Posts tagged "Mary Karr"
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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Baby, You Can Drive My Karr: Conversion and the Poetry of Mary Karr (A Breakout Session)

Baby, You Can Drive My Karr: Conversion and the Poetry of Mary Karr (A Breakout Session)

Some of us have believed since we awoke into sentience. Others of us started out with our confidence invested elsewhere and only later were (or have yet to be) won over to the faith. Maybe because I am of the latter group, I think that, in a volleyball game, the johnny-come-latelies would crush the goody two-shoes. In any case, whether it’s fiction, nonfiction, or poetry (“the supreme fiction” – Wallace Stevens), writers write from their vision, their worldview. And when a writer’s worldview undergoes a revolution or conversion, it shows in the writing. This session on the poetry of Mary…

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Eliot’s Vaccine and The First Snapped Shoelace (According to Mary Karr)

Eliot’s Vaccine and The First Snapped Shoelace (According to Mary Karr)

The final paragraphs of Mary Karr’s introduction to the Modern Library paperback edition of T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land” are too stunning not to reproduce here, especially in anticipation of a conference where Mary will be speaking and Eliot’s plays will be explored:

But why read something so darkly despairing? And repeatedly? I mentioned its beauty before. But the poem acts for me as a sort of vaccine against the horror it describes by injecting a nonlethal dose of it. One can’t get the same immunity by abstractly, willfully constructing a theory about the world and one’s place in it. Theories…

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The Best NYC Conference Update Ever (Pre-Register Today!)

MbirdConfFinal1

A couple of very cool new details to report: First and most importantly, we can confirm that our co-headliner this year will be none other than award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist Mary Karr! This is a huge honor for Mockingbird, and we could not be more excited. If somehow you’ve missed the many posts we’ve done on Mary’s work, you can catch up here. Her official bio contains more than its fair share of colorful soundbites, the bit about 2009′s Lit (mandatory reading for those coming to the conference) being a particular highlight:

Lit chronicles Karr’s brazen battle into adulthood, taking readers on a journey into awe while tracing her search for the solid family she never had. On the way, she falls into the thrall of Jack Daniels, the blue-blood poet she marries, their child, and most bizarrely of all – Baby Jesus. Never have alcoholism and depression been rendered with more hilarity; no other modern memoir has so vividly brought to life the struggle with faith. As Francine Prose wrote in the New York Review of Books: “Contemporary Believers and nonbelievers have long been drawn to confessions, like Saint Augustine’s, that read like dispatches from the knock-down drag-out encounter between God and the stubborn sinner. Lit . . . is one of those.”

And just to whet your appetite even more, how could we not reproduce that incredible quotation from the unbelievably great essay “Facing Altars”, included in her poetry collection, Sinners Welcome:

mkarrPeople usually (always?) come to church as they do to prayer and poetry—through suffering and terror. Need and fear…

The faithless contenders for prayer’s relief who sometimes ask me for help praying (still a comic notion) often say it seems hypocritical to turn to God only now during whatever crisis is forcing them toward it – a kid with leukemia, say, husband lost in the World Trade Center. But no one I know has ever turned to God any other way. As the old adage says, there are no atheists in foxholes. Maybe saints turn to God from innate righteousness. The rest of us tend to show up holding out a tin cup. The church I attended said it best on the banner stretched across it’s front: SINNERS WELCOME.

Secondly, we can announce the full slate of mini-talks, breakout sessions and other programming. Our best line-up yet? Could be:

  • What Does Salvation Feel Like? Protestantism and the Problem of Emotion – Simeon Zahl
  • Kierkegaard, Existentialism and Young Adult Anxiety – William McDavid
  • Big Foot Called My Unicorn an Antinomian: The Double Bind of the Law – Jady Koch
  • Death and Life in the Artist’s Studio – Dan Siedell
  • Thou Art My Beloved Child: Parenthood for Prodigals – Matthew Schneider
  • T.S. Eliot’s Parables of Self-Righteousness and Resurrection – Todd Brewer
  • It Came From the (Church) Basement: Addiction, Grace and Alcoholics Anonymous – John Zahl
  • Walter White vs. Raylan Givens: The Two Hats of American Law – Ethan Richardson
  • Baby, You Can Drive My Karr: Conversion & the Poetry of Mary Karr – Brad Davis
  • Crunch Time: What We Can Learn From Athletes About Dealing with Stress – Nick Lannon
  • The Prisoner, the Blind, and The Bound: Pastoring People Like You (and Me) – Jacob Smith
  • Hear Me: A Photography Exhibit – Kate Norris
  • The Romance of Grace – Jim McNeeley
  • I’ve Just Gotta Get A Message To Me – David Zahl

Pre-Register Today!

To give you more of a sense for Mary, check out the GBV-soundtracked promo for Lit here.

Donuts and Engine Coolant By the Side of the Road

Donuts and Engine Coolant By the Side of the Road

Another incredible and seasonally appropriate section from Mary Karr’s Lit, her memoir about getting sober (and many other things). Dev, it should be noted, is her son. Talk about broken vessels. We are beyond excited and honored that Mary will be joining us at our upcoming conference in NYC (4/18-20):

Prayer isn’t patching up the marriage yet, though applied to small problems from time to time, it sometimes yields up a feasible idea.

Stranded without child care once, I figure out after a prayer — it comes to me — that I could slip Chris, an ex-hooker from the [halfway] house, a…

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Alcoholic Prayer, Schizophrenic Counselors and the Nazareth Principle

Alcoholic Prayer, Schizophrenic Counselors and the Nazareth Principle

Another wonderful section of Mary Karr’s memoir of addiction and recovery, Lit, tells of how God chose to speak profoundly to her through the mouth of a total nut (and fellow addict). Obviously the Bible offers great precedent for this kind of thing (what we like to call The Nazareth Principle), but it’s nonetheless remarkable to hear of such occurrences in more modern contexts. Of course, Alcoholics Anonymous–the subject and setting of much of the book–embodies this idea. Crazy people in AA meetings often say smart things. Balaam’s ass might as well be the movement’s mascot.

In this excerpt, Mary recounts…

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Mary Karr on Resurrected Dislocation, God’s Voice and Flame Throwers

Mary Karr on Resurrected Dislocation, God’s Voice and Flame Throwers

A few more excerpts from Mary Karr’s wondrously wise Lit: A Memoir, ht JZ:

“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then — for me, anyway — a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational. There been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible. You don’t have to be Christian for the metaphor to make sense, psychologically speaking… Crazy….

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