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Monday, 13 April 2015

The poet’s eloquently passionate struggle at the junction of doubt and devotion

Mary Karr says, "From a very early age, when I read a poem, it was as if the poet's burning taper touched some charred filament in my rib cage to set me alight."

"My idea of art is, you write something that makes people feel so strongly that they get some conviction about who they want to be or what they want to do. It’s morally useful not in a political way, but it makes your heart bigger; it’s emotionally and spiritually empowering.”

Like her prose, Karr’s poetry treats events from her past. Sinners Welcome, like the memoir Lit, includes meditative poems on Karr’s recovery from alcoholism and her new found, perhaps surprising, sense of faith. Reviewing the collection for the New York Times, David Kirby found in Karr a careful, tough religious poet: “Images rather than wishful abstractions abound,” Kirby noted. “So much trickery has been got up to in religion's name that it's natural to get nervous when a writer starts talking about salvation, but Karr never tries to substitute faith for sound poetic practices. If anything, by adding prayer, she just makes the poems that much stronger.”

"Like poetry, prayer often begins in torment, until the intensity of language forges a shape worthy of both labels: “true” and “beautiful.” (Only in my deepest prayers does language evaporate, and a wide and wordless silence takes over.)"

“Fans of the smart-mouthed hell-raiser need not fear. Karr brings the same unstinting truth-telling sensibility to her spiritual concerns as she has to her earthly struggles.” — Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer on Sinners Welcome

"Theology takes on a kind of earthy insight… As Karr knows, her endeavor is ages old. It may be that all lyric poetry aspires to prayer. What gives Sinners Welcome its sharp edge is the poet’s eloquently passionate struggle at the junction of doubt and devotion.”
— Judith Kitchen, Washington Post

"'I was not separated from people, grief and pity joined us.
We forget—I kept saying—that we are all children of the King.'

That’s why I pray and poetize: to be able to see my brothers and sisters despite my own (often petty) agonies, to partake of the majesty that’s every Judas’s birthright."

See: Descending Theology: Christ Human, Descending Theology: The Garden and Descending Theology: The Resurrection.


Rosanne Cash - Sister O Sister.

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