Search Results for: "mary karr"


Rerun of a poem from House of Words and Mary Karrs birthday featured today on the rehabilitated Writer’s Almanac.

The Writer’s Almanac for Saturday, January 16, 2021

‘I am the rod to their lightning.’

In the December 2012 issue of Poetry Magazine, Mary Karr takes a crack at writing a poem in the voice of Our Lady.

Denny’s Revisited

Down the page a bit, I posed the following to guest blogger Cubeland Mystic:

“If Mary Karr showed up at your cave in sack cloth and ashes and asking for a word, what would you say to her?”

To which the Mystic replied:

“In the cave absolutely nothing. The cave ain’t for talking. The cave is for listening. In the Denny’s, I would encourage her to user her fiction writing talents to bring hope to people.”

In the Denny’s, yes!

Then, on my way to work this morning, I heard a story about a guy, possibly a friend of JOB’s, who walked into a Denny’s in Madison on Fat Tuesday and cooked himself up a burger.

But the story within the story is about writing:

DeSpain, a public information officer for the department — and former CBS affiliate employee — writes up many of the most important police reports each day. Sometimes, he said, he can’t help but stray from the often tame and boring narrative style of police reports.

“This one kind of wrote itself,” he told The Huffington Post. “Most days I’m knee-deep in stuff that’s not so humorous. But occasionally we’ll get one like this.

So my question is: What would you say to this guy — in Denny’s — Cubeland Mystic?


Betty Duffy has a good article here called Filter!.

“There is so much information online, that if writers don’t filter their own words, then readers will. And readers can be much less forgiving.”

This sort of ties into the discussion about Mary Karr. If I published a best selling book. I would not give interviews, or do book tours.

“So hopefully I’ve written about faith in a way that should speak to nonbelievers.”

The title above is a quote from the Mary Karr post Matthew did last year, and there is a discussion going on in the Footnotes post comments about her.

So what does it mean to write about faith in a way that speaks to nonbelievers? I haven’t read her work, but that quote caused a set of filters to go off in my head.  I am suspicious. She seems to be good discussion fodder right now so maybe she deserves her own post.

“I mean, it’s a very lonely culture.”

Writer Mary Karr discusses her conversion to Catholicism with the local NPR station!

“The reviewers have said, you know, I don’t believe in God, but now I understand in a way how somebody could. And I think that was my goal, to sort of explain to people. And in some way, I think I’m better suited than most people because I had no religious beliefs my entire life. I wasn’t baptized, I wasn’t brought up in any faith. And so in some ways, my life long lack of belief, I think, makes me a good describer of how faith comes to those — to the disbelieving.

“So when I was baptized, my friend Richard Ford – you know, the great novelist – sent me a postcard that said, not you on the pope’s team. Say it ain’t so. But then Ford wound up sending me a fan letter. He said, ‘I was really gunning for you, Karr, on this one. But you pulled it out.’ So hopefully I’ve written about faith in a way that should speak to nonbelievers.

“I really want to — I’m not trying to convert anybody, but I would like us all to be able to sit in the same room with one another. On my website, which is, you know, Mary Karr Lit Up on Facebook, I love seeing people who are often fundamentalist Christians or very strict Catholics or Jewish or with new age people, with people who are complete pagans, all sort of come together and talk about — share their hopes and fears. You upon, that’s to me what faith is about, is being able to stand together as human beings and not want to blow each other up with machine guns, which is what I want to do most days on the subway.”

Another K Kind of Day

Today is the first day of kindergarten for my eldest daughter, Tink McCain. After dropping her off, I turned to confront my own first day back at work after a two-month summer holiday. I sat at my desk awhile, scribbled down a list of things I need to get done today, then ventured over to the shelves in my office and absentmindedly pulled down Mary Karr’s book of poems, Sinners Welcome. By sheer accident, I cracked it open right to this most apropos poem:

Revelations in the Key of K
by Mary Karr

I came awake in kindergarten,
under the letter K chalked neat
on a field-green placard leaned

on the blackboard’s top edge. They’d caged me
in a metal desk–the dull word writ
to show K’s sound. But K meant kick and kill

when a boy I’d kissed drew me
as a whiskered troll in art. On my sheet,
the puffy clouds I made to keep rain in

let torrents dagger loose. “Screw those
who color in the lines,” my mom had preached,
words I shared that landed me on a short chair

facing the corner’s empty, sheetrock page. Craning up,
I found my K high above.
You’ll have to grow to here, its silence said.

And in the surrounding alphabet, my whole life hid–
names of my beloveds, sacred vows I’d break.
With my pencil stub applied to wall,

I moved around the loops and vectors,
Z to A, learning how to mean, how
in the mean world to be.

But while I worked the room around me
began to smudge–like a charcoal sketch my mom
was rubbing with her thumb. Then

the instant went, the month, and every season
smeared, till with a wrenching arm tug
I was here, grown, but still bent

to set down words before the black eraser
swipes our moment into cloud, dispersing all
to zip. And when I blunder in the valley

of the shadow of blank about to break
in half, my being leans against my spinal K,
which props me up, broomstick straight,

a strong bone in the crypt of meat I am.


Sinners Welcome…

…is the title of the latest collection from Mary Karr, celebrated poet and memoirist and professor at Syracuse University (30 minutes north of the hometown), who appeared on Fresh Air a couple of days back and discussed her decision to enter the Catholic Church. A good listen.