Black Lawrence Press

Saint Monica

Saint Monica

While historically Saint Monica is the patron of wives, alcoholics, abuse victims, and numerous combinations thereof, poet Mary Biddinger brings us a modern day reinvention: a Rust Belt girl fraught with dilemmas of desire, and privy to the mystical elements of the world. Saint Monica lets the holy (and unholy) unfold against a backdrop of the post-industrial American Midwest, in poems both rich with prose and pared down to lyric filaments. Biddinger explores the intersection between everyday life and saintly inclination, departing from hagiography in order to situate the heroine in a world of county fairs and awkward school dances, uncanny clairvoyance and unmitigated longing. These are poems for anyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of a collapsed barn, or hoped for a new patron saint.

Praise

  • "Equally familiar and strange in her wonderment, Mary Biddinger’s Saint Monica rises above the water towers and smokestacks of the Midwest, a saint transfigured into a modern girl with a persistent craving for muscle cars and tattooed love boys. Yet this Saint Monica does more than want; her yearnings are feral, carnal, and unflinchingly honest. She does not ask for God to take her walls away so much as figure out how to kick them down herself. The result: her escape route is illuminated by a slender and elegant beam of longing and melancholy in poems that make clear the clandestine nature of what we desire most."
    —Steve Kistulentz
  • "Mary Biddinger evokes the patron saint of female abuse victims in narrating the adolescence of a latter day Saint Monica. Ironic humor illuminates the poems, as in 'Saint Monica Stays the Course,' a hilarious catechism of teeth-gritting endurance. Biddinger crisply narrates these memorable tales that entwine horror and sensual discovery, using deft rhythms, head-snapping line breaks, and highly original imagery."
    —Rachel Dacus

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger is the author of six full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise, The Czar, and Partial Genius, her first book of prose poems. She teaches literature and creative writing at The University of Akron and NEOMFA program, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for The University of Akron Press. Poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Court Green, Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, and Waxwing, among others. Biddinger has been the recipient of three Individual Excellence Awards in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council, and received a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship in 2015. She is currently at work on a new manuscript of small poems about ordinary things.

Biddinger Author page

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