Erin Murphy

Reviews

"Murphy re-opens history and biography with strength and subtlety. Brimming voices rise from these pages with vitality, breathtaking clarity, and sometimes rightful rage. These remarkable lives are exquisitely researched and richly re-imagined. A remarkable achievement!"
-- Julianna Baggott

"Erin Murphy writes poems of serious play, and her stunning new collection, Distant Glitter, is filled with the joyful music of meditation and invention. Murphy’s is a poetry that refuses to stand still, that embraces tradition even as it finds a way to twist old forms into delightfully new shapes. Her ingenuity is grounded in trust—she believes language can lead us to insight. Time and again she brings us face to face with ordinary devastation, the daily tragedies and losses that accumulate in every life. And without fail she rescues her readers from the recognition of emptiness, from Stevens’ 'the nothing that is,' by offering up the thrilling and redemptive rewards of the imagination. What a pleasure this poetry is."
-- James Harms

"Murphy's task in Distant Glitter [is] to bring us, by having us listen to her luminous poems, to that moment of ‘nothing’ which is, paradoxically, at the heart of everything. Many of the poems call attention to their language, because, for the poet, language is what gives us that ‘everything.’ In fact, Murphy scatters love letters to words throughout the book ... These poems, however, move quickly beyond ironic linguistic play, toward intellectually and emotionally precise engagement with their subjects…Literally, figuratively, and linguistically, ‘heartbreak’ contains ‘heart’ as do all of Murphy's elegant, sparkling poems.”
-- Reed Wilson
Full review: http://www.summersetreview.org/14winter/reviews3.htm

"Erin Murphy is a sly, funny, clear-eyed poet whose poems close with the satisfying ringing sound of deft ironies sliding into place. She has the courage of her idiosyncracies, a pitch-perfect ear, and the confidence to probe the more tender hypocrisies of our culture. It's just like her to tell us something we didn't know we knew. Well, now we know. This is a marvelous book."
-- Lee Upton

"A sassy domesticity informs these poems--let's call them Emily Post-modern--and a savvy intellect sifts each line so that the language becomes, in Emerson's phrase, 'doubly significant.' Underscored with humor and ravening self-consciousness, the poems' true subject is not only the burden of desire, how 'wanting always // leaves you, always / leaves you wanting,' but its brilliant and spiritually rousing counterpart: 'If only someone / would lift us up, polish us, see us. See us shine.' Erin Murphy has crafted here a volume both dazzling and transcendent in its deceptively homespun articulations."
-- Michael Waters

"Culturally savvy, mordantly ironic, bemused and poignant, the poems of Erin Murphy's Dislocation and Other Theories deliver their insights with 'back-story, anecdote, and verisimilitude' as clearly and concisely crafted as radio dispatches for a planet slightly off its axis. 'What else have you misread?' she asks herself when the nature worshipper on the tow bridge turns out to be merely littering. When the war hero rescuing his bride from a high-rise hotel fire loses his grip, Murphy interrogates the nuances of the Latinate prefix for the space between selves that makes communication possible...and also buries it altogether. Deflected expectations, sudden shifts in identity, and unbidden intimations both of mortality and of capacity for transformation keep the inhabitants of these poems perpetually in motion. In a world full of dislocations, Murphy implies, we are all mangoes out of season, but we recognize ourselves in the hope of 'dormant brilliance' awakening in these poems."
-- Carolyne Wright

“It’s the mixture of verbal sensuousness and quick intelligence that appeals most strongly to me in these vivid poems by Erin Murphy. There’s something intrepid, honest, insistent in her ability to negotiate at speed between facts and feelings. Anchored often in family, her imagination can float out on currents of edgy, idiosyncratic, individual revelation. Alert to the language itself, she is always physically mindful of its meanings, its play of possibilities. Behind the wry humor, there is a decent, sympathetic love for the ordinary stuff of the world, for how ‘apples [are] polished like memories.’ She is like that man ‘working/ his garden like the day itself depends/ on this season’s tulips: blood-red, short-lived.’ A striking first book, Science of Desire is in its own way a book of knowledge.”
-- Eamon Grennan

“As she slips into and out of other lives as well as her own, Erin Murphy combines the cool precision of a scientist and an historian’s eye for pattern and detail with the passionate involvement of a wife, a daughter, a mother, and a lover. She also possesses an artist’s ability to draw back from the experience of the moment, having ‘learn[ed] to see/what needs to be seen.’ Reading these poems is like plunging into a cold stream: They leave you awake, alive, and shivering with recognition.”
-- Sue Ellen Thompson

"A valuable addition to one's personal library for all writers and readers of poetry, [Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets] finds its rightful position among the tradition of entertaining and enlightening books in which authors discuss poetic craft or the creative process with a cogent blend of practical wisdom and refreshing clarity."
-- Edward Byrne

“The title of [Word Problems] thrums with the irony that poetry’s famous for, because there’s not a whole lot of math in these smart, punchy poems. Instead, I found myself gobbling these babies like jelly beans: some are rueful (‘Free Refills’), others wise (‘Orpheus Poem’), yet every one is yummy.”
-- David Kirby

“Murphy’s characteristically plain-spoken diction and her understated, at times dead-pan tone tackle themes like love, marriage, disease, and aging and philosophical questions like cruelty and suffering. Unsentimental and unflinching, Word Problems does not offer solutions but puts us in the presence of a poet fully engaging with her world.”
--Shara McCallum

“Readers of [Word Problems] will be treated to a delightful new form of ‘demi-sonnets’ replete with wisdom and experience. These small poems pack a powerful punch: they startle and surprise, often with an amusingly deadpan approach in describing such peculiars as three-martini evenings, vultures, and even graffitied sheep with playful acuity, and by doing so, neatly assure us that we are not alone in this world.”
-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil