Shelia Murphy's Reporting Live From You Know Where
My introduction to political poetry came with the Poets Against the War movement, back in 2001, within weeks of 911. Since then, political poetry has been part of the mainstream, wth many anthologies and collections published every year. Reporting Live From You Know Where, by author and poet, Sheila E. Murphy, is a chapbook length hay(na)ku sequence of poems written after 45 was elected president. Winner of 2018 Hay(nu)ka Book Prize, it spans 65+ pages in a seamless and imagist narrative, but it also goes beyond the polemics required for political poetry.
Reporting Live is written in the hay(na)ku style (a 21st century poetic form invented by Eileen R. Tabios. It is a six-word tercet with the first line being one word, the second line being two words, and the third line being three words - www.eileenrtabios.com). Murphy’s distilled the vast gulf of rage and chaos that currently divides the United States into a series of powerful, raw micro-moments the reader can immediately relate to, even beyond the political context:
look at what
the right reflex
Within Reporting Live, Murphy brings to light those issues 45’s base patently ignores: sexual harassment and accountability (you claim inevitability/I should/know, sides/of her/face suspiciously unmatched); 45’s constant assertion of lies as truth (those/ declarations of/what he thinks, spare little old/us from/this, ongoing/figurative aggravated/assault on sensate); the fake news epidemic (loss glossed over/decibels functioning/as, smoothness/for perps/seeking confirmation everywhere); and GOP’s dismantling of democracy (why/are you/here to explain, these inquiring others/seeking just/relief, from/you, your/spontaneous theft swiping, what we have/worked years/for). Murphy’s vision and lyricism are laser focused through the hay(na)ku sequence, which makes Reporting Live a quick read, at first. A second, and then, third reading of Reporting Live will give the reader a deeper appreciation of Murphy’s skill with rousing the reader to empathize with the frustration that she, and the reader, as citizens, experience under 45’s regime.
Beyond the concern and rage expressed, is a clear warning in Reporting Live: to be vigilant against the “new normal, and to hold onto the real real truth of who each of us is, in an era where everyone else is too beaten down to care. This is why, in my opinion, Murphy’s words need to be memorized, as a mantra against the dark:
here i am
tones deliciously intoned
the only one
is Sheila Murphy
an epic misunderstanding
Reporting Live From You Know Where, Sheila E. Murphy, © 2018 Meritage Press/i.e. press and xPress(ed), 70 pages, ISBN 978-1-934299-12-8, $12.00 US.
(previously published in issue 40 of Clockwise Cat, 2019)
Marie C Lecrivain
Marie C Lecrivain is the executive editor and publisher of poeticdiversity: the litzine of Los Angeles, a jewelry designer, and a writer in residence at her apartment.
Her prose and poetry have appeared in a number of journals and anthologies, including: The Los Angeles Review, Nonbinary Review, Gargoyle, Pirene's Fountain, Orbis, A New Ulster, and others.
Marie's newest poetry chapbook, Fourth Planet From the Sun, will be published in 2020 by Rum Razor Press. She's an associate fiction/essay editor for The Good Works Review, and the editor of several anthologies including Octavia's Brood: Words and Art inspired by O.E. Butler (© 2014 Sybaritic Press), and Rubicon: Words and Art Inspired by Oscar Wilde's "De Profundis" (© 2015 Sybaritic Press).
Marie's avocations include photography; meditation; Libers CCXX and XV; marmosets; Christopher Eccleston, H.P. Lovecraft, and Sean Bean (depending on what day of the week it is); her co-owned cat Guinness; misfit and vintage dolls; the number seven, and sensual tributes upon her neck from male artists-except male poets, who only write about it.
"Writing is like having sex with a beautiful freak; adventurous and uncomfortable to the extreme." - m. lecrivain 2004