Tuesday, February 20, 2018


Galatea Resurrects is pleased to present an excerpt from Sheila E. Murphy’s book-length poem Reporting Live from You Know Where which recently was awarded The Hay(na)ku Poetry Book Prize judged by hay(na)ku experts Vince Gotera, Jean Vengua, and Mark Young.  Sheila’s manuscript will be published by the original publishers of the first hay(na)ku anthologies, Meritage Press (San Francisco & St. Helena) and xPress(ed) (Finland), in 2018.  About this book, we also present some advance words by other poets who’ve written extensively in the  hay(na)ku form:

Reporting Live from You Know Where is a jeremiad, a book of lamentations, a poem "it/hurts to/write."  It is an edgy and affecting work of political art.  It is Murphy's masterpiece.
Tom Beckett

In her powerful new hay(na)ku long poem, Sheila E. Murphy brings her ceaselessly resourceful troping, her bold, imaginative leaps of association, to bear on our contemporary U.S. political situation, "replete/ with despair." Countering the "assault on sensate// being" with processual poises, she keenly exposes "rancor ill-disguised// as/ confidence" and "patriarchal dross." Although we learn that "it/ hurts to/ write this poem," Murphy will not permit us to be "excused/ from attention/ spanning," as she sings: "my/ country 'tis/ in pain, please// recover who we/ are again."
—Thomas Fink

Readers will recognize where Sheila E. Murphy is coming from. You will find such pleasure reading between the lines, meditating, and musing on the text, as she navigates recent history, modern-day politics, and popular culture, with her usual deftness, and musicality, that create an internal rhythm, sometimes through displacement, humor, measure, or esthetics. No matter what avenue Murphy takes, she will make you think. You will witness her expertise as with other verse forms, such as the non-English ghazal (the hay(na)ku is itself a naturalized form of the haiku), and will be affected by her spirituality. An evocative tour de force from one of America's leading contemporary poets.
—Javant Biarujia

from Reporting Live from You Know Where

nothing about this

feels quite




blanking what

just drive on

stamina may denote

routine energy



possibly investment,

your eminence, in

reporting live from

you know



the commandments

stand alone, until

you can, yes,

put your



this little

leader, you are

not yet God,

only partly



hurts to

write this poem,



and serve

first do no

harm, that motorcade

proceeding unimpeded



crowdless roadways

empty of feeling

yet replete with

despair the



catastrophic contagion

of sleazed over

unfeelingness father, forgive

them for



first person

irregular monstrosity boomer

boombox boomerang the

litmus doppelganging



honeymooning vagabonds

this close to

sentimental journey remembered

wrong homonyms



oversimplified take

the day on,

not off, think

if you



makes pure

watch this space


Sheila E. Murphy is an American text and visual poet who has been writing and publishing actively since 1978. She is the recipient of the Gertrude Stein Award for her book Letters to Unfinished J. (Green Integer Press, 2003). Murphy is known for working in forms including ghazals, haibun, and pantoums in her individual writing. As an active collaborator, she has worked with numerous writers in long poems spanning multiple volumes. Murphy’s visual work, both individual and collaborative, is shown in galleries and in private collections. Initially trained in instrumental and vocal music, her work is often associated with music in its language and rhythmic pulse. Murphy earns her living as an organizational consultant, speaker, and researcher and holds the PhD degree. She has lived in Phoenix, Arizona throughout her adult life.  Sheila E. Murphy’s Wiki Page

Monday, February 19, 2018



The Palace of Flowers by Gerry Grubbs
(Dos Madres, Loveland, OH, 2016)
“I no longer live in this or any other . . . world, I need some flowers.
--Mary Ruefle, My Private Property (2016)

One might be forgiven picking up Gerry Grubbs new book of poetry, The Palace of Flowers, and then thinking of Baudelaire.  Instead of fleurs du mal, though, Grubbs delivers fleurs de la romance. It is not too much to say that he delivers fifty-seven shades of romance from anticipation and infatuation to longing and heartbreak and to memory and desire. And, while reading the book, one longs to meet the dedicatee Mary.

Baudelaire and Grubbs both open their collections with an address to their readers.  Baudelaire’s opening is more of a warning and his view of the human condition brooks no romance. He sees his readers as stupid, sinful, and possessed by lust and hopeless boredom. It is a dark world full of obsessions, fetid smells, Nietzschean darkness, and Death.

Grubbs invites his readers to come to the Palace and enjoy the fragrance of his love. Instead of the dark world inhabited by death, Grubbs’ world is ethereal and it is a place where girls forever pick flowers for their hair. “And no one can remember/A time when this was not so.” (From No One Remembers.)

Memory, as much as flowers, serves as a motif for these poems. In No One Knows, Grubbs writes:

       I couldnt remember
       What had been promised
       But had expected it to be
       Something I would enjoy

            There is something eternal, primordial even, in these lines. Is it possible that memory of romance and of love predate existence? Are these emotions forever within us? Does memory leave its trace even when we cannot recall it?

            Just as memory links us to our larger selves, our selves of yearning, desire, surprise, and joy, flowers link us to the larger world of mountains and oceans and rivers. And that natural, physical world connects back to our emotions because the natural world gives us

That sense that
Something real
Never ends

* * * *

And thats something
Inside you
Longed to join
            (From Mountains and Oceans)

            At the heart of this entanglement between nature and self, between memory and existence, lies mystery as Grubbs writes in Bloom.

It is difficult to find the root
Of the vine that has grown into our lives

Its entanglement with all the others
Keeps it from being readily traced
Back to its beginning

But with patience with the willingness
To look under each leaf
To slowly extract it
We can find just the place it was planted
                    (From Night After Night)

            The mystery of it all, of the romance and of the love, is both intensified and frustrated by the difficulty of its expression.

I didnt want to say
What the evening was like
As if the smallest description
Would weaken it

Words may be poor vehicles to describe the ineffable but what else do we have if we are to communicate our love, our emotions, our wonder of the natural world and of the world within. Herein lies the function and purpose of poetry.  And, with poetry, It Begins:

It begins as a spark
Like a flower or a fallen star
You find while walking
Through your own field

Alone in the vast night
Enthralled with its fragrance

You vowed to carry it everywhere
To see everything in that
New light

            With this idea of attempting to capture the ineffable and wanting to hold it forever, Grubbs’ poems explore the many faces of romance whether in a first kiss or a night of lovemaking or in new sense of the found familiar:

It has taken me thirty years
To see the beauty in the plate
And in the fork
That she sets on the table
            (From What I Wanted)

            The poetics of The Palace of Flowers varies. Some poems have multiple stanzas with a number of different lines, some poems have no stanzas at all. Above all, many of the poems sound in haiku. Consider Words where he writes that “Words are thoughts/Clothed and sound/Thinking become visible. Consider also A Path: “Do not think that the footsteps/You hear means the road/You are seeking is near. It is quite appropriate, then, that Grubbs uses the sounds of haiku to explain love, flowers, romance, and ones experience of them.
            The fifty-seven poems in this collection open a wondrous world in which flowers bridge nature and the human through their many fragrances.  And at the end of the book, instead of staring into Baudelaire’s abyss, we are invited to join Grubbs on a different, a romantic journey:

And so
I found
A new way
To love


Joseph P. Tomain is Dean Emeritus and the Wilbert and Helen Ziegler Professor of Law.  His teaching interests include law and humanities. His book Creon’s Ghost: Law, Justice and the Humanities (2009 Oxford University Press) examines the relationship between law and justice by looking at classic texts such as Sophocles’ Antigone. He has also written critical essays on poetry and poets and has penned the occasional poetry review.

Sunday, February 18, 2018



The Small Door of Your Death by Sheryl St. Germain 
(Autumn House Press, Pittsburgh, 2018)

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, author, editor, translator and poet Sheryl St. Germain directs the MFA Creative Writing program at Chatham University, Pittsburgh, and is a co-founder of the Words Without Walls program. She has written extensively about the culture and environment of Louisiana and has received several awards including two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

Anyone who has read Addiction, taken from her book Let It Be a Dark Roux: New and Selected Poems (Autumn House Press) and anthologized in When She Named Fire (Autumn House Press), will know just how powerful St. Germain’s poems can be. Wild and impassioned, but superbly controlled, the close proximity of addiction and desire that she describes in this poem is like a rush of blood to the head.

Drug and alcohol addiction is a harrowing subject. Tragically, it is one that is all too present in our world today. This latest collection, which is dedicated to the memory of her son, Gray St. Germain Gideon, chronicles his struggle with addiction and death by overdose alongside the history of her family’s addictions and her own fragile recovery.

In an interview with Alison Schuette in October / November 2009, St. Germain says “if I’m confronting something really terrifying, I’ll write a poem instead of prose, and it will stay there for a long time. When I’m comfortable with it, I’ll begin to make it a story, but sometimes all I can do is write a poem.” St. Germain acknowledges that there is a dark undercurrent in her work but takes the view that there is a richness to be had in thinking about the things that have gone wrong and that this can feed the spirit.

This generous collection of 53 poems is presented in five distinct parts. A single poem, Benediction: A Suite marks the middle section which acts as a pause between her son’s death and the fourth part of the collection which deals with the immediate aftermath. It is a book that essentially looks back rather than forwards.  Yesterday is the very first word in the book. Even though it looks back over several months, the memory is raw – it is as if the events that she is describing happened yesterday.

The titles of several of the poems make references to tarot cards (Three of Swords; Nine of Swords; Ace of Swords; etc.). Tarot cards are associated with change, force, power, oppression, ambition, courage and conflict. Action can be both constructive and/or destructive, sometimes resulting in violence. Swords mirror the quality of mind present in our thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs. The swords themselves are double-edged. The negative aspects include anger, guilt, harsh judgement, a lack of compassion and verbal and mental abuse.

St. Germain uses the sword as a metaphor for the word: words that can cut to the quick. They are the words we dare not say or say when we do not mean to. The tarot cards give us this sense that everything is ordained by fate and that we are powerless to do anything about it.

Light and dark is another constant in this collection. In Feral she writes of her son:

Four months before you die,
you show up at my door
skittish, sober, not yourself,
whatever that self is,
like a dog lost too long in the woods

            all you once hoped to be
            still lights your face, though:
            it is almost a holy light

and in Rehab we are told that

………..the lights
in the rooms here, after all, are so bright.

Colour is also bound up with her son’s name:

We named you Gray because we hoped for you the thousands of hues that sing between black and white….though we knew, too, that gray’s the color of mourning, ambiguity.

In Summer Solstice, 2015 she describes him as being a person of the night and reflects that

This day, the longest of the year, you would understand as the shortest night.

Snow is another metaphor that is closely related to light but also to coldness and to the fact that it can cover up so much that we do not wish to see in our world. In Letter to My Son, Winter, St. Germain, referencing her own fragile recovery from addiction, writes:

………Today, two years sober, eyes burning with a white as cold and unforgiving as an unwritten poem, I walk into the backyard. Snow, snow and more snow. White, white, more white.

Needles are another factor that come into play. Sometimes they are pine needles, the needles of firs and spruces, needles used for stitching quilts, something to make a blanket out of balls of breathtaking yarn and at other times they are the needles that her son used to puncture …the small door of [his] death.

Returning to the interview with Alison Schuette that I referenced earlier, St. Germain says that, for her, “the heart of the poem is the metaphor….to say that something is like something else is incredibly powerful.”  She goes on to say how consoling she finds them because “like narratives, they’re ways of imposing an order on something that doesn’t have order…it’s a rich, textured way of making beauty and sense out of something that might not have beauty and sense.”

Despite its subject matter, poems such as Louisiana Oranges and At a Writer’s Retreat in France, Not Drinking and Reasons to Live: The Color Red catch sunlight in their lines with their vivid portrayal of the abundance of nature and its healing powers. Of particular note is the change of tone that becomes immediately apparent in the final part of the book. The long poem, Versions of Heaven is ecstatic in its exuberance revealing the passion for music that St. Germain shared with her son. The effect is effervescent as, high with adrenaline and wild with music, she kisses her baby on the cheek and says “one more before bath time” with its double-edged suggestion of one more dance for the child and one more glass of wine for the adult.

The format of these poems is varied. Quite a number of them are right justified as opposed to left justified. This gives the impression that some of the lines are “up against” the extreme margin of the page, lending a certain degree of intensity to what they are trying to express. Some poems are written with long-flowing lines, others use a much shorter line and some are written as prose poems depending upon what works best for each piece and the way in which it is expressed on the page. The cover art by Morgan Everhart is appropriately titled Gray. Helpful notes reference the lyrics mentioned in the text at the end.

These poems chart one woman’s colossal loss. Unflinching in their honesty, they also show her unbounded love for her family and offer consolation for anyone who has struggled with addiction or has walked through the valley of the shadow of death. These accessible poems shine with a sustained intensity that brings brightness and hope to all.


Neil Leadbeater is an author, editor, essayist, poet and critic living in Edinburgh, Scotland. His short stories, articles and poems have been published widely in anthologies and journals both at home and abroad. His books include Hoarding Conkers at Hailes Abbey (Littoral Press, 2010), Librettos for the Black Madonna (White Adder Press, 2011); The Worcester Fragments (Original Plus, 2013); The Loveliest Vein of Our Lives (Poetry Space, 2014) and Finding the River Horse (Littoral Press, 2017). His work has been translated into Dutch, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.