I got to read an affecting collection of poems by Patricia Murphy called Bully Love. I don’t read poetry regularly, so I had a bit of trepidation. Would access be offered? Would I hate every minute of it? I’m a highly fucking literate guy, but still. Poetry is even more personal than theater. The opportunities for being put off are abundant. But I wasn’t put off, I was pulled to.
It’s a particular pleasure to read my home, greater Phoenix, rendered in her verses, supporting my long-held theory that this is in fact a place, rather than just a lesser facsimile of Southern California or the locale that came after Chicago. The easier aspect of this is the adventure of seeing the Sonoran Desert she shares with us in moving detail. The more challenging part is where we live — car, city, suburb – something like the poetics of air-conditioning.
Like most of us, she’s from somewhere else, Ohio, but been here long enough to reckon with this place in its own right, as well as how it contrasts to where she came from, which is often voiced by her father, who like my father, seems overly aware of our weather. I think he can’t quite grasp the place, and her in it. Her Arizona is a disruptor, which I well understand, a place that is not just different where I came from, but apart from it.
I also like the fact that her poems have a sense, no matter how subtle, of ending. I think poetry is dangly enough in its line breaks and open-ended metaphors sprouting metaphors without leaving us dangling at the end, and Murphy doesn’t. In fact, her endings tend to rush at you, and if anything, arrive sooner than you’d like. Which is saying something.
You can order the collection here: