LOGAN, 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 Review, Quarterly West and American Poetry Review. Her poems have received awards from Glimmer Train Press, The Southern California Review, Gulf Coast, The 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 Review, The 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