The Desert Nights, Rising Stars
Writers Conference

Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2019 Patricia Colleen Murphy

Patricia Colleen Murphy

Desert Nights, Rising Stars Faculty 2019, 2021

About Patricia Colleen Murphy

Patricia Colleen Murphy founded Superstition Review at Arizona State University, where she teaches creative writing and magazine production. Her book Bully Love won the 2019 Press 53 Poetry Award. Her book Hemming Flames (Utah State University Press) won the 2016 May Swenson Poetry Award judged by Stephen Dunn, and the 2017 Milt Kessler Poetry Award. A chapter from her memoir in progress was published as a chapbook by New Orleans Review. Her writing has appeared in many literary journals, including The Iowa Review, Quarterly West, American Poetry Review, and has received awards from Gulf Coast, Bellevue Literary Review, among others. She lives in Phoenix, AZ.

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More About Patricia Colleen Murphy

Lang, Heather. "Interview with Patricia Colleen Murphy." Diode, vol. 11, no. 2. You can read Patricia's poems "Scrotum and Bone" and "Bulb" in Hobart.

When I first picked up Hemming Flames, I started with “Scrotum and Bone,” which begins: “You learned to masturbate while I learned / to menstruate. How thin the wall separating / all our adolescent groaning.” Throughout this poem, there are thought-provoking parallels between the “I,” who seems to be a sister, and the “you,” who seems to be her brother. The “obscene arsenal of hygienics” in the bathroom is juxtaposed against the “hard-core porn” in a hallway shelf. Exploring gender in this context, I can’t help but recall Shakespeare’s hypothetical sister, Judith, as detailed by Virginia Woolf in “A Room of One’s Own,” and the ways in which, despite being equally as gifted, Judith would have been denied an education and a place in the theatre simply for being female. When writing “Scrotum and Bone,” or any of the other poems in Hemming Flames, did you have Judith in mind? If not, what was the catalyst for this particular poem?

Murphy, Patricia Colleen. "Cibophobia.The Dialogist, vol. 4, no. 1. 

“Just what the world needs, another world.” Franz Wright

Four of us in Fair Isle sweaters,

faces pointed at 45 degree angles

away from each other, room strewn

with wrapping paper shrapnel.

---. "Safeway.Midway Journal, January 15, 2015.

It doesn’t take an aeronautical engineer
to feel pure joy when Jack the Polish pilot
lifts the nose of the Cessna 208 Caravan
off the Serengeti grass. Then, passing
the peak of Kilimanjaro in the air. 

---. "The Birth of No." Cleaver Magazine.

I remember everything but in an order I cannot control.
It was suicide season. I was 14 and I couldn’t believe

my mother’s thrift, like she had missed a few zeros.
It was in a room where everyone was known for something.

Pape, Sarah. "Hemming Flames by Patricia Colleen Murphy.The Rumpus, November 16, 2016.

How do we go on when those tasked to care for and protect us refuse to live? Through great suffering—a mother’s suicide attempts, a sibling’s sexual compulsions, and a father’s alcoholism—Patricia Colleen Murphy’s first collection, Hemming Flames, builds a world in which we can begin to understand this impossible undertaking. Winner of the 2016 May Swenson Poetry Award, Murphy’s poems echo a “Plathian relentlessness,” as the contest judge Stephen Dunn ascribes, yet travel far beyond Plath’s confessional confines through the use of innovative structural techniques that underscore the emotional terrain of these poems.