Reading: Patricia Murphy

Patricia Colleen Murphy founded the excellent journal Superstition Review in 2008. It’s always got strong writing and beautiful cover art, plus it sends out a really useful newsletter I recommend you subscribe to. Her book Hemming Flames was the winner of the 19th May Swenson Poetry Award.

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Murphy-Hemming FlamesHemming Flames (Utah State University Press, 2016)

Feelings while reading: Like being set up on a successful blind date by a good friend. Look, I’ve got this book I think you should meet. It’s about your age and it’s got everything you like: strong use of voice, anger, some killer lines, suicide attempts and asylums, a mother and a father, more anger. Don’t look so skeptical: Stephen Dunn wrote the foreword and referenced Plath; the poems themselves mention Sexton, Crane, Magritte, and fucking James Tate, for god’s sake. It’s perfect for you. Trust me.

Favorite titles: Losing Our Milk Teeth, How the Body Moves, Is It the Sea You See in Me?, The Birth of No, From the Book of Attacks, What Flickers, The Linger Museum

Favorite poems: Bridges All Over the Room, Cutlass Ciera, The Princess of Creeping, Murmur, Rank Bitch, With a Whimper

Favorite images: “corpse-napping” (Cutlass Ciera); “all those winters spent in the throw-things house.” (Throwing the Proper Tantrums); “I have spent so long apprenticed / to the drunk and insane / that I know terror dressing / up in anger’s coat.” (XVIIIe Arrondissement); “Why couldn’t we ever coordinate our agony?” (The Year of Our Comorbidity); “Maybe I’m Miss / Remembering.” (This Is Not a Pipe)

Favorite lines: A few. “Cat, you are a failure as a cat.” (What Flickers); “What if, for today, I touch everyone I see? / I’m not afraid to hit someone if they need it.” (The Birth of No); “I know I might become the book. /  I know I might become the bed.” (Is It the Sea You See in Me?); “Yesterday I invented fire. / Today I’m hemming flames.” (With a Whimper)

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Final Thought: It’s early days, and I still hate the verb fingering, but you know what? I think I am in love with this book.

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