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Posts tagged "Mary Karr"

Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Best Anti-Commencement Speeches of 2015 (So Far)

Each year I make a hobby during graduation season (May/June) of paying attention to college commencement speeches. We’ve covered quite a few here on Mbird over the years. It’s a rhetorical phenomenon that sheds light on philosophies of the world that are either long on law or lame optimism about human potential: Look inside yourself, follow your heart, failure is just a stepping stone to future success. Oh, the places you’ll go! These are some of the many cliches that are repeated year after year. They’re also often insufferably boring.

Yet, it seems each season a glimmer of hope breaks through the the cracks from…

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The Voice of God – Mary Karr

Published last month over at Commonweal.

Ninety percent of what’s wrong with you
could be cured with a hot bath,
says God from the bowels of the subway.
but we want magic, to win
the lottery we never bought a ticket for.
(Tenderly, the monks chant, embrace
the suffering.) The voice of God does not pander,
offers no five year plan, no long-term
solution, nary an edict. It is small & fond & local.
Don’t look for your initials in the geese
honking overhead or to see thru the glass even
darkly. It says the most obvious crap—
put down that gun, you need a sandwich.

Face Down – Mary Karr

Face Down – Mary Karr

Woah. A devastating one from the new issue of The New Yorker (click here to hear her read it):

What are you doing on this side of the dark?
You chose that side, and those you left
feel your image across their sleeping lids
as a blinding atomic blast.
Last we knew,
you were suspended midair
like an angel for a pageant off the room
where your wife slept. She had
to cut you down who’d been (I heard)
so long holding you up. We all tried to,
faced with your need, which we somehow
understood and felt for and took
into our veins like smack. And you
must be lured by that old…

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Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

Another Week Ends: Negatively Positive Thinking, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, Love and Friendship, Fun Families, Facebook Sociology and Vonnegut’s Shapes of Stories

1. Think positive! The New Yorker this week pushes back against the “think I can” trend, famously espoused by Thomas the Train – and even in adult media, too. While it’s certain that confidence often sometimes helps (Seahawks defensiveback Richard Sherman self-imputed the title “best cornerback in the league” and subsequently grew into it), it tends to break down in the long run, ht TB:

According to a great deal of research, positive fantasies may lessen your chances of succeeding. In one experiment, the social psychologists Gabriele Oettingen and Doris Mayer asked eighty-three German students to rate the extent to which they “experienced positive thoughts, images,…

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Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Upending the Bird (and Sleepless Newborns)

Another humdinger from Ginger M:

On New Year’s Eve night, my husband and I hosted two other couples for dinner. In my husband’s family, it has been a New Year’s Eve tradition for all dinner guests to come with a question to ask to the table, preferably one pertaining to the previous year. “What was your most awkward verbal exchange of the past year?” proved to be quite humorous, but the question that ended our night was “What will you most miss about 2013?”. Two guests remarked, with nervous laughter, that they were going to miss the substances that they were…

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Descending Theology: The Nativity – Mary Karr

Descending Theology: The Nativity – Mary Karr

She bore no more than other women bore,
but in her belly’s globe that desert night the earth’s
full burden swayed.
Maybe she held it in her clasped hands as expecting women often do
or monks in prayer. Maybe at the womb’s first clutch
she briefly felt that star shine

as a blade point, but uttered no curses.
Then in the stable she writhed and heard
beasts stomp in their stalls,
their tails sweeping side to side
and between contractions, her skin flinched
with the thousand animal itches that plague
a standing beast’s sleep.

But in the muted womb-world with its glutinous liquid,
the child knew nothing
of its own fire. (No one ever does,…

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Short Story Wednesdays: “Winky” by George Saunders

Short Story Wednesdays: “Winky” by George Saunders

This week we slip into the mind of George Saunders, contemporary and friend to the late DFW, and colleague of Mary Karr at Syracuse University. “Winky,” a very short story, was published here in the New Yorker for you to read in full (if you are a subscriber), or you could just buy the collection of stories (highly recommended), Pastoralia.

“I’m lost!” You cried. “I’m wandering in a sort of wilderness!”

“Hey, You, come on over!” shouted a girl across the stage, labeled “Inner Peace.” “I bet you’ve been looking for me your whole life!”

“Boy, have I!” said You. “I’ll be right…

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The Unlikely Believer: How a Smart-Assed Intellectual Crossed the Secular/Religious Divide – Mary Karr

What an absolute delight and honor it was to meet and listen to the one and only Mary Karr at last week’s conference in NYC. Buckle your seat-belts indeed – just don’t leave the cake out in the rain:

You may download this recording by clicking here.

Another Week Ends: Fairness, The Life of Wiman, Motherly Love, Malick Sacraments, Karr Talks Saunders, Anderson Shoots Prada, and the Ke$ha Trump Card

Another Week Ends: Fairness, The Life of Wiman, Motherly Love, Malick Sacraments, Karr Talks Saunders, Anderson Shoots Prada, and the Ke$ha Trump Card

1) The Chronicle released a preview last month to Wiman’s newest piece of work, My Bright Abyss, which we’ve already pulled from a couple of times, here and here, and the life and the illness that spurred it. Jay Parini writes that poetry criticism and commentary began by pulling the fabric of a piece of work as closely as possible upon the tables of lived experience, but Parini also notes that contemporary criticism has become so po-mo-phobic of plainspeak that it winds up saying nothing at all. But Wiman, on the other hand, with sickness, has been voided of this…

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2013 NYC Conference Recordings: Good News That Never Gets Old

2013 NYC Conference Recordings: Good News That Never Gets Old

Another heartfelt thank-you to everyone who helped put on this year’s Mockingbird Conference in NYC, especially our friends at Calvary St. George’s Church. It’s a good thing most of the presentations below have to do with grace, as the very thought of trying to top it is incredibly scary…! Speaking of freebies, though, we are once again making the recordings available at no charge; we only ask that those who were not able to attend this year *consider* making a donation to help cover the cost of the event. Download links are followed by an in-line player for each recording….

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Descending Theology: The Resurrection by Mary Karr

Vasiliy Kandinsky's "Great Resurrection (Grosse Auferstehung)"

Vasiliy Kandinsky’s “Great Resurrection (Grosse Auferstehung)”

From the far star points of his pinned extremities,
cold inched in—black ice and squid ink—
till the hung flesh was empty. Lonely in that void
even for pain, he missed his splintered feet,
the human stare buried in his face.
He ached for two hands made of meat
he could reach to the end of.
In the corpse’s core, the stone fist of his heart

began to bang on the stiff chest’s door,
and breath spilled back into that battered shape. Now
it’s your limbs he long to flow into–
from the sunflower center in your chest
outward–as warm water
shatters at birth, rivering every way.

 

Originally published in Poetry, January 2006, the revised version above was collected in Sinners Welcome: Poems.

Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Mary Karr, Mini-Lives, and News From Across the (Human/Robot Divide)

Reading Mary Karr’s fantastic memoir Lit, one quote in particular stuck out to me as beautifully describing a tendency we humans have to fall into more limited emotional ranges:

…anything worth doing could be undertaken later. Paint the apartment, write a book, quit booze, sure: tomorrow. Which ensures that life gets lived in miniature. In lieu of the large feelings – sorrow, fury, joy – I had their junior counterparts – anxiety, irritation, excitement.

I don’t want to read into Karr’s emotional experiences, but for me this passage elucidates the emotional life lived in times when the Law, or demand to achieve, is…

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