20 years in the making: ASU professor Patricia Murphy releases book of poetry about her life

After spending 24 years inspiring students, ASU professor Patricia Murphy is now sharing her insights with the world in her new book of poetry, "Hemming Flames." 

Murphy spent 20 years writing the book, which was released in July 2016. It is a chronological narrative of her life, beginning at age 15 and ending after both her parents had passed away. Covering so much time and so much experience, her poetry reveals to her readers the intense and raw events that have shaped her life into what it is today.

Murphy said she has always loved to write. She grew up in Ohio, where she attended a performing arts high school that she said allowed her to practice writing under a rigorous curriculum and work at a professional level.

She made her trek to Arizona after applying for grad school, and established herself as a poet within publications such as the The Massachusetts Review, Black Warrior Review, Third Coast and many more.

“It has always been a passion of mine,” she said. “It’s hard for me to imagine a life not being a writer.”

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By Courtesy of Brad Rogers | The State Press

Patricia Murphy poses for a portrait in 2016. The ASU professor recently released a book of poetry inspired by her life, "Hemming Flames."

Murphy said she came to ASU 24 years ago and has taught over 200 classes on topics such as travel writing and magazine production.

Murphy’s love for creative writing and inspiring others led her to found ASU’s online literary magazine, Superstition Review in 2008. She and one student spent an entire semester researching and creating web design in order to establish the magazine. As the magazine gained prominence, more students began to participate with each passing semester.

“I wanted a student to walk into a job interview and talk about this magazine and have people actually know it,” Murphy said. “I wanted it to be an indication of top quality. I wanted this to be a legacy.”

Not only has the magazine left a legacy, Murphy has too. She said she wants to teach her students to understand, respect and treasure the literary arts and prepare her students to tackle the real world professionally. 

"Sometimes we leave academia, and we don't have a rubric or set assignment in front of us, (so) we don't know what to do," she said. "What I'm asking my students to do is fill in the blanks and anticipate what a professional situation might require of them."

Jessica Fletcher, ASU alumna and previous editor-in-chief of Superstition Review, said she was appreciative of Murphy’s guidance during her time at the magazine.

“She helped me gain confidence as a literary citizen and writer,” Fletcher said. “It never felt like work because she’s just so friendly and kind.”

But Fletcher said it’s Murphy’s poetry that left a lasting impact. Fletcher said reading "Hemming Flames" is like a “sucker punch in the stomach” but said she still felt good about it afterward.

“It gave me a whole new appreciation for who she is and also who she is as a mentor to me,” Fletcher said. “(Murphy) was able to take chaos and create artistry in a form that was constructive for her life. As a person struggling to find my way in the world, I connected with that.”

ASU professor Cynthia Hogue said the impact of Murphy's writing describes who Murphy is as a person.

“She's a superb poet, and the poems are a bit like (Murphy) herself — direct, no nonsense, powerful, sculpted poems,” Hogue said. “She's an inspiration, I know, to her students and a great model to them.”

Both Hogue and Fletcher said they admire Murphy’s courage and dynamic, not only in her writing but in her teaching as well.

Murphy's book is available to purchase at hemmingflames.com or on Amazon and Goodreads.


Reach the reporter at alexandra.k.myers@asu.edu or follow @akmyers2asu on Twitter.

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