The curious title of Patricia Murphy’s wonderfully disturbing Hemming Flames doesn’t become clear to us until the last poem in the book. . . . As if the act of writing itself is an attempt to hem what can’t easily be hemmed.

—from the foreword by Stephen Dunn, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

These are searing reports from the far side of the human dimension, acts of pure familial survival—charged, compelling, complex. We read searching with the speaker for an answer to the singular question one poem poses, ‘Where are you, gravity?’ These are hard-felt, intimate, and genuine.

— Alberto Ríos, poet laureate of Arizona and Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets

This book isn’t trying to make you feel better—a mother’s many suicide attempts, violence, extreme insecurity—this book is devastating. And it is exactly Murphy’s refusal of the blithe, and her refusal to move or look away from agony, that might make our world less of a disaster.

—Sarah Vap, author of Viability, winner of the National Poetry Series

Here are lunatics and misanthropes and the obese. Here are rueful promises and faulty redemptions and conditional love. The pyre of a family. Out of the ashes rises not a phoenix, but a collection of gems–each poem so exquisitely rendered, so gorgeous, and yet each never quite cathartic enough. One reads them not until it hurts but with the hope that the hurt will somehow, at some point, dissipate. Dear Reader, the poet/speaker seems to caution, there will be no relief. Now deal with it.

—Mark Yakich, author of Poetry: A Survivor’s Guide

More reviews of Hemming Flames

ArcadiaDante Di Stefano

Hayden’s Ferry ReviewCL Black

Book Review | Rochelle Jewel Shapiro

Bellevue Literary Review | Kate Falvey

The Rumpus | Sarah Pape

Book Review | Monica Aissa Martinez

Bellingham Review  | Dayna Patterson

Cleaver Magazine | Claire Oleson

Jet Fuel Review | R.E. Steele

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