Introducing my poetry collection “Kinds of Blue”

Sean Murphy
4 min readApr 4, 2024


I am delighted to share that my third poetry collection, Kinds of Blue, is now available!

Why Did I Write This Book?
My work is as political as ever, but I seldom write anymore about politicians, or the machinations of our ever-devolving sociopolitical discourse. But as a lifelong music fanatic, cultural critic, and advocate for the promotion of awareness and empathy by any means necessary, I’ve found channeling this energy into poetry challenging and rewarding. Like my previous two collections, Kinds of Blue looks at American history through the lens of geniuses (celebrated ones like James Brown and Miles Davis and unjustly obscure ones like Albert Ayler and Orrin Keepnews). This collection attempts to both celebrate and interrogate in ways that only poetry can.

How Can You Help and Support?

  • Share it on social media: I’d love you to help me spread the word via your social channels
  • Tell your friends about it: Good old fashioned–and old school–word of mouth works too!
  • Write a review: All reviews are not only helpful, but critical for discoverability in an ever-crowded market. A few sentences will suffice, so I encourage all of you to consider leaving a review (it’s easy!). And if you don’t want to write anything, you can still leave a starred review — those count, too!

About The Book

Kinds of Blue is the third installment of a large and ongoing project that explores America and its mythology through a series of poems that function as biography, history, and cultural commentary. This collection, like the others before it, honors a number of icons (some well-known; others unfairly neglected), seeking to capture something essential about their lives and the times they lived in, bearing witness while paying homage.

Kinds of Blue carves out a designated space to celebrate black artistry, tracing an at times uneasy but undeniable line stretching from field hollers and the blues, to jazz, funk and beyond. Tributes to misunderstood or mistreated icons include musicians such as Thelonious Monk and Marvin Gaye, fighters like Joe Frazier and Marvin Hagler, and comedians like Richard Pryor and John Belushi. Despite every systemic disadvantage and all the obstacles placed in their paths, these geniuses — and others featured in this book — lived, played, persevered, and became immortal. America is still very much a work in progress, but any country that can claim such inspired forces of nature is worth preserving and celebrating.

Advance Praise

A transformative journey that not only unveils new dimensions to familiar tunes but beckons you to venture into uncharted musical realms.

Nabil Ayers, Author of My Life in the Sunshine

With Kinds of Blue, Sean Murphy has created a deep personal and spiritual meditation on the personalities, stories, and souls that created some of the most important music (plus comedy, film and more) of the 20th century. More than a book ‘about’ these other art forms, Kinds of Blue gives voice to ineffable and transcendent qualities of the art using the medium of poetry.

— Jon Madof, bandleader, composer, and co-founder of Chant Records

“It’s not worth singing about if it doesn’t leave a scar,” the speaker in Sean Murphy’s Kinds of Blue says — and these poems are about song and scar, even as they sing and heal along the hurt-lines. Murphy muses about what drives us to art, what hinders art’s making, what sacrifices art demands, what makes art, and the artist, endure. “It never hurts if you write an anthem,” the speaker says, though the book is filled with artists who hurt, even to the point of self-harm and death. The poems here confront an “America waking up/ slowly, from the old school/ slumber of the whitest world,” and comes to a reckoning: “again it was down to artists/ to guide us through.” Kinds of Blue is a wise, startling, beautiful guide.

— James Allen Hall, Author of Romantic Comedy

Late in Kinds of Blue, his third poetry book, Sean Murphy asks: What is this? How is it possible to make instruments scream in agony and shriek in joy, at the same time? Yet, these powerful poems do just that with lines crafted from the alchemical tip of his historical pen. Conjuring legendary artists such as Miles Davis and Sam Cooke, as well as lesser-known geniuses, Eric Dolphy and Linton Kwesi Johnson, this collection offers the reader necessary pages from our troubled past so [we] might bear witness to an anguished joyful noise that could save and restore. Dear Reader, this book is full of poems you will want to research and then read out loud again, while you trust that hearing is believing. As poetry continually reminds us, we need our collective notes to more fully understand ourselves, our country, our predecessors, in all the potent ways. Even still they sang — coded texts for torn out tongues, the savage air aglow with conviction. I’ve read these poems again and again, then pulled my old albums out; here where poetry and music become one.

— Susan Rich, Author of Blue Atlas



Sean Murphy

Executive Director, 1455, @1455LitArts. Avoiding quiet desperation by any means necessary