Erin Murphy

Erin Murphy (CNF, Poetry) | Altoona, PA

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Erin Murphy is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Ancilla (Lamar University Press, 2014), and is co-editor of two anthologies from SUNY Press: Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets and Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers. Her works have been published in numerous journals and anthologies and featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac. She is Professor of English at Penn State Altoona.

Books (Poetry)

Ancilla (Lamar University Press, 2014). Poetry.
Distant Glitter (WordTech, 2013). Poetry.
Word Problems (WordTech, 2011). Poetry.

Dislocation and Other Theories (WordTech, 2008). Poetry.
Too Much of This World (Mammoth Books, 2008). Poetry.
Science of Desire (WordTech, 2004). Poetry.

Books (Edited)

Creating Nonfiction: Twenty Essays and Interviews with the Writers [co-edited with Jen Hirt]. (SUNY Press, 2016). Essays. CNF.
Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets [co-edited with Todd Davis] (SUNY Press, 2010). Poetry/Essays.

Blurbs, Press & 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)

“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

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