Whenever we think of poetry within our local community, a profoundly impactive and resounding voice comes to mind as he often enjoys sharing his original works at locally held open mics. As a strong supporter of Revolve One podcast and fellow creatives near and far, Tom Murphy continues to make waves as an author, outspoken poet, and as a founding member of the People’s Poetry Festival. In addition, Tom is the Professional Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. It is apparent through his influential academic role and unwavering support of the writing community that he is eager to share his passion for literature and writing, especially poetry.
From the first time he picked up and read the novel, “Tattoo the Wicked Cross”, by Floyd Salas as an inquiring sixth-grader, Thomas “Tom” Murphy has been on his own writing journey in which self-discovery is inevitable. Despite challenges of everyday life and at times feeling discouraged, Tom remains an avid writer and fearlessly sharing poet. His published books include “Pearl”, “American History”, and co-edited “Stone Renga” along with his writing being featured in numerous other local publications as well as forthcoming works.
Upon discussing the inherent need for a more active, connected writing community with a friend and writing peer, Alan Berecka, the collaboration between Texas A&M Corpus Christi and Del Mar College was forged and the People’s Poetry Festival was established. Since its inception, the People’s Poetry Festival has been held annually and has grown and evolved with more panels including featured poets, the Robb Jackson Award for aspiring student writers, and a designated Open Mic that allows others to share.
What has remained consistent throughout the years is that the festival has always been “very inclusive” as people of all different writing styles, professions, beliefs, race, religion, and sexuality are encouraged to join. Space is always given for each presenting poet to have their voice heard. This open and accepting environment is what engenders such a positive impact within our local creative community. This is how we strengthen the bonds of the Coastal Bend and surrounding areas so much so that it continues to resonate beyond our local South Texas community. The message of poetry can be written as hushed words on a page although it is best received when shared aloud.
When asked if writing poetry and performing spoken word remains relevant in our fast-paced, predominantly technological world, Tom declares with the utmost certainty—”YES!” In fact, he even acknowledges the recent inaugural performance of Amanda Gorman, who helped welcome our newly elected President and Vice President with her remarkably moving poem, “The Hill We Climb”. Indeed, it is evident the awe-inspiring performance of the first-ever U.S. Youth Poet Laureate showcases just how timeless and incredibly relevant poetry remains to this day.
Poetry is meant to be enjoyed by all ages as it is threaded through a diverse multitude of people from all walks of life. With utmost certainty, Tom Murphy and our own Crystal Garcia would both agree with the late Audre Lorde that, “ Poetry is not a luxury.” For most writers, it is a not steady income, acceptance into publications, or prominent accolades that motivate them. Rather, it is the passion for their craft that innately drives writers and the cathartic process of writing itself that helps to keep them from losing their sense of self and stability.
So if you are a writer who feels like giving up on continuing your craft, Tom’s steadfast advice is no matter what: “Keep writing.” It is that deep-rooted determination that Tom perpetually exudes which inspires so many to persist with their creative endeavors. Despite the role of a poet being daunting at times, Tom Murphy is always one of the first among the crowd to sign up to share as he continues to lead by example.
This year due to the ongoing pandemic, the People’s Poetry Festival will be hosted online to ensure the safety of participants and viewers alike. Despite the festival being held virtually, Tom, along with the entire People’s Poetry Festival Committee, “hope to bring more poets and attendees who previously were unable to attend.” All things considered, we are beyond excited to be a part of the, first of its kind, virtual People’s Poetry Festival and encourage writers near and far to join us February 25-27 to immerse ourselves in a wonderful poetic experience. For more information on how to join us for this sensational online event, you can visit www.peoplespoetryfest.com. Additionally, Tom Murphy’s works accompanied by anthologies of fellow poets are available to purchase through the People’s Poetry Festival website previously mentioned. His most recent book, “Pearl”, is also available on the Flowersong Press website and his works can also be found on Amazon.