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Presentation of Castle Gate mining disaster poem slated

On Nov. 13, at 7:30 pm, the public is invited to hear four local readers present a dramatic rendition of Miriam Murphy's poem "Keenings on an Intermezzo of Time," a poem Miriam wrote about the men who lost their lives in the 1924 Castle Gate Mining Disaster.

The reading will take place at Templeton Studios in Spring Glen (3272 N. 2000 W.) Karen Jobe Templeton will also unveil her portrait sculpture of Miriam that evening.

Miriam B. Murphy, a Salt Lake native, born in 1933, wrote the poem several years ago when she worked at the Utah State Historical Society and discovered a large archive available on the Castle Gate mining tragedy, one of the worst in coal mining history, where 172 men lost their lives.

Saddened by the detailed accounts of the miners' widows, recorded by a social worker hired by the state, Miriam began to envision a narrative poem incorporating many of their stories, along with a listing of those who died in the terrible event.

"I could never have written the poem without this archive and the emotional immediacy recorded therein," she said.

Since then, the 15 page poem has been anthologized in A Great and Peculiar Beauty, a collection of Utah poets and in The Green Light that Linger, a book of poetry by Miriam published by City Art Press in Salt Lake in 1999. The poem has also been performed by many groups around the state because it touches those who have lost miners in their families, or who have a relationship to miners still working in the mines.

Miriam lives in Salt Lake City and will be present at the event. Miriam is surprised that there is this celebration in her honor. However, she is not surprised that the people of Carbon County are doing it. She has a special connection to Carbon County, as through her job, she visited many of Price's historical areas, and since has made several friends in Price.

Miriam completed her B.A. degree in English in 1956. She was editor of the Daily Utah Chronicle in her senior year. She worked in advertising in Salt Lake, New York, and San Francisco. She married William Hunt Murphy in SF, and they had one son, Bill. Later divorced, Miriam returned to Salt Lake with her son and felt very lucky to find editorial work with the Utah State Historical Society.

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