Timothy Murphy (poet)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Timothy Murphy
Timothy Murphy

(1951-01-10)January 10, 1951
DiedJune 30, 2018(2018-06-30) (aged 67)
OccupationPoet, businessman

Timothy Iver Murphy (January 10, 1951 – June 30, 2018) was an American poet and businessman.[1] Reviewing Timothy Murphy's second collection in Contemporary Poetry Review in 2002, Paul Lake observed that "What was to the Aegean and Virgil was to the Tyrrhenian Sea, so Murphy is to the vast inland sea of wheat that breaks at the foot of the Rockies." An awfully extravagant claim, but Murphy's critical reception has always been strong.

Early life[edit]

Murphy studied at Yale University under Robert Penn Warren, graduating (B.A.) as Scholar of the House in Poetry in 1972.[2] However, Warren advised Murphy against an academic career, urging him instead to return to the "rich soil" of his rural roots.[3][4] Murphy returned to Minnesota, and subsequently became involved in several farming and manufacturing enterprises in North Dakota, experiences which are reflected in his later writing.[2]

Work and career[edit]

Murphy published his first collection of poetry, The Deed Of Gift, in 1998; the collection represents all of Murphy's work as a poet through about 1996. In a contemporary review of the volume, Gerry Cambridge summarized Murphy's accomplishment: "There are outstanding poems here, including 'Harvest of Sorrows', 'Sunset at the Getty', and 'The Quarrel', as well as a great number of very likeable, individual, and tautly-made pieces. It would be hard to confuse Murphy with any other contemporary poet. No one else writing poetry in English sounds quite like him." [5] As poet Dick Davis has noted, this distinctive style owes much to Murphy's use of traditional meter and rhyme, unusual among poets today: "His poems are wholly his own, and yet the voice in them lives in and through his mastery of traditional metre, which is so thorough as to seem indivisible from the poems' sensibility and meaning." [2] This focus on rhyme and meter is exemplified in the following excerpt from "Harvest of Sorrows":

When swift brown swallows
return to their burrows
and diamond willows
leaf in the hollows,
when barrows wallow
and brood sows farrow,
we sow the black furrows
behind our green harrows.

— excerpt from "Harvest of Sorrows" [6]

Murphy's publications are now the province of The North Dakota State University Press. Their first publication is Devotions, a substantial (160 page) collection that gathers poems from his return to the Catholic Church in 2005 through 2012. Dana Gioia concludes his introduction: "These are genuine poems rooted in a passionate encounter with the divine. I predict they will find many devoted readers." Later in 2017 they will publish Hunter's Log, Volumes II and III, twice the length of Volume I, which will again feature illustrations by the great Eldridge Hardie. Murphy jokes that he has more inventory than Ford Motor Company, and he has eight more individual collections in queue at his hometown press. Like Mortal Stakes/Faint Thunder they will appear as four double volumes. They are Miles to Go/Winter in the Woods, Works and Days/Travels with Chucky, Creature of the Wild/Fall Ploughing, and Grave Grandeur/Songs and Sonets. When these appear they will bring his twelve individual collections to more than 1000 pages.


  • Murphy, Timothy (1998). The Deed of Gift. Introduction by Richard Wilbur. Ashland, Oregon: Story Line Press. ISBN 1-885266-62-6. A collection of Murphy's poetry.
  • Murphy, Timothy (2000). Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir. Woodcuts by Charles Beck. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press. ISBN 978-0-8214-1321-0. Reviewed by David Solheim.[7]
  • Murphy, Timothy (2002). Very Far North. Introduction by Anthony Hecht. Ewell, Surrey: Waywiser Press. ISBN 1-904130-01-1. Murphy's second collection of poetry.
  • Sullivan, Alan; Murphy, Timothy (2004). Anderson, Sarah, ed. Beowulf. Longman Press. ISBN 0-321-10720-9. Verse translation of Beowulf. Alan Sullivan was Murphy's partner.[8][9]
  • Murphy, Timothy (August 15, 2011). Mortal Stakes and Faint Thunder. The Dakota Institute. ISBN 978-0982559772.
  • Murphy, Timothy (October 1, 2011). Hunter's Log. Original art by Eldridge Hardie. The Dakota Institute. ISBN 978-0982559796.


  1. ^ "Tim Murphy, poet of Plains and pheasants, dies in Fargo". wday.com. Retrieved 3 July 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Timothy Murphy, Very Far North". Archived from the original on 2007-02-20. (collected reviews)
  3. ^ Murphy, Timothy (Spring 1998). "Reminiscences of Robert Penn Warren" (PDF). The Dark Horse: 8.
  4. ^ Haven, Cynthia (November 2001). "Interview:Timothy Murphy". Cortland Review. Archived from the original on 2006-10-24.
  5. ^ Cambridge, Gerry (Autumn 1999). "Rich Gleanings: The Deed of Gift, by Timothy Murphy" (PDF). The Dark Horse: 68–71. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2006-09-30.
  6. ^ Murphy, Timothy; Wilbur, Richard (1998). "Harvest of Sorrows". The Deed of Gift. Ashland, Oregon: Story Line Press. ISBN 1-885266-62-6.
  7. ^ Solheim, David R. (October 1, 2001). "Review of Set the Ploughshare Deep: A Prairie Memoir By Timothy Murphy". Great Plains Quarterly: Paper 2202.
  8. ^ Sullivan, Alan. "About Author". Fresh Bilge.
  9. ^ Loy, Brendan (July 9, 2009). "R.I.P. Alan Sullivan, 1948–2010". Archived from the original on July 30, 2014.

Further reading[edit]