Monday, August 9, 2010

Sinners Welcome

I first became interested in Mary Karr when my Jewish-atheist sister-in-law gave me her book of poems Sinners Welcome for Christmas a couple of years ago. The essay linked to below, "Facing Altars," is included in the book. This is the title poem:

I opened up my shirt to show this man
the flaming heart he lit in me, and I was scooped up
like a lamb and carried to the dim warm.
I who should have been kneeling
was knelt to by one whose face
should be emblazoned on every coin and diadem:

no bare-chested boy, but Ulysses,
with arms thick from the hard-hauled ropes.
He'd sailed past the clay gods
and the singing girls who might have made of him

a swine. That the world could arrive at me
with him in it, after so much longing—
impossible. He enters me and joy
sprouts from us as from a split seed.


Janet said...

I'm posting here because it's the most recent entry, not because I'm commenting on this poem. (I do love this poem, btw.)

I have read all three memoirs and I have to say that it helped enormously that I read them in order. Liars Club is the best written, but you get so drawn into her story that you don't mind that the writing in the others isn't quite as good.

When you've read about her early life, you understand the crudeness in the way she talks now. I don't think it's done for effect at all; I think it's just the way she heard people talk from the time she was born.

So, if you are having any thoughts about reading LC first, since several of you don't seem to be able to find and since Liars Club would certainly be in libraries, you might want to reconsider. Also, when you reach the part about how God worked in her life in the latter part of Lit, it is so much more powerful when you know her background.


Pentimento said...

Thanks for commenting, Janet. Betty Duffy is reading LC now. I started with Lit, but came to it from her poetry; in fact, I posted a poem of hers as one of the very first entries in this blog, three years ago. It was about reading Isaac Babel to console oneself in heartbreak, and I loved it.

I haven't read LC but it's going on my list right now.