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Issue 3.3

Fall 2023

Erin Murphy


I’m interested in poems that vary in tone, weaving humor and pathos to reflect the gamut of emotions, similar to what James Baldwin calls the “ironic tenacity” of jazz and blues. Oftentimes this involves ignoring the inner voice that says, “This doesn’t belong in a poem!” 

Insomnia Chronicles II


The night is full of insomniacs Googling insomnia. Babies and puppies sleep better with a ticking clock that mirrors the mother’s heartbeat. In the song “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton recorded the sound of the typewriter with her sculpted fingernails, the very things that would have prevented her from typing. When my daughter learned the word Bluestocking—an intellectual woman—she asked what an intellectual man was called, then answered her own question: Oh, I know: an intellectual. I was today years old when I first heard of the beat poet Elise Nada Cowen. I search for her work and find only fragments: The body hungers before the soul and I am trying to choke you/ Delicate thought. I don’t remember learning about Jeanne Villepreux-Power who studied the argonaut octopus in the 1830s. Aka the paper nautilus. Isn’t there a glass octopus, too? In college when I hurt my back, a doctor asked What does it mean that people in glass houses should not throw stones? I’d never been to an orthopod. I assumed this was a question they always asked, the way dementia patients draw pictures of clocks. The glass octopus is Vitreledonella richardi. You can see through its body to what lies—or floats—beyond. A kind of camouflage, protection from predators. Sometimes we exist by pretending we don’t exist.

Erin Murphy’s work has appeared in Ecotone, Rattle, The Georgia Review, Waxwing, Women’s Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her most recent books are Taxonomies (Word Poetry, 2022) and Human Resources (forthcoming from Salmon Poetry). She is Professor of English at Penn State Altoona and Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review. 

Erin's Book Recommendations

From From by Monica Youn (Graywolf Press, 2023) 

Romantic Comedy by James Allen Hall (Four Way Books, 2023) 

In the Hall of North American Mammals by Lee Peterson (Cider Press Review, 2023) 

Stop Lying by Aaron Smith (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2023) 

Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe [hybrid text] (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2023)

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