Me & Coyote by Abby E. Murray

When I ordered Abby E. Murray‘s new chapbook, “Me & Coyote,” I initially forgot that it came as part of the Lost Horse Press New Poets Series, the fourth in a series of book-length collections made up of three chapbooks by three different authors. The other two poets in this book, Jesse Fourmy and Karen Holman — also fellow students from the Pacific University MFA program — are both poets of distinctive voice and character. Their work deserves its own attention and careful reading.

But tonight I want to write about Abby’s poetry, because reading Abby Murray makes me want to be a better poet. By “better” I mean more wild, fierce, and free. Life can drive you crazy, if you let it. Health problems in the family and pressures at work have been leading me up to the brink. How refreshing, then, to read poems that regularly swan-dive off the edge, with such panache.

A poem like “Barnacle’s Son” convinces me, completely, that even if a man can’t be born from a rough sea creature, it ought to be possible. And within the language of the poem, it is. Equally convincing is the poem “How I Love You,” whose lines taper down and down, constricting on the final phrase, in all its tough rightness: “I love you more than / an iron fence / loves her / house.” And when “They Took Her Away in a Birdcage,” my face wanted to smile and frown all at once.

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Cloudbank Precipitates Great Poetry

“How open to suggestion / they have always been, carrying nothing // with them of the past, content to leave almost / everything behind…”

-Christopher Buckley, “New Clouds”

Cloudbank Issue 1I received a complimentary copy of the premiere issue of Cloudbank today. The journal is co-edited by Peter Sears, core faculty in the Pacific Unviersity MFA program, and the index reads like a roll-call of some of that program’s most talented writers: Arthur Ginsberg helps us see behind sight, Ron Bloodworth takes us into meditative country, Marianne Klekacz makes a Christmas-morning discovery of flight, Jennifer Whetham extols the sensuous mushroom, Beth Russell defends the curious appetites of the female praying mantis, and Abby Murray brings a glimmer of hard-earned compassion to a dog-eat-dog world. More than this, new poems by Christopher Buckley, Carolyn Miller, Margaret McGovern, and a host of other wonderful poets — some from the Pacific Northwest, others not — round out this impressive debut. A publication of Cloudbank Books in Corvalis, Oregon, Cloudbank the journal is accepting submissions for its second issue, including offering a $200 prize for one outstanding poem. Details for submitting poems, and ordering a copy of their excellent first issue, are available on the Cloudbank website.