Pleased to announce that "The Left Behind," winner of the poetry Prize at Press Americana, went to the printers today.
“[The Homo sapiens] has an awareness of his own splendid uniqueness in that he sticks out of nature with a towering majesty, and yet he goes back into the ground a few feet in order to blindly and dumbly rot and disappear forever.” – Ernest Becker
“Once such superhumans appear, there will be significant political problems with unimproved humans, who won’t be able to compete.” ... “Presumably, they will die out, or become unimportant. Instead, there will be a race of self-designing beings who are improving at an ever-increasing rate.” – Stephen Hawking
Erich Fromm's Escape from Freedom and Art by Rich Murphy
Viewing see below
At the close of voting on February 15th, another title garnered the most votes and will be recognized as the prize winner. Nevertheless, we recognized Prophetic Voice Now as a finalist thanks to the rigorous analysis and purpose-driven research you evidenced throughout.
Review of Practitioner Joy in Red Wheelbarrow Review: https://theredwheelbarrowreview.com/practitioner-joy-1-2/
Practitioner Joy 1.2SEPTEMBER 9, 2020Life, Biology, and Coherence
It’s been a while since the last post. The COVID pandemic combined with political unrest is a recipe for cognitive fog. Hopefully, I’ll pull myself together soon. Wish my luck!
Rich Murphy’s poems, for me, clear away the fog of dissonance that feeds on the fears about biological and epistemological threats currently teeming throughout the country and the world.
In this installment, I’d like to make some general observations that sprung forth as I read the poems “Microbe Morning With Caffeine” and “Rationing Rationale.” The feelings that are stirred up when reading poetry are intuitive rather than emotional. This is where the real treasure of poetry is hidden. When done well, it transcends the logic inherent in prose and should be savored.
Both poems evoke a swirl of science juxtaposed to living, economics to value, and transcendence to technology. They congeal into the human being now present in the world who is working hard to maintain the coherence inherent in homeostasis. Each of us then, is implicated in the poems, especially in the increasingly shallow consciousness of the West. Like it or not, we are microcosms reflecting the macrocosm of our culture.
As we try to make sense of the world around us—some through scientific scrutiny, others through the logic of technology, many of us, through a kind of somnambulist’s dance through materialism—these poems, fenced into by realm of immanence, long, just under the surface, for transcendence.
At least that’s what they do for me. We all bring our own baggage to a poem. On the other hand, I think that much of what we carry is the similar. Tim O’Brien’s short story collection, The Things They Carried is an apt comparison. Though the contents of the each soldier’s pack is similar—dog tags, mosquito repellant, ammunition, etc—they carry personal mementos that grant individuality. There is, then, contrary to the claims of Sartre and, more recently, critical Theories of intersectionality and race, a common human nature. The poems in Practitioner Joy, for me, underscore our common humanity and complement our individuality at the same time.
Why does it feel like we are always at war?
I am abundantly honored and very pleased to announce that my collection of poems “The Left Behind” has been chosen by Press Americana Poetry Award as winner for 2020.
BREAKING NEWS/UPDATES POETRY
Practitioner Joy: Canned Goods
AUGUST 12, 2020
With all that’s going on these days—pandemics, protests, riots, elections—it serves to reason that taking a pause to get one’s bearing is a wise move. The question then becomes, how and where to pause? Should one sit in silence and meditate, attend church to pray, or maybe take a walk? These are all viable options. Another choice is to sit and read, and read slowly, contemporary poetry that brings one out of the cognitive dissonance that is the zeitgeist called 2020. If you’re not feeling a bit anxious you are either blessed or numb. Use poetry as medicine.
Rich Murphy’s poem “Canned Goods,” is an excellent jumping-off point to reclaim your spirit from the whirlwind called 2020.
Eating self-esteem from a can,
the need to fill a hole gnaws
when multimedia pave over
farms and gardens with confetti
to starve couch potatoes
and anybody sprouting a spirit.
The first stanza is ripe with meaning. Television, social media, and smartphones feed us canned messages that are psychologically designed to trap each individual in the prison of egotistical desire. The hole that gnaws yearns for the freedom that has been sacrificed upon entering the prison of self-identity. By paving over farms and gardens with confetti to starve those stuck to electronic screens of technology, multimedia starves the spirit that transcends technology. Technology craves life. Captivating the individual in a psychological web of personal desire is an attempt to deprive the spirit of the life that sustains it. Spirit lives. Technology craves.
That’s one way to read the opening stanza. There are, of course, others. The point is that in reading the poetry of Rich Murphy the reader realizes they are not imprisoned in the prison of a technological society that would reduce the individual to a statistic rather than allowing them to dance, with creation itself, in the gardens and farms that constitute the human relationship to nature.
The final stanza is a call to action:
At the nipple for planetary homelessness,
the recent refugee, also on the border
to second nature, looks back ashamed,
embarrassed to have been a member.
The prisoner is now refugee who has been fighting like a junkie for its place at the nipple of technology. Exhausted and momentarily aware of the addiction that binds them, the refugee pauses and looks back in shame. Contrary to popular belief, shame is not shameful. It can be a catalyst for healing, for reclaiming the spirit that is natural to human life. Shame can show one back to the farms and gardens where we individuals are not alone but, instead, surrounded by the spirit of living.
Again, that is one way to read “Canned Goods.” Poetry, by nature, is open to interpretation. I would suggest, however, that all readers will come away with a similar sense of spirit the poem points to, like the moon pointing to the sun at the midnight of the soul. The human spirit is in danger of being covered-up, starved, and suffocated if the individual fails to nourish as the healthy citizen nourishes its community.
This is just one poem in the Rich Murphy’s collection Practitioner Joy. I urge you do get a copy and read, slowly, time and again.