Catching Up with Matthew Murrey

Where can we read some of your recent work? 

In a first for me, I had some poems published on New Year’s Day; that was at Escape Into Lifehttps://www.escapeintolife.com/poetry/matthew-murrey-new-poems/. For me the most thrilling update since appearing in Tinderbox was finding a home for my first book of poetry – Bulletproof [http://jacarpress.com/bulletproof/] – which won the 2018 Full Length Poetry Competition with Jacar Press and was published in February of 2019. I also have a web site where folks can check in on my writing: https://www.matthewmurrey.net/

What are you reading right now? 

I’m from Florida and have finally found a history of Florida that is well written, honest, and absolutely essential: Finding Florida by T.D. Allman. Though not part of the “People’s History of…” Zinn-inspired history books, it is like them in exposing the underside of US history while celebrating true acts of justice and resistance. I’m a high school librarian and recently read The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. It’s a great, quick read about two teens and a crime that involves race, class, and transgender issues. In poetry, I lately enjoyed Matthew Guenette’s Vasectomania which has a sly, gritty, and humorous angle on trying to have a life while being a busy, involved husband and father. I also very much liked Athena Kildegaard’s Course – which has so many fine poems on love and death – the passing of her mother being the center of gravity in the book.

What’s next for you? 

My latest big project is that I’m sending out a second book manuscript that strangely – in this age of climate crisis, racist hate, and rising authoritarianism – embraces joy! It seemed like a good way to push back against these awful times. I hope it doesn’t take as long to publish my second book as it did my first – about 25 years. That prospect puts a bit of a damper on the whole joy thing!

In the day to day writing life, I’m finding that trying to respond to events in the news and also to works of art – think Rattle’s “Poets Respond” and “Ekphrastic Challenge” – has been a fruitful push to create new and different poems. Other than that I’m always looking for opportunities to read/perform my poetry which I love to do – having a book out has helped with that. 


Matthew Murrey’s poems have appeared in journals such as Prairie Schooner, Poetry East, and Notre Dame Review.  His debut collection, Bulletproof, selected by Marilyn Nelson, was published in February 2019 by Jacar Press.  Murrey is a high school librarian in Urbana, IL. Visit him at https://www.matthewmurrey.net/

Matthew’s poem, “Coyotes” appeared in issue 2:1 of Tinderbox.