk wisdom and striking lyricism, partaking of the idioms of blues and jazz. The vicissitudes of American life, the improvisatory nature of American art, the profundities of the Gospel and of gospel music--these are but a few of the concerns in Murray's poetic achievement. Conjugations and Reiterationsstands in ringing confirmation ofThe New Yorker'scelebration of Albert Murray as a writer "possessed of the poet's language, the novelist's sensibility, the essayist's clarity, the jazzman's imagination, and the gospel singer's depth of feeling."

Author Notes

Albert Murray was born in Nokomis, Alabama, in 1916. He was educated at Tuskegee Institute, where he later taught literature & directed the college theater. He is the author of many works of fiction & nonfiction, including "The Seven League Boots", "The Blue Devils of Nada" & "The Spyglass Tree". He lives in New York City.

(Publisher Provided) Albert Murray was born in 1916 and grew up in Magazine Point, Alabama. He received a bachelor's degree from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama in 1939. During World War II, he served in the Air Force and received a master's degree from New York University after returning to the U.S. He was a novelist and critic who believed that blues and jazz were not primitive sounds, but sophisticated art. He wrote a series of autobiographical novels, a nonfiction narrative entitled South to a Very Old Place, an acclaimed history of music entitled Stomping the Blues, and several books of criticism including The Blue Devils of Nada: A Contemporary American Approach to Aesthetic Statement. In 2000, the Modern Library released Trading Twelves, a collection of letters between Murray and fellow author Ralph Ellison. He died on August 18, 2013 at the age of 97.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Murray, as poised, funny, and wise as ever in his eighth decade, is a distinctive and essential voice in American literature, rooted in the rich loam of the blues and blossoming redolently in the radiant oscillations of gospel and jazz. A novelist, social critic, essayist, and shrewd celebrator of literature and music, Murray turns to poetry to distill his deep knowledge and wry pleasure in life into intellectually nimble lyrics. Jeweled with wordplay and light on their feet, his svelte poems offer insouciant commentary on the improvisational art of surviving and pay complex tribute to such paradigm-making individuals as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, "thelonious / the syncopating monk," William Faulkner, and, look out, Sigmund Freud. In "Pas de Deux," he writes slyly of art, including poetry, "the supreme effort / to make words swing," a feat Murray performs with elegance and purpose. For more on Murray's fine writing and keen sensibility, turn to p.528 for a review of his new prose collection, From the Briarpatch File. Donna Seaman

Publisher's Weekly Review

Albert Murray's "Aubades: epic exits and other twelve bar riffs" evokes the "freight train" and "sawmill whistles" of hard labor before the "singer" gets around to romance. In the next piece, the blues are abandoned in favor of a pert, mock-officious speech peppered with civic jargon, delivering dangerously offhand opinions about scarecrows and "municipal cleanup budgets/ for red letter day celebrations/ of legendary heroic actions." In Conjunctions and Reiterations, Murray (The Spyglass Tree), a novelist and nonfiction writer and winner of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandorff Award for lifetime achievement, displays a terrific range of voice, rhythm and interest. Whether in the slow blues refrains or in a later poem that mixes academy-speak with black vernacular, his prosody always seamlessly supports his content, his eye and ear jointly keeping time. (Nov. 21) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Not one but two new works from this African American man of letters is something worth celebrating. The first work offers wide-ranging meditations, while the second collects new verse. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.