When junior Taryn Murphy began feverishly scribbling poems in the margins of her class notes on her homework assignment and sending them in texts to her friends, she never imagined that she would one day publish a book of poetry.
In a culmination of two years’ work, Murphy self-published the first edition of her poem collection “Hello My Name Is Sentimental” on Wednesday, Sept. 11, through Amazon’s self-publication service.
The book, which Murphy called “a reflection on the divinity in the world around her,” is available for purchase on Amazon.
Comprised of five sections of blank-verse poetry, the book begins with the section called “Wonder,” then moves into “Love,” “Wrestle,” “Wither,” and “Waken,” tracing the Christian narrative of salvation.
“I wanted my poetry to be brutally honest, but arranged in a way where the sad and broken and lamenting poetry wouldn’t overshadow the joy of the book,” Murphy said. “As humans we feel extreme joy and extreme pain, but they coexist, so I wanted to couch them all together and leave the reader feeling a new sense of hope.”
For Murphy, the gradual introduction to poetical sensibilities changed her view of poetry. Murphy picked up her pen for the first time upon arriving at Hillsdale as a freshman, and said at first her poetry was a form of emotional release.
But over time, Murphy’s perception of the artistic process transformed.
“This summer, it hit me. I was having a great summer, and I wasn’t writing poetry,” Murphy said. “That’s when I realized it was a form of catharsis, but I also needed to step out of that catharsis, and use poetry as another dimension to express my joy.”
This became the theme of Murphy’s entire collection, that poetry is everywhere and in everything.
Last semester, Murphy approached one of her closest friends, senior and art major Caroline Hennekes, with her initial idea to publish a book of her own poetry.
Hennekes walked Murphy’s poetic journey with her from the beginning and designed the cover art for the book.
Hennekes recalled receiving spontaneous poems via text from Murphy throughout the day, concerning small incidents, encounters, and images she found beauty in that day.
Because of their close friendship, Hennekes said she “felt the pressure,” to ensure her cover art encapsulated both Murphy as a person and Murphy’s art. Hennekes settled on a simple, hand-drawn honeycomb for the cover of the book.
“It shows this sweet tone of ordinary things, but how beautiful they can be,” Hennekes said.
The cover art also hints at one of Murphy’s favorite images in the collection: Honey bees. Throughout the book, the honey bee pops up frequently, symbolizing the pursuit and attainment of peace, as in one unnamed poem from the fifth section of the book, Murphy’s favorite of the collection.
“watch the hairy honey bee/poised, dusty on the stamen/nodding her head into the lily’s bosom./sh. there. hear it?/she is singing for you,” Murphy writes.
According to Murphy, the self-publication process is fairly simple. After investigating on her own, Murphy happened to discover a copy of 2018 alumna Tori Hope Peterson’s self-published poetry collection, “Secret Servants,” on display at Rough Draft.
Peterson had self-published her book, and Murphy contacted her to seek advice.
“I think putting your art out there when it has been denied multiple times is hard,” Peterson said. You’re not sure how successful it will be. But I told her that doesn’t matter. If you self-publish, it will reach the people that it needs to reach. It is kind of how God speaks to us. When you hear a sermon, you won’t interpret it how I interpret it. I told her to publish, and people would interpret it how they need to interpret it.”
“Hello My Name Is Sentimental” is not meant to be the culmination of Murphy’s career in poetry, she said. Rather, she hopes it will springboard her into a career of poetry, travel, and speaking about beauty’s integral role in the human life.