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Page 1: By Bre Keller Sample Poems Biography List of Works Sample Poems Inspired Poems Original Poems Bibliography.

JOAN MURRAYBy Bre Keller

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LIVING LIFE AND CHANGING PEOPLE “Sometimes [poetry] holds your hand to the fire—but, even so, it holds your hand.”

-Joan Murray (“Joan Murray”Poetryfoundation.org)

 

 

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” PoetryOutloud.org).

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 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 she likes to pull different things from different writers (“Joan Murray” JoanMurray.com). 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 New York Times, and The Nation (“Joan Murray” Panix.com).

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LIVING LIFE AND CHANGING PEOPLE CONT.

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 the public. Many people are so inspired by her writings 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 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” Panhala.net). Murray always intended to make a difference but she had no idea how large the impact would be. She is thankful for what she can do and what she has achieved.

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LIST OF WORKS

“Her Head”“Eternity”“Survivors—Found”“She’s Coming!”“Coming of Age in Harlem”“What Was Expected”“Play by Play”“Chrysalis”“We Old Dudes”“The Same Water”Poems to Live By

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SURVIVORS--FOUND We thought that they were gone--

we rarely saw them on our screens--those everyday Americanswith 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.

But with the wounds of Tuesdaywhen the smoke began to clear,we rubbed away our stony gaze--and watched them reappear:

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 ablazeas he climbed the swaying stairs--he knew someone might still be saved.We wondered who it was.

We glimpsed them through the rubble: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 bucketsfilled with stone and grief and ash:

some spoke adifferent language--still no one missed a phrase;the soot had softened every faceof every shade and age--

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SURVIVORS--FOUND

"the greatest generation" ?--we wondered where they'd gone--they hadn't left directionshow 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

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ANALYSIS OF SURVIVORS--FOUND

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 alive-they 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.

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WHAT WAS EXPECTED

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 open-even 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.

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WHAT WAS EXPECTED

It wasn’t his ugliness that startled me. It was mostlythat he hadn’t been expected, and when I flipped on the porch light,he was eating from the cats’ bowl, and when I tappedthe frost-edged glass, he looked up, the way the cats do,and then he waited through that momentof 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 oversizedhead and pointed snout, his dull black eyes and wormy tailinto 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 wasexpected: I had to pull the door open—even thoughthe threat it made at that point was less than a child’s bluff—and once it had been done, he had to back away from the bowl,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 winteras the stars did in December when he came.

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WHAT WAS EXPECTED

But it wasn’t as if I could lift the kitchen window and throwa 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 mothercalled them—would come in winterto sing in the backyards below our apartment windowswith their clear bright faces and beautiful voicesand the mystery of the coins ringing down from above,rolling and skipping, and them bending and scrapingand tipping their hats and going away,even though we weren’t rich either.

No, he was more like the ones we’d come uponin the places where we were forbidden to go,the ones our mothers called bums—the wild-eyedgrizzled ones, lying on their slit cardboard boxesunder the bridge ramps even in winter,or raving along the tracks with their hands down their pantsbecause of the lice, or pissing in an alley as we ran throughand slowly turning midstream to call after us—Have you got a nickel or a dime?—the uglyones, the ones who had no songs, the oneswith nothing to give us.

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HER HEAD

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 Ekuvukeniin 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 head.In the homelands, where the dusty crowdswatch the empty roads for water trucks,one woman trusts herself with treasure,and carries the water on her head.

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HER HEAD

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 neckwith safety pins, this onewho carries water on her head,trusts her own head to bring to her peoplewhat they need nowbetween life and death:She is carrying them water on her head.

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COMING OF AGE IN HARLEM

My father would tie a life jacketto a length of seaworn rope and dangle meoff the dock of the Harlem boat Club float.A strange baptism.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 sisterto half-filled soda cans floatingvertically home from a picnic, and to condomsthat look like mama doll socksin 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.He thinks he can hold me from any maelstrom.Safe on the dock, I watch my fatherfloat on his back, from the Bronxto Manhattan and back again.

The Harlem Boat Club is the man place.My father slips down twice a week to shower,on weekends plays a sweaty gameof four-wall ball. Outside in the garden,I wander six years old among liliesof the valley, Queen Anne's lace,the shoreline irises and great climbing rosethat began as someone's potted plant.Elmer, the muscular black cat,drags a water rat to the front door. I follow insideto the boat room, run my hand alongthe lean flanks of polished rowing sculls,then up the stairway, pause at the wooden roster,the names with gold stars dead in some war.Then the sweat smell of the lockers,the place where they held a partyto welcome the Beatty brothers home from Korea.Off to the side, three menstand naked in the steamy, tiled shower.Quiet, I sit down on a benchbeside a girl my own age, who has also cometo pretend she doesn't notice.

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COMING OF AGE IN HARLEM

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, embarrassedin their forties, had pregnancies,who accompanied me through pubertyup and down the Harlem shore,Kathy, in your Brahmin home in Brooklyn,you say you want to rid your sleep of thosedirty 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 watchthe sun glint off the rippling surface,bearing the shore –hugging flow of turds andcondoms north to the Hudson.You conjectured it all came from cabin cruiserson some far-off glory ocean.Kathy, would you have even lookedif you had known it came from humble tenementson our Highbridge hill?Could that one reflectionhave darkened all your plans to sail?

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FUTUREBY BRE KELLER

The sun dancesThe girl swingsSmiles a friendly reminder she is

homeYears passParents divorceMoney spentLife is now forever changedCollegeNow becoming a distant dreamHappinessNow becoming a distant emotionSmilesNow becoming a distant memoryAll that is leftIs the futureThe unknown awaits youCould that one reflectionHave darkened all your plans to sail?

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PLAY BY PLAY

Would it surprise the young menplaying softball on the hill to hear the womenon the terrace admiring their bodies:The slim waist of the pitcher. The strengthof the runner's legs. The torso of the catcher—rising off his knees to toss the ball back to the mound?Would it embarrass themto hear two women, sitting together after dinner,praising even their futile motions:The flex of a batter's hipsbefore his missed swing. The wide-spread strideof a man picked off his base. The intensityon the new man's face—as he waits on deck and fans the air?

Would it annoy them—the way some womentake offense when men caress them with their eyes?And why should it surprise me that these women,well past sixty, haven't put aside desirebut sit at ease and in pleasure,watching the young men move above the rose garden—where the marble Naiadspose and yawn in their fountain?Who better than these women (with their sweatersdraped across their shoulders, their perspectiveshoned from years of lovers) to recognizethe beauty that would otherwisego unnoticed on this hill?And will it compromise their pleasure,if I sit down at their table: to listen to the play-by-playand see it through their eyes?

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PLAY BY PLAY

Would it distract the young men—if they realizedthat three women laughing softly on the terraceabove closed books and half-filled wine glassesare moving beside them on the field?Would they want to know how they've beenheld to the light—till some motion or expressionshowed the unsuspected lovelinessin a common shape or face?Wouldn't they have liked to seehow 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 theywalked together up the darkened hill—so beautiful they would not haverecognized themselves.

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EVOLUTIONBY BRE KELLER

Would it surprise the young men?

To know that women are striding their way forward

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

Would it surprise the young men?

They are no longer dominant

Centuries of work

And finally changes

Millions of protests

And finally changes

Handfuls of strong women

And finally changes

It’s called evolution

And it has graced our world with its presence

 

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DARKNESSBY BRE KELLER

Romance is the ups and downsOf the tides of the oceanMourning is the sleep she cravesThe leap of fate that all went wrongHidden in the twilightSuch a fragile soulCruelty upon herWanting to pursue something moreMasked faces of childrenGraceful attitudes yet soBig seas of desireThis they will never experienceDarkness is her beautyDistance is all she knowsShe craves more than she could ever graspGlory a long lost fantasyA breeze blows across her faceUnveiling the pain she has to endureDeliriousness has come upon herOne slippery slope after anotherAll one dreadful dreamShe is unknown to the outside worldHer misery a sacred secretAll that exists is the bright light at the end of her tunnel

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HER EYESBY BRE KELLER

Pools of blue slosh around

Skies spin in confusion

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

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

We envy the eyes this girl holds

We envy so much her surroundings

Your world is your outlook

And her eyes the envy

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SOURCES http://www.joanmurray.com/ http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst/web

pages4/archives/murray.html http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/jo

an-murray http://www.panhala.net/Archive/Her_H

ead.html http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems/p

oem.html?id=237680 http://www.panix.com/~hamiltro/films_

videos/fvmores/joan.htm http://www.poemhunter.com/joan-murr

ay/ http://books.google.com/books?id=ZP

Z9DoKGAD4C&pg=PA296&lpg=PA296&dq=poems+by+joan+murray&source=bl&ots=gvKk_uAiQZ&sig=xEe10RUnNQ79Ne4LaBygVKUMaNs&hl=en&ei=t4a9TeveK6nr0gHm7M3dBQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=5&ved=0CEAQ6AEwBDgK#v=onepage&q=poems%20by%20joan%20murray&f=false

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u15/Blue_eye.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200810/barbie-manufactured-mattel-designed-evolution-vii&usg=__OQDDqpA7zrL6LK1hf7UFUjZzes8=&h=296&w=419&sz=41&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=qX8qCnRia9idzM:&tbnh=160&tbnw=213&ei=k_69Tf6sKMHEgQfj-aG1Bw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dblue%2Beyes%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=280&page=1&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:1,s:0&tx=189&ty=82

http://dark.pozadia.org/wallpaper/Dark-Infinity-Railway/

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.americanflagfoundation.org/shop/images/T/American-Flag.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.americanflagfoundation.org/shop/home.php%3Fcat%3D2&usg=__msnlyfc2XbeAyfQ9pO12LdDBj5Q=&h=336&w=508&sz=27&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=30ZjZwF-dNbIiM:&tbnh=160&tbnw=214&ei=df-9TY-NFMrZgAfssuWrBw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Damerican%2Bflag%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=957&vpy=245&dur=187&hovh=182&hovw=276&tx=111&ty=65&page=1&ndsp=15&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0

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SOURCES

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.mccullagh.org/db9/1ds-4/sandstorm-sahara-desert.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.mccullagh.org/photo/1ds-4/sandstorm-sahara-desert&usg=__RF-WHKb6b-s0lSsw9zOZFhFhkus=&h=512&w=768&sz=88&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=GKlyfrSWisVVhM:&tbnh=143&tbnw=211&ei=pf-9TevpCpPfgQfd9uWrBw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Ddesert%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26tbm%3Disch0%2C107&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=958&vpy=179&dur=2044&hovh=183&hovw=275&tx=261&ty=108&page=1&ndsp=21&ved=1t:429,r:9,s:0&biw=1259&bih=800

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://worshippingchristian.org/images/blog/tears.jpg&imgrefurl=http://worshippingchristian.org/blog/%3Fm%3D200906&usg=__ghSzDAizgR0gd7v17JvVuUF4GCY=&h=312&w=400&sz=17&hl=en&start=0&zoom=1&tbnid=uELbLZNhNV_EUM:&tbnh=145&tbnw=186&ei=JQC-TdGMLYPrgQfPgvynBw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dtears%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=132&vpy=288&dur=640&hovh=198&hovw=254&tx=132&ty=127&page=1&ndsp=24&ved=1t:429,r:6,s:0

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://pitech.biz/Pages/Products/evolution_ring.gif&imgrefurl=http://pitech.biz/Pages/Products/Products%2520Page.htm&usg=__9iFdy_CVN3GkeGqC7sHGxLFaY4U=&h=333&w=300&sz=3&hl=en&start=15&zoom=1&tbnid=BCk_XfuYv7B-XM:&tbnh=147&tbnw=131&ei=gQC-TZ3EJ4bJgQfa8-CxAw&prev=/search%3Fq%3Devolution%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26site%3Dsearch%26tbm%3Disch&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=234&page=2&ndsp=23&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:15&tx=65&ty=82

http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.handymanhowto.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/tree-swing.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.handymanhowto.com/2008/09/23/how-to-build-a-rope-tree-swing/&usg=__gaSGwrHSpAY52W83sjrDlxKY9jo=&h=549&w=450&sz=140&hl=en&start=18&zoom=1&tbnid=DNPeoiMUg0hzLM:&tbnh=154&tbnw=125&ei=pending&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dswing%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS423%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D800%26tbm%3Disch0%2C453&um=1&itbs=1&biw=1259&bih=800&iact=rc&dur=514&page=2&ndsp=26&ved=1t:429,r:10,s:18&tx=80&ty=79

http://northernvalentine.com/mainpage.html

       

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