New-to-me, Mary Karr

Getting to know any new art is like starting to walk down an immensely long corridor with hundreds of doors, each with the name of a different star of that art. So many names. How could we ever find them out? I feel ignorant.

I kindof peek in some doors, look at expert websites – again, this telephone dictionary list of folks I should know about.

Then I find one I like. Really like. I walk deeply into their room and find other doors to other artists. I peek through, see some I like. Go into one room, find myself back in the corridor again. And then begin to understand that the corridor isn’t straight but curves and bends, and these separate lives are in a conversation, they’re friends or enemies. And I get to cough politely and join in.

And so yesterday, I met Mary Karr, a random choice from a very long list of lunch poems, reading from her latest book of poems.

Screen shot 2016-06-27 at 16.14.11

Picture: still from University of California TV

An enormously honest, feisty woman, her interview (which I read today) in the Paris Review is straightforward eyeboggling. And her words are so choice. Even saying that she wrote something which sucked, she expressed it as “duller than a rubber knife”.


I read of her faith story in Poetry magazine. Online here at:

which has got her gut-wrenching gutsy beautiful way of talking. Some sentences are small poems. She writes of spiritual feelings and connections and somehow it’s understandable. There is mystery but no esoteric mystic cloudiness of unknowing. I wonder at her insight that poetry and prayer are so alike, and that at times when it is too painful to make a usual prayer, reading tough poems helps. And, for a poet, her deepest prayers, she says, are silent.


One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s