“What gives Sinners Welcome its sharp edge is the poet’s eloquently passionate struggle at the junction of doubt and devotion.” Washington Post
From Mary Karr, the prize-winning and New York Times bestselling author of The Liars’ Club, Cherry and Lit, comes Sinners Welcome, her fourth collection of poetry that traces her improbable journey from a tormented childhood into a resolutely irreverent Catholicism.
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About the Author
Mary Karr is the author of three award-winning, bestselling memoirs: The Liars’ Club, Cherry, and Lit, as well as The Art of Memoir, also a New York Times bestseller. She received Guggenheim and Radcliffe Fellowships for poetry and is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.
Read an Excerpt
By Mary Karr
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Mary Karr
All right reserved.
When it became impossible to speak to you
due to your having died and been incinerated,
I sometimes held the uncradled phone
with its neat digits and arcane symbols (crosshatch,
black star) as if embedded in it
were some code I could punch in
to reach you. You bequeathed me
this morbid bent, Mother.
Who gives her sixth-grade daughter
Sartre's Nausea to read? All my life,
I watched you face the void,
leaning into it as a child with a black balloon
will bury her countenance
either to hide from
or to merge with that darkness.
Small wonder that still
in the invisible scrim of air
that delineates our separate worlds,
your features sometimes press toward me
all silvery from the afterlife, woven in wind,
to whisper a caution. Or your hand on my back
shoves me into my life.
Excerpted from Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr Copyright ©2006 by Mary Karr. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
If the neon cross on the cover and the title hadn¿t forewarned me the latest book of poems by the author of The Liar¿s Club and Cherry, the large amount of traditional Christian religious imagery and subject matter would have come as bit of a surprise. Her memoirs of growing up in East Texas contain few references to religion and only a passing allusion to infrequent church visits with neighbors and a fight with girl who accused her (accurately) of saying that the pope dressed like a girl. Other than that there¿s her flat statement on page 44 of The Liar¿s Club, ¿We didn¿t go to church.¿ So reading Sinners Welcome reminded me of the bits on Monty Python when John Cleese intones, ¿And now for something completely different.¿ If you are like me, you might want to start at the back of the book with the essay ¿Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer,¿ which tells of her 1996 conversion, ¿after a lifetime of undiluted agnosticism.¿ The poems themselves are clear, as befits a poet that proclaimed herself, ¿Against Decoration,¿ but certainly not without vivid images and language. And although religious, they are certainly not pious, as witnessed by titles like, ¿Hypertrophied Football Star as Serial Killer,¿ ¿Hurt Hospital¿s Best Suicide Jokes,¿ and ¿At the Sound of the Gunshot, Leave a Message.¿
Honest and compelling, each poem captures both the painful reality of a given moment in Karr's life and frequently the spiritual insight that ultimately flowed from it. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who likes confessional poetry. it is exceptional.
Not a big fan of poetry but how can you not love karr.
A very enjoyable volume. Loved her style.