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Poet-in-residence Fall 2000 & Spring 2001

Previous Visit:
NYS Writers Institute, October 26, 1999

Joan Murray is the author of six books, including Looking for the Parade (1999, W.W. Norton & Co, ISBN 0-393-04727-X), winner of the 1998 National Poetry Series (judged and selected by Robert Bly); Queen of the Mist: The Forgotten Heroine of Niagara (1999, Beacon); and The Same Water (1990, Wesleyan), Wesleyan New Poets Series winner.

Queen of the MistQueen of the Mist is a narrative poem which tells the true story of Annie Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Joyce Carol Oates, who chose the book as runner-up for the Poetry Society of American's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, called Queen of the Mist, "imaginative, bold and suspenseful; a tour de force of narrative history and 'myth.'" Poet Alicia Ostriker asserts, "Murray has created an unforgettable woman: proud, brave, ridiculous and poignant; this heroic anti-heroine will carry you with her, over Niagara Falls and beyond." Most recently, Murray has adapted Queen of the Mist as a theatrical piece for the Jijamcyn Theatres (the Broadway theatre group) for an anticipated 2001 production.

Looking for the Parade examines some harrowing events of the passing century and the ordinary people who participated in them, as well as the narrator's own interior life. Robert Bly concluded," in Looking for the Parade, Joan Murray established herself as one of our most moving and dramatic poets."

She is also the recipient of PSA's Gordon Barber Award, a Knight Foundation Fellowship at Yaddo, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

". . .one of our most gifted younger poets." - Joyce Carol Oates

Looking for the Paradepraise for Looking for the Parade. . .

"Joan Murray is that rare poet who is really interested in the world. . . Her poetry is skilled, compassionate, wary, and passionate." - Robert Bly

"From poems of unflinching reportage to more loosely held meditations reminiscent of Bishop, Joan Murray's poems look all ways in the direction of the book's title foretells: splendidly and fiercely outward. With a clarity both painterly and inventive, they survey cemeteries of many kinds, a general store, the hidden life of a pet shop, the revealed life of an individual face and hands--and draw from what they regard a quietly moving celebration of our shared human fate. This is a collection of perception, range, acceptance, and grace." - Jane Hirshfield

"These poems glow with light and enlightenment, both: they attend the beat of everyday life, and mightily as well as poignantly affirm a poet's knowing lyricism." -Robert Coles

Annie Taylorpraise for Queen of the Mist . . .

". . . her strongest achievement to date. It's imaginative, bold, and suspenseful; a tour de force of narrative, history, and myth. And above all, it's a portrait of a woman so achingly intimate it will linger long in your memory." - Joyce Carol Oates

"Murray has created an unforgettable woman: proud, brave, ridiculous and poignant; this heroic anti-heroine will carry you with her, over Niagara Falls and beyond." - Alicia Ostriker

praise for The Same Water. . .

"I am amazed by the world that Joan Murray was able to bring to life--or bring back to life in her poems. I am haunted by her passionate and honest voice, by her relentless courage, by the terrible and beautiful moments. I am most of all moved by her knowledge and her moral exactness. Her wisdom." - Gerald Stern

Born in New York City, Murray has taught at Lehman College of the City University of New York, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and many community organizations. She is an arts consultant and serves as artist representative for the New York State Arts and Cultural Coalition, a legislative advocacy group. Her work has been published in Atlantic Monthly, Harpers, Ms., The Nation, the New York Times, The Best American Poetry 1999, and The Paris Review. Her fiction has appeared in The Village Voice, In the Looking Glass and elsewhere. She is Poetry co-editor (along with Billy Collins) of the 2001 25th Anniversary Edition of The Pushcart Prize. She lives with her husband in Old Chatham in upstate New York.

Edited by Joan Murray
A superb collection of poems to nourish our national spirit.

Features sixty of the finest poems by an international group of distinguished poets, including W. H. Auden, Czeslaw Milosz, Bertolt Brecht, Yehuda Amichai, Mary Oliver, Miguel de Unamuno, Gwendolyn Brooks, Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Sharon Olds. Murray has arranged the anthology in six sections that address our most urgent concerns: death and remembrance, fear and suffering, affirmations and rejoicings, warnings and instructions, war and rumors of war, meditations and conversations.

Additional Links:
Joan Murray Home Page

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at https://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.