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Erin Murphy

Class of 1990

Erin Murphy is the author of four collections of poetry: Dislocation and Other Theories (Word Press, 2008); Too Much of This World (Mammoth Books, 2008), winner of the Anthony Piccione Poetry Prize;Science of Desire (Word Press, 2004), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize for the best poetry book of 2004; and Word Problems (forthcoming from Word Press). With Todd Davis, she is co-editor ofMaking Poems: 40 Poems with Commentary by the Poets (State University of New York Press, 2010).

Her awards include a $5,000 2006 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, the 2006 Foley Poetry Award, the 2004 National Writers’ Union Poetry Award judged by Donald Hall, and fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, the Maryland State Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac and have appeared in dozens of journals and in several anthologies, including 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, edited by Billy Collins (Random House, 2005). She is assistant professor of English and creative writing at the Pennsylvania State University, Altoona College.

Background

Erin Murphy ’90 credits her fascination with language to Evil Knievel—she watched Viva Knievel at a drive-in when she was nine and waited through the entire movie for the appearance of the woman she supposed was the daredevil’s wife, “Viva.”

“It wasn’t until later that I learned that ‘Viva’ was not a person but an imperative—and much later still that I learned what an imperative was. I would—and still do—dwell on such misprisions.”

Erin has parlayed her passion for language and all its nuances into three collections of poetry:Dislocation and Other Theories (Word Press, 2008); Too Much of This World (Mammoth Books, forthcoming); and Science of Desire (Word Press, 2004), as well as a successful career as a poet and teacher.

Erin first learned of Washington College when an admissions counselor visited her high school in Richmond, Virginia. “A subsequent tour of the Literary House convinced me that WC was the college for me. In fact, I didn’t even apply anywhere else.”

She was not disappointed. James Tate, William Styron, Lucille Clifton and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (one of her early icons) were among the many writers who visited campus during Erin’s years as a student. “Hearing established writers read was impressive, but meeting them, talking informally with them, dining with them during group dinners at the Lit House, and driving them to the train station really helped to demystify the writing life.”

Erin has garnered many awards since her graduation, including a recent $5,000 Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize. Her poems have appeared in dozens of journals and in several anthologies, including 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, edited by Billy Collins (Random House, 2005). She is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Penn State Altoona.

“As a student at the College, I had the opportunity to teach creative writing in the community, to organize visits by award-winning writers, to write grants and press releases, to edit publications, and to publish my own work on campus and beyond. The combination of these experiences was like a preview of an academic career in creative writing. I love having a job for which I am not only allowed but expected to immerse myself in all things literary.”

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