The George D. Murphy Award in Creative Writing honors a longtime faculty member in the English department (see below). The winner is chosen each year by a panel of Villanova faculty and a Philadelphia-area writer.
The award for 2019 goes to Margaret (Meg) Carter. Meg Carter is a senior English and Spanish double major. After graduating, she will be moving to Galicia, Spain to teach English as a Fulbright grantee.
Early Spring in Cádiz, Spain
Laura and I sit on the balcony,
soaking in the warmth, our shirts pulled up,
so our pale stomachs are like two full moons
absorbing and reflecting the afternoon sun.
We had eaten chipirones for lunch
and I made eye contact with each little
fried squid before pinching the head
and extracting what my host-parents called
el esqueleto which was flimsy and iridescent,
like a soap bubble, or a soul.
Laura had ripped out los esqueletos fiercely,
like striking a match, and was stopped mid swipe
when her mom said that yes, the pain near her armpit
when she lifted the folded linens into the closet
had been something,
and she might lose her hair.
And now, on the balcony, Laura,
my fourteen-year-old host-sister,
who knew she was bisexual but was unclear
about what the word “cancer” meant,
rolls a cigarette, lights it, and watches
the curling ribbon of smoke drift upwards like a balloon.
We listen to fragments of conversations
from the street, and Laura’s cigarette sizzles
as she inhales, and in her exhale, looks at me and says,
“Es que la vida es dura.”
George D. Murphy received his B.A. (1949) and M.A. (1951) in English from the University of Notre Dame and his Ph.D. in American Civilization from the University of Pennsylvania in 1964. He joined Villanova’s English Department in 1954 and retired in 2000 after 46 years of service. His scholarly publications focused on American writers of the 20th Century. While at Villanova, he was known for his exquisite sense of humor and a singular gift for recalling and recounting a host of humorous tales. While an undergraduate at Notre Dame, he was on the editorial board of its literary magazine—The Juggler of Notre Dame—and contributed a number of poems, short stories, and critical essays. He returned to creative writing at the end of his life as a way of coping with grief over his wife’s death and produced many first-rate poems.