Save The Dates

The pub date for Hemming Flames is fast approaching, so I want to let you know about two events.

On Saturday August 20 from 4:30-6 Four Chambers Press will be hosting a “Four Chambers Presents” for Hemming Flames at Ocotillo in Phoenix.

On Thursday September 1 at 7 pm I will be reading with the wonderful Sarah Vap at Changing Hands Tempe.

Hemming Flames

Djerassi, The Memoir

My main goal for my time at Djerassi was simple: get the memoir I’ve been working on to a point where I am ready to send it out. I have been working on it for a long time; so long, in fact, that my life keeps changing and sometimes when I go back to revise it there are sections that no longer make sense in the narrative. With the gift of 28 days, I decided I wanted to: cut the memoir from 95K words to 75K, remove some repetitive narration, and create a new structure.

View from My Studio

To create a new structure, I had to first work on the timeline that I’ve been trying to recreate for about 10 years now. I have been gathering a list of events for each month of every year since my grandparents were born, to try to piece together the timeframe of the implosion (okay, explosion) of my nuclear family. So I spent a good deal of time studying documents to verify these events.


Then I wrote two brand new first chapters.

Then I cut three existing chapters.

Then I worked on patching holes in chapters 3-7.

In short, I got a WHOLE LOT accomplished.

I still have perhaps 40 more working hours to add a bit more glue, including some details I didn’t have access to while I was away (my mother’s CIA and FBI files).


2016 May Swenson Poetry Award

May SwensonLOGAN, UTAH — Patricia Colleen Murphy, of Phoenix, Arizona, is the winner of the 19th annual May Swenson Poetry Award, presented by Utah State University Press and the Literary Estate of May Swenson. Murphy will receive a cash award of $1,000, and her winning collection of poems, Hemming Flames, will be published by USU Press in the summer of 2016.

Judge for the 2016 award was Stephen Dunn, American poet, teacher, and essayist. The Swenson competition receives hundreds of entries each year from across the United States and several countries abroad. Dunn selected Murphy’s work from among 27 finalists chosen by a panel of professional poets and university teachers of poetry. Dunn had this to say about Ms. Murphy’s work:

The curious title of Patricia Murphy’s wonderfully disturbing Hemming Flames doesn’t become clear to us until the last poem in the book. And, as good titles do, it provides a way of understanding what have been the book’s necessities. The last two lines are, “Yesterday I invented fire. / Today I’m hemming flames.” The “today” speaks to almost every poem Murphy artfully offers us, as if the act of writing itself is an attempt to hem what can’t easily be hemmed.

A well-published poet, Patricia Colleen Murphy holds degrees from Miami University and Arizona State University. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University where she is the founding editor of the literary magazine Superstition Review. Her poems have appeared in many journals including The Iowa ReviewQuarterly West and American Poetry Review. Her poems have received awards from Glimmer Train PressThe Southern California ReviewGulf CoastThe Madison Review, and Bellevue Literary Review. She lives in Phoenix, AZ.

Stephen Dunn is Distinguished Professor (emeritus) of creative writing at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and has also taught at Columbia University, NYU, University of Michigan, Princeton, and the University of Washington. He is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, including the most recent Lines of Defense (Norton, 2014), and Here and Now(Norton, 2011). His poem “The Imagined” is included in The Best of the Best American Poetry: 1988-2012 (Scribners, 2013), and he has been the featured poet in The American Poetry ReviewThe Georgia Review, and The Cortland Review.

The May Swenson Poetry Award, an annual competition named for May Swenson, honors her as one of America’s most provocative and vital writers. During her long career, Swenson was loved and praised by writers from virtually every school of American poetry. She left a legacy of fifty years of writing when she died in 1989. She is buried in Logan, Utah, her hometown.

Utah State University Press, a division of USU’s Merrill-Cazier Library and imprint of the University Press of Colorado, is an award-winning scholarly publisher in several academic fields. USU Press proudly sponsors the annual May Swenson Poetry Award.

—Utah State University Press Announcement

Day 2 at #AWP14


It is another sunny morning in Seattle. I have had a proper breakfast and I’m getting ready to head to the book fair. So many of our Superstition Review contributors stopped by to Table C40 yesterday. It was really great to meet everyone in person.

I hope to see even more of our authors today.

My favorite panel Thursday was a Copper Canyon Press reading with 4 wonderful poets: Ellen Bass, Mark Bibbins, Marianne Boruch, and Matthew Zapruder. They were all talented, but they were also all very funny. I love it when poets have a little fun.

I managed to sneak off-site with my friend Suhara for dinner at Bar Sajor. If you can manage to get to this place please do! What a beautiful design, and delicious food.


@AWP2014 Seattle or Bust #AWP14

Trish's Schedule
SR Gear
Get your SR Gear at Table C40

I leave tomorrow for Seattle, where I’ll be working the AWP bookfair Table C40 for my magazine Superstition Review. Please stop by and say hello if you’re there (and grab some SR gear). If I’m not around, say hi to my colleague Mark Haunschild or one of my SR Interns: Erin Regan, Sydni Budelier, Beth Sheets, or Elizabeth Hansen.

We will also be live-reporting on our SR Networks. Follow us for fun updates including #overheardatAWP and also a continuation of our #sralum series, where we highlight AWP authors who have appeared in SR.


Although it seems impossible, AWP 2014 in Seattle will be my 20 Year AWP Anniversary. My first was AWP 1994 in Tempe. I was a graduate student at the time so I volunteered at the conference, which was held entirely at the Tempe Mission Palms (a tiny venue compared to what you see today). I skipped a few in between, but I think Seattle will make my 15th AWP total? Ish. Can’t remember. But I do really enjoy attending the conference and going to panels and seeing friends I have not seen in ages and hearing poets and writers talk about their work and ideas.

I haven’t been to Seattle since 2005–when my friends Pete and Carolyn got married. I’m looking forward to seeing several friends who live in town, and trying some super restaurants. So far on the docket: Anchovies and Olives, How to Cook a Wolf, and The Walrus and The Carpenter.  Might also head to Quinn’s, Bar Sajor, and Matt’s in the Market.

There are plenty of “How-To” guides around for AWP, so I won’t write a comprehensive one here. In fact, you can read these guides for a look at best practices:

Peter Kispert for Indiana Review
Arna Bontemps Hemenway for book country
Zack Rogow
Donna Vorreyer
Liz Ahl
Lori A. May for The Write Life
Kristin Latour for Luna Luna Mag
Erin Regan for Superstition Review
Kelli Russell Agodon
Daniel Nester’s AWP Bingo Card

Here is my list of Top Ten Good AWP Habits:

1. Stay Hydrated
2. If you feel grumpy, have a Nap. Or a Snack. Or Both.
3. Don’t forget to go off-site for something: a museum, a restaurant, a friend.
4. Do not monopolize or be monopolized.
5. Go to some panels. Go to some readings.
6. Spend time and money in the bookfair.
7. Ask 10 people “Do you need anything?”
8. Tell 10 people you are proud of them.
9. Don’t waste any meals (I stole this from Matthew Gavin Frank).
10. Make a new list of Best Practices for #AWP15 in Minneapolis.

Trish's Schedule
Trish’s AWP 2014 Schedule


Day 1 of Trying Not to Suck So Much

I can’t even begin to tell you all the things I’ve sucked at this year. It’s only May 13 and I’ve already failed at: 1. training for a marathon (I dropped to the half), 2. keeping a writing schedule (I only wrote for 15 hours total spring semester), and 3. getting estimates (I need someone to paint my house, please? Don’t make me beg? I’ve left, like, 20 voicemails).

Lucky for me, I know some over-achievers who take pity on me. One is my friend Kaylee, who recently sent me an article about a book that turned out to be the perfect book to start reading on Day 1 of my 30-Day Challenge to Stop Sucking So Much.

Daily Rituals by Mason CurreyIt’s called Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, by Mason Currey, and it describes the creative lives of 161 people including artists, authors, poets, and composers. I’m really enjoying reading it because it displays such a wide variety of routines. You have your morning people and your night owls. You have those who work for 8 hours and those who tap out at 2. You have your drinkers, your smokers, your amphetamine-takers–you even have one writer who was most creative while fondling his genitals.

No matter the routine, (strange or somber), it’s described here in a way that helps me visualize a day in the life of many of the creatives I most admire.

Reading these accounts not only makes me feel better about some of my own strange habits (none of them nude!), it also gives me some ideas about what might help me be more productive. While I don’t think I’ll start using Corydrane, as Jean-Paul Sartre did in spades–nor will I start doing headstands, one of Igor Stravinsky’s methods of getting “un-blocked,”–nor will I start using potent herbal laxatives, as Louis Armstrong advocated, I do have a few lessons to take away: such as a lighter lunch and a scheduled nap time.

Today I’m starting a 5-week Writer’s Retreat and I need to perfect my own rituals so that I can get the most out of the time ahead of me. I want to finish 2 books: a book of poems and a memoir. And to do that I need to get down to business. So I wrote a little entry of my own, mirroring the 161 in the book. Let’s see if my Daily Rituals will help me succeed.

Patricia Murphy (1970-)

Murphy devoted much of her life and energy to being a teacher and editor. During the academic year she struggled to find time to write, which nearly ruined her self esteem and made her feel like a failure as a writer. During the summers she often agreed to teach additional classes, perhaps to self-sabotage her writing efforts.

When she did get a summer to devote to writing, she was very disciplined. She awoke every morning at 5 am and drank coffee while reading and chatting with her life partner John. At 6 am she exercised–either going for a run in South Mountain park, or attending fitness classes at The Hub, where she enjoyed the social benefits of working out with a peer group. Back home, she drank a fruit smoothie with spinach, berries, banana, pineapple, and mango. Then she did a 15 minute stretching routine and took a shower and dressed.

Finally at the computer by 8 am, she read her journal from the previous day’s work, and started composing the current day’s journal entry. Murphy was a life-long journaler, and reflecting on her process and product helped her to perfect her routines and spend energy wisely. After journaling, she would read for 20 minutes to an hour, then start the composing for the day. Perhaps as a carry-over from her hobby as a runner, she used tools such as timers and spreadsheets to help her keep track of pace and tasks. She always composed using two computers–one open to her writing in Scrivener, and one open to a spreadsheet with lists of themes, characters, titles, wordcounts, etc. She might have missed her calling as an accountant.

While at her desk, with a clear view of her beloved South Mountain, she guzzled water and had to get up often to pee. By 11 am she was ready for a snack, which usually consisted of a big kale salad with chick peas, avocado, pomegranate seeds, blueberries, and sesame seeds. She liked to keep her meals under 400 calories, otherwise she would fall straight to sleep.

Back to the computer by noon, she completed another 3 hour writing session–moving between her journal, her spreadsheet, her poetry, and her memoir. Whenever she needed inspiration, she would grab a book and read for 20 minutes or so. At 3 pm she ate another snack of lots of fruit and vegetables and toast, and then she tended to give in to a nap with her beautiful Vizslas who were always herding her to the bed with their sleepy eyes and droopy ears. She could fall asleep like a champ once her head hit the pillow. She slept like the dead for 20-30 minutes and woke up feeling ready to go.

After the nap she answered email or managed household necessities until John returned from work at around 5:30 pm. Once John arrived they spent the evening together: chatting, reading, walking the dogs, watching a TV show, running errands, playing Scrabble, cooking, eating dinner, drinking a beer, or taking a dip in the pool. Between 8 and 8:30 they headed to bed to read, usually falling fast asleep by 9 pm.

Now let’s see if that helps. What are your successful daily rituals?