Reviews

Shoreline of the Heart, Having Lived and Crafting Wings

Shoreline of the Heart

Shanti Arts, 2019

Shanti Arts, 2019

This stunning new collection, by poet Joseph Murphy, offers not only a place to dwell for the philosophical seeker, but it points the reader towards a deeply nourishing journey of the soul.  

In Shoreline of the Heart, we are invited to enter a realm of deep connection to the earthly experience, as well as an understanding of higher .  Through beautiful and engaging imagery, Murphy honors the energy and presence of the natural world, as in the lines, “Beneath the mountain’s heart-shaped scree, / a sea swells through veins / of grass and weed.”  

Murphy reminds us to be both humbled by our place here and amazed by the sheer wonder of existence, when he writes, “We are the garden, the gardener and neither.” Through these tenderly connected poems, Murphy shows us the shape and color of awakening: “I’m nestling against the sky’s narrow wing, / without longing or hope: / Awake.”  

This book welcomes the reader with guidance and poetic support.  Whatever you are seeking, you will find it here—you will come home to yourself.  Most importantly, Murphy encourages us with the thought, “Perhaps, beyond these hills / another way exists.” 

—Cristina M. R. Norcross, Editor of Blue Heron Review; author of Beauty in the Broken PlacesAmnesia and Awakenings, and others

 

Having Lived

Kelsay Books, 2018

Kelsay Books, 2018

Joseph Murphy’s Having Lived does what all humans strive to do: assemble a life’s collected experiences and present them as evidence of a life well-lived. Here in verse is an era of DeSoto automobiles and American Bandstand, Vietnam and a trip retracing Hemingway’s steps. Murphy manages to tell his stories in short sparse language accessible to the reader."

— Matt McGee, editor, Falling Star Magazine

Joseph Murphy’s Having Lived leads us quietly through a land of his memories, giving us glimpses of family, friends, streets, towns, ships, and events large and small that have shaped his life. The journey starts early in his life, when "Success seemed inevitable . . . every street Easy Street,” closing the collection with a poem noting that had he spent years unable to write, “but whatever was broken/has healed.” We meet five generations of his family. We hear their stories, how they lived, how they loved, how they suffered. In "Your Footprints" he retraces the life of a family patriarch, an uncle to whom he says, "I'm the age you were then: . . . no less burdened; no better off . . . It’s no surprise/to find your footprints/at my feet." No fireworks, no explosions, just quiet, well-written, accessible poetry. A fine odyssey. 

— Art Elser, Ph.D., is an award-winning author of four poetry collections, most recently To See a World in a Grain of Sand.

Joseph Murphy's poetry is ripe with images, nested firmly in both time and place, a real pleasure to read, as in this passage from “Whitcomb Summit”  that highlights his uncle’s service during WWII: 

He wrote home from Kansas,
Panama, Guatemala.

No torpedo would thwart him:
he slept on deck
all the way to India; on Tinian, 
stopped his Jeep short
to glimpse the Enola Gay.  

Murphy's poems have a natural cadence, an undulation of sounds in pentameter, gorgeous, beautiful, natural...each visit is like returning home.

— Glenn Lyvers, editor, Poetry Quarterly

Joseph Murphy’s Having Lived is a fine book by a gifted poet with a strong, authentic voice, one that is able to touch the reader’s soul. The poetry in this collection ranges from moving elegies and lyric poems of homecoming and longing, like “For Emily,” to personal histories retold as narratives with deft ironies such as “Greensky Hill” and “The Story Teller.” Common to all these works is a collective poignancy that captures many of the shared sentiments from our times, both the comic and the sad. As the book progresses, the reader has a sense of the poet having traveled great distances, emotionally and spiritually, with the haunting power and energy of his imagery from such poems as “Shooting Star” and “The Robin” lingering on long after the reading. Murphy’s subtle grasp of our contemporary lives, as revealed through his accessible poetry, will have a wide audience appeal. I highly recommend Having Lived.

— Dan Guenther has published two poetry collections. His award-winning fourth novel, Glossy Black Cockatoos, is set in Australia and Laos, following the fall of Saigon.

 

Crafting Wings

Scars Publications, 2017

Scars Publications, 2017

“A wonderful read, engaging, heartfelt and beautifully written.”
—Debbie Berk, founder/editor, The Stray Branch

Crafting Wings is Joseph Murphy’s first collection of poetry. Murphy is senior poetry editor for an online literary publication, a member of the Poetry Society of Colorado and the Colorado Authors' League, so I had high expectations. I was not disappointed. I am more of used to reading novels than poems, so I was a little worried these would go over my head. I was relived to find the poems easy to read. Instead of a flowery collection of poems I found an approachable collection, beautiful in it's simplicity.

Crafting Wings contains 27 poems on a wonderful array of topics. There is a poem for nearly every mood, and I found myself dipping into the collection again and again for inspiration, comfort, and relaxation. Murphy is clearly a very skillful poet and I can’t imagine anyone being disappointed with this collection.

Whether poetry aficionado or novice, Crafting Wings is a must-read. I imagine I will be dipping into this collection many more times over the coming years.

— Books & the Bear

Crafting Wings is an intimate portrait of a re-emergence from a period of stasis into the beauty of discovering something that had seemed lost. With artful imagery, the skillful and the exploration of self, the author gives voice to the angst of self-examination and the delight of rediscovering the wonder of life. 

— Vaughn Neeld, Writer-Editor