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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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
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.