Joan Murray

b. 1945
Joan Murray

Joan Murray was born in New York City and lives in upstate New York. She is the author of several collections of poetry. Praising Dancing on the Edge (2002), a reviewer for The Times (London) noted, “Her simple lyric tone unteases the complexities of the images which move her.” Working in free verse, Murray is a master of the single, unforgettable detail. Her accessible, image-driven narratives harness the urgency of their moral or social context while staying true to the pacing and music of daily life.

Murray’s first collection, The Same Water (1990), was selected for the Wesleyan New Poets Series. Queen of the Mist (1999), a novel-in-verse about Annie Edson Taylor, the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, was a runner-up for the Poetry Society of America’s di Castagnola Award, and Murray later co-produced (with filmmaker Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe) a video of the same title based on her poems. Looking for the Parade (1999) was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Robert Bly.

Murray has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and Yaddo. She was poet-in-residence at the New York State Writers Institute at SUNY Albany, and has received three writer-in-residence grants from the New York State Council for the Arts. She has won a Pushcart Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Gordon Barber Award.

Murray is editor of the anthologies Pushcart Book of Poetry: The Best Poems from 30 Years of the Pushcart Prize (2007), Poems to Live By in Troubling Times (2006), and Poems to Live By in Uncertain Times (2001). Of the role poetry can play in times of challenge, Murray stated, in a 2002 Bloomsbury Review interview, “Sometimes [poetry] holds your hand to the fire—but, even so, it holds your hand.”


What People are Saying

"Even people who don't particularly enjoy most forms of poetry can still find a poem that they enjoy AND be very good at reciting if they set their minds to it. What makes poetry so appealing is its ability to describe all sorts of different aspects of the human experience in a new and unique light. There is a poem out there for everyone. Even my dad...maybe."
Danielle Corbett
2016 NH POL Champion