Joan Murray - West Fargo Public Schools

By Bre Keller
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
“Sometimes [poetry] holds your hand to the fire—but, even so, it holds your hand.”
-Joan Murray (“Joan Murray”
List of Works
Sample Poems
This quote by Joan Murray shows exactly how she presents herself to the world. Her
poetry is very blunt, but also stirs up many emotions. Murray is a born and raised New
Yorker. She was brought into this world to accomplish great things in 1945. She still resides
in New York. She is working on many works, so she is currently living in the New York State
Writer’s Institute. She does not have a husband or any children, but is very content with
expressing herself into poetry as an outlet (“Joan Murray”
Murray has always been a writer. In her younger school years, she was involved in many
writing clubs and contents. She always knew she was going to be a published poet. Murray
Inspired Poems completed all mandatory schooling and did not want to stop there. She wanted to go onto
bigger and better things. Murray attended both Hunter and New York University majoring in
English. As Murray began doing more writings of her own, she began to be more and more
influenced by other poets. Her main influence was Emma Hopkins which she has had the
honor to work with before. She says she does not have any other specific favorites, but that
Original Poems she likes to pull different things from different writers (“Joan Murray”
Murray’s works have earned her many different awards. Some of them include The Gordon
Barber Award, The National Poetry Series Award, and has also had the honor of having a
fellowship for the National Endowment for The Acts. Many of her works being awarded have
been published in many well-known journals. Some of them are The Atlantic Monthly, The
Bibliography New York Times, and The Nation (“Joan Murray”
Murray has a profound amount of influence on
other young poets and writers. She is a head editor for
both The Pushcart Book of Poetry and Poetry to Live By.
She also does frequent speeches and poetry readings to
public. Many people are so inspired by her writings
List of Works the
because of her distinctive style. Her style is very edgy. It
digs into an emotional place where a lot of people are
uncomfortable experiencing. She taps into a lot of
emotions to make her writings very relatable. One main
Sample Poems theme in Murray’s poetry is her own personal
experiences. She writes about what she knows which is
what makes her poetry seem so personable (“Her Head” Murray always intended to make a
difference but she had no idea how large the impact
Inspired Poems would be. She is thankful for what she can do and what
she has achieved.
Original Poems
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
“Her Head”
“She’s Coming!”
“Coming of Age in Harlem”
“What Was Expected”
“Play by Play”
“We Old Dudes”
“The Same Water”
Poems to Live By
List of Works
Sample Poems
We thought that they were gone-we rarely saw them on our screens-those everyday Americans
with workaday routines,
and the heroes standing ready-not glamorous enough-on days without a tragedy,
we clicked--and turned them off.
We only saw the cynics-the dropouts, show-offs, snobs-the right- and left- wing critics:
we saw that they were us.
Inspired Poems
But with the wounds of Tuesday
when the smoke began to clear,
we rubbed away our stony gaze-and watched them reappear:
Original Poems
the waitress in the tower,
the broker reading mail,
a pair of window washers,
filling up a final pail,
the husband's last "I love you"
from the last seat of a plane,
the tourist taking in a view
no one would see again,
the fireman, his eyes ablaze
as he climbed the swaying stairs-he knew someone might still be
We wondered who it was.
We glimpsed them through the
the ones who lost their lives,
the heroes' doubleburials,
the ones now "left behind,"
the ones who rolled a sleeve up,
the ones in scrubs and masks,
the ones who lifted buckets
filled with stone and grief and
some spoke adifferent language-still no one missed a phrase;
the soot had softened every face
of every shade and age--
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
"the greatest generation" ?-we wondered where they'd gone-they hadn't left directions
how to find our nation-home:
for thirty years we saw few signs,
but now in swirls of dust,
they were alive--they had survived-we saw that they were us.
Joan Murray
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
In the poem “Survivors—Found” by Joan Murray, a rhyming tactic is
used as a great advantage to help explain the idea of Murray’s poem. This
piece is about the terrorists attacks on our twin towers on 9/11. It does a
phenomenal job of describing the events and the feelings of all people
affected by this travesty. “The husband’s last I love you/ from the last seat of
the plane/ the tourists taking in a view/ no one would see again.” Normally, a
rhyming tactic seems a bit cliché but for me the line breaks and the rhyming
ties the different ideas together. “But now in swirls of dust/ they were alivethey had survived/ we saw that they were us.” Murray uses key words to tap
into emotions which coincide with her signature style. Her poetry styles are
easy to read which explains why she chooses to write this way. I chose this
poem because it was very relatable. It has deep meanings without being overly
confusing. As an elegy, or mournful poem, it is indeed very sad but makes us
look at things in a different perspective. She made the poem from all
perspectives. She had the views of family members, co-workers, outsiders,
even the ones who had to clean up the after mess of the problem. This is the
main reason I chose her poem. It can relate to everybody and anybody. She
made a poem about one of the worst things in our history and turned it into
more of a learning experience for all people.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
Joan Murray’s What Was Expected ventures through a side of
human emotion most people don’t dare to feel. It starts with a
relationship between a human and a stray cat. “And we had to pool
our efforts and do what was expected: I had to pull the door openeven though the threat it made was less than a child’s bluff- and
once it had been done, he had to back away from the bowl. These
lines go to explain humans feel the obligation to help the less
fortunate. This is what is expected of them. There seems to be a set
relationship between the lesser and the upper class people.
Afterwards, it ties this relationship between humans. “And slowly
turning midstream to call after us- Have you got a nickel or dime? the ugly ones, the ones who had no songs, the ones with nothing to
give us.” Even people with nothing to offer expect some sort of
compensation from people. People are expected to give, even to the
ones who have nothing to give to us. This feeling of obligation is
amazingly shown through Murray’s poem and unveils the human to
human relationship people are not even aware of.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
It wasn’t his ugliness that startled me. It was mostly
that he hadn’t been expected, and when I flipped on the porch
he was eating from the cats’ bowl, and when I tapped
the frost-edged glass, he looked up, the way the cats do,
and then he waited through that moment
of not knowing what was next—
as if I were Peter at the Gate, and it could go either way.
I tried to squeeze his opossum shape, his oversized
head and pointed snout, his dull black eyes and wormy tail
into the tidy image of a cat that I’d brought to the door with me.
But even though we gave it our best,
we realized, almost right away, that it was impossible,
and we had to pool our efforts and do what was
expected: I had to pull the door open—even though
the threat it made at that point was less than a child’s
and once it had been done, he had to back away from the
giving up the incomprehensible gift he’d just come upon,
and slink down the steps—not quickly, mind you,
because he guessed, dumb beggar, I wouldn’t pursue him,
only leave him to his hunger and the dicey scraps of winter
as the stars did in December when he came.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
But it wasn’t as if I could lift the kitchen window and throw
a nickel or a dime to him and watch him go away happy—
the way we did back in the City,
when the beggars—that’s what my mother
called them—would come in winter
to sing in the backyards below our apartment windows
with their clear bright faces and beautiful voices
and the mystery of the coins ringing down from above,
rolling and skipping, and them bending and scraping
and tipping their hats and going away,
even though we weren’t rich either.
No, he was more like the ones we’d come upon
in the places where we were forbidden to go,
the ones our mothers called bums—the wild-eyed
grizzled ones, lying on their slit cardboard boxes
under the bridge ramps even in winter,
or raving along the tracks with their hands down
their pants
because of the lice, or pissing in an alley as we
ran through
and slowly turning midstream to call after us—
Have you got a nickel or a dime?—the ugly
ones, the ones who had no songs, the ones
with nothing to give us.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
The poem Her Head by Joan Murray is a delicate poem explaining human nature.
Murray says a numerous amount of times “yet carries the water on her head”. What
she means by this is, no matter the circumstance, the woman is determined to bring
the water to her people. “No milk now for children, but she carries the water on
her head.” “She returns from a well, carrying the water on her head.” These lines
exemplify the meaning of this poem. What times are tough, it’s important to push
through. This woman has gone through deserts and waves of heat to bring the
difference between life and death to her people. She brought them their water.
Near Ekuvukeni
in Natal, South Africa,
a woman carries water on her head.
After a year of drought,
when one child in three is at risk of death,
she returns from a distant well,
carrying water on her head.
The pumpkins are gone,
the tomatoes withered,
yet the woman carries water on her head.
The cattle kraals are empty,
the goats gaunt—
no milk now for children,
but she is carrying water on her head
The engineers have reversed the river:
those with power can keep their power,
but one woman is carrying water on her
In the homelands, where the dusty crowds
watch the empty roads for water trucks,
one woman trusts herself with treasure,
and carries the water on her head.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
The sun does not dissuade her,
not the dried earth that blows against her,
as she carries the water on her head.
In a huge and dirty pail,
with an idle handle,
resting on a narrow can,
this woman is carrying water on her head.
This woman, who girds her neck
with safety pins, this one
who carries water on her head,
trusts her own head to bring to her people
what they need now
between life and death:
She is carrying them water on her head.
My father would tie a life jacket
to a length of seaworn rope and dangle me
off the dock of the Harlem boat Club float.
A strange baptism.
List of Works Down, down into the mad rushing river,
worm on a hook, a girl of six or seven,
I am let loose among water rats, made sister
to half-filled soda cans floating
vertically home from a picnic, and to condoms
Sample Poems that look like mama doll socks
in the unopened infant eye.
What man would toss his child to that swill?
He who can swim across the river,
whose arms churn a feud with the current.
Inspired Poems He thinks he can hold me from any maelstrom.
Safe on the dock, I watch my father
float on his back, from the Bronx
to Manhattan and back again.
Original Poems
The Harlem Boat Club is the man place.
My father slips down twice a week to shower,
on weekends plays a sweaty game
of four-wall ball. Outside in the garden,
I wander six years old among lilies
of the valley, Queen Anne's lace,
the shoreline irises and great climbing rose
that began as someone's potted plant.
Elmer, the muscular black cat,
drags a water rat to the front door. I follow
to the boat room, run my hand along
the lean flanks of polished rowing sculls,
then up the stairway, pause at the wooden
the names with gold stars dead in some war.
Then the sweat smell of the lockers,
the place where they held a party
to welcome the Beatty brothers home from
Off to the side, three men
stand naked in the steamy, tiled shower.
Quiet, I sit down on a bench
beside a girl my own age, who has also come
to pretend she doesn't notice.
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
Still my close, though distant, friend,
who sat with me in the men's locker room,
whose father had a strong right arm for handball,
whose mother and mine, embarrassed
in their forties, had pregnancies,
who accompanied me through puberty
up and down the Harlem shore,
Kathy, in your Brahmin home in Brooklyn,
you say you want to rid your sleep of those
dirty years along the river. But stop for a moment,
stop trying to make the river pass genteelly,
for there'll be no weaning from those waters.
Instead come back with me and watch
the sun glint off the rippling surface,
bearing the shore –hugging flow of turds and
condoms north to the Hudson.
You conjectured it all came from cabin cruisers
on some far-off glory ocean.
Kathy, would you have even looked
if you had known it came from humble tenements
on our Highbridge hill?
Could that one reflection
have darkened all your plans to sail?
The sun dances
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
The girl swings
Smiles a friendly reminder she is home
Years pass
Parents divorce
Money spent
Life is now forever changed
Now becoming a distant dream
Now becoming a distant emotion
Now becoming a distant memory
All that is left
Is the future
The unknown awaits you
Could that one reflection
Have darkened all your plans to sail?
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
Would it surprise the young men
playing softball on the hill to hear the women
on the terrace admiring their bodies:
The slim waist of the pitcher. The strength
of the runner's legs. The torso of the catcher
—rising off his knees to toss the ball back to the mound?
Would it embarrass them
to hear two women, sitting together after dinner,
praising even their futile motions:
The flex of a batter's hips
before his missed swing. The wide-spread stride
of a man picked off his base. The intensity
on the new man's face
—as he waits on deck and fans the air?
Would it annoy them—the way some women
take offense when men caress them with their eyes?
And why should it surprise me that these women,
well past sixty, haven't put aside desire
but sit at ease and in pleasure,
watching the young men move above the rose garden—
where the marble Naiads
pose and yawn in their fountain?
Who better than these women (with their sweaters
draped across their shoulders, their perspectives
honed from years of lovers) to recognize
the beauty that would otherwise
go unnoticed on this hill?
And will it compromise their pleasure,
if I sit down at their table: to listen to the play-by-play
and see it through their eyes?
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
Would it distract the young men—if they realized
that three women laughing softly on the terrace
above closed books and half-filled wine glasses
are moving beside them on the field?
Would they want to know how they've been
held to the light—till some motion or expression
showed the unsuspected loveliness
in a common shape or face?
Wouldn't they have liked to see
how they looked down there—
as they stood for a moment at the plate—
bathed in the light of perfect expectation
—before their shadows lengthened. Before they
walked together up the darkened hill—
so beautiful they would not have
recognized themselves.
Would it surprise the young men?
To know that women are striding their way forward
List of Works
Would it surprise the young men?
To see women running the show
Would it surprise the young men?
That they have to change their traditional ways of thinking
Sample Poems
Would it surprise the young men?
They are no longer dominant
Centuries of work
And finally changes
Inspired Poems
Millions of protests
And finally changes
Handfuls of strong women
And finally changes
Original Poems
It’s called evolution
And it has graced our world with its presence
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems
Romance is the ups and downs
Of the tides of the ocean
Mourning is the sleep she craves
The leap of fate that all went wrong
Hidden in the twilight
Such a fragile soul
Cruelty upon her
Wanting to pursue something more
Masked faces of children
Graceful attitudes yet so
Big seas of desire
This they will never experience
Darkness is her beauty
Distance is all she knows
She craves more than she could ever grasp
Glory a long lost fantasy
A breeze blows across her face
Unveiling the pain she has to endure
Deliriousness has come upon her
One slippery slope after another
All one dreadful dream
She is unknown to the outside world
Her misery a sacred secret
All that exists is the bright light at the end of her tunnel
Pools of blue slosh around
Skies spin in confusion
List of Works
Stars twinkle in optimism
These are the eyes
Of such a young girl
The world is happy place, a place where all is fair and all is loved
Sample Poems
In this world, everyone is peaceful, everything is right
In this world, reality is yet to be discovered
So many of us want to go back to this world
Inspired Poems
We envy the eyes this girl holds
We envy so much her surroundings
Your world is your outlook
And her eyes the envy
Original Poems
List of Works
Sample Poems rray&source=bl&ots=gvKk_uAiQZ&sig=xEe10RUnNQ79Ne4LaBygVKUMaNs&hl=en&ei=t4a9TeveK6nr0g
Inspired Poems qX8qCnRia9idzM:&tbnh=160&tbnw=213&ei=k_69Tf6sKMHEgQfjaG1Bw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dblue%2Beyes%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_e
Original Poems AmericanFlag.jpg&imgrefurl=
List of Works
Sample Poems
Inspired Poems
Original Poems

similar documents