STEPHEN MURRAY started writing poetry at eight years of age. “A teacher, Mr Spark, told us to write a poem based on A Christmas Carol by Dickens. I wrote Marley’s Ghost. Mr Spark said it was brilliant. After that he encouraged me.”
It’s been difficult for Stephen to survive as a poet. So this summer he’s cycling 8,000 miles around the US, reading from his first collection. “I have readings all over the place; including in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. By reading I’m hoping to persuade the Americans to buy my books. I’m attempting the impossible in a land where nothing is impossible,” he says.
Who is Stephen Murray?
Date/Place of Birth: 1st June 1974 in Dublin
Education: In London, then Kingston College. “But I dropped out after two years.”
Home: Kinvara, Co Galway.
Family: Sister Jenny, mother, a mostly absent father, and, for most of his childhood an Egyptian stepfather called Aladdin.
The Day Job: Heavily into the Irish Poetry scene, Stephen has read at Cúirt. He’s also read in Chicago’s Green Mill; in The Bowery in New York, and the Prague Fringe Festival.
“And I run a company, running poetry slams and creative writing classes for Transition year students,” he says. “I also run the Youth Speaks All Ireland Poetry Slam.”
Hobbies: Cycling. “I cycled in Africa last year.” Movies, reading and writing.
Favourite Writers: Dylan Thomas, American poet Charles Bukowski, and Norwegian author, Knut Hamsun.
Second Collection: “I will call it Consider Shylock. Through poetry I want to examine three religions; Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. I find inspiration in the beauty and the horror religion spawns.”
Top Writing Tip: Be honest.
Web: www.houseofbees.net Twitter: @stephenthepoet
House of Bees by Stephen Murray. Published by Salmon Poetry at €9.60.
“The House of Bees is an abstract portrait of my life,” says Stephen. It includes poems based on his troubled childhood; his time in the Erin Pizzey shelter in London, and in a children’s home.
The Verdict: An astonishingly powerful debut.