Heaven Overland

Jim Murphy, Kennesaw State University


While some singularity or egotism may be unavoidable in poetry, not every poet chooses, as Jim Murphy does, to temper subjectivity with sensitivity to the world around him. Murphy's choice-or his compulsion-to attend to his community, its geographies and histories, is a gift to all readers: this poetry concerns us as much as anything else. Over the last fifty years, American's most visible poetry has been a poetry of ego and personality, in which the writer's self serves as a primary subject-so much so the most readers seem to expect every poem to be a confession or autobiography. But the poetry of community-of environment, of city, of nation-the poetry of concern has also abided, albeit less visibly, as a counterpoise. Heaven Overland draws from both traditions. As it turns outward, this collection extends the ethical tradition, and as it turns inward, marries the subjective to the receptive, recalling Whitman's work more perfectly. This is to say that this book is important, that its commitments and accomplishments are rare and always to be kept in mind.