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O Holy Insurgency Paperback – February 26, 2013

3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1937854201 ISBN-10: 1937854205

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

With equal parts wit and wisdom, Mary Biddinger's O Holy Insurgency does what all good poetry does: she entertains while demonstrating both social and personal awareness; she rouses, comforts, and frightens the reader (often in the same poem) in the best way possible. Sometimes surreal, always poignant, Biddinger's lyricism transcends the whitewash of contemporary verse and gives us something both familiar and new. --Michael Meyerhofer, author of Damnatio Memoriae and Blue Collar Eulogies
                 
Think O for open and O for eye, a wandering mouth in search of surprises. The heroine of Mary Biddinger's brilliant new collection subs rapid-fire syntax for Bond girl bullets: "Of course we didn't have / guns. We were too fast to need them." In this eerie prairie town, box fans reproduce in bushes and toaster ovens face eviction from countertops. Biddinger lets objects highlight the wreckage of Capitalist excess: "It wasn't a paper flower they left / at the crash site, but somebody's / underpants, dimpled with rain." What's holy is passion, our heroine's thorny femininity and devout hedonism. O Holy Insurgency documents Biddinger's irreverent compassion and edgy sensuality: "you / invented me with your mouth. / We were cut from the same cloth/of awesomeness. Our glory / could stop wars. The azaleas shut / their blooms when you opened / me." --Carol Guess, author of Tinderbox Lawn and Doll Studies: Forensics

O Holy Insurgency, o hymn to sacred transgressions, to Eros' transubstantiations, to the beloved as doppelganger, as double-dog dare, as flaming conflagration of holy spirit that both purifies and destroys, and will not be quenched or exorcised.  These poems, with their crisp pivots and dove-tail joints, rise from the dingy quotidian of the American rust belt like the electric glitter of a welder's torch.  They spark and tingle like a 9-volt battery placed upon the tongue.  -- Lee Ann Roripaugh, author of On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year and Year of the Snake

About the Author

Mary Biddinger is the author of the poetry collections Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and Saint Monica (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), and co-editor of one volume of criticism: The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (U Akron P, 2011). Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrelhouse, Bat City Review, Blackbird, Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, H_NGM_N, Forklift, Ohio, Pleiades, Redivider, and Quarterly West. She edits Barn Owl Review, the Akron Series in Poetry, and the Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics, and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Akron.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 91 pages
  • Publisher: Black Lawrence Press (February 26, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1937854205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1937854201
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,447,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Biddinger is the author of Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007), Saint Monica (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), O Holy Insurgency (Black Lawrence Press, 2013), A Sunny Place with Adequate Water (Black Lawrence Press, 2014), and Small Enterprise (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), as well as co-editor of The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (University of Akron Press, 2011). Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Green Mountains Review, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Pleiades, and The Laurel Review, among others. Biddinger is Professor of English at The University of Akron, where she teaches courses in poetry writing and literature, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2015 NEA Literature Fellowship in poetry.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 25, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mary Biddinger, O Holy Insurgency (Black Lawrence Press, 2013)

The publication of a new book by Mary Biddinger is—or damned well should be—cause for celebration. O Holy Insurgency is her third release, following 2006's Prairie Fever and 2010's Saint Monica, and it's going to continue on in the Goat Central/Popcorn for Breakfast tradition of “every book Mary Biddinger releases gets four and a half stars or higher.” Honestly, I'd be giving this one five if not for a personal quirk. I know it's now considered grammatically correct—or at least no longer grammatically incorrect, which is a different thing—to end a question with a period. That doesn't mean I have to like it (and it happens here twice. Maybe three times).

Not that that makes O Holy Insurgency one whit less worth reading. Biddinger is one of the best poets working in America today. I ended up with so many notes jotted down of stuff I wanted to quote in the review that I simply ended up picking one at random:

“...You'd crush an egg
in your hand, and I'd write on paper
how many fragments would stick.
We'd lay our guns together
on the dresser, touching but not
overlapping. It was like the time
my hand slipped right through
a peach. Of course we didn't have
guns. We were too fast to need them.
Everyone babbling about bacteria,
the moon. All we wanted was keys.
You said you could taste the Detroit
in every angle of me. You filled
my mouth with a hundred boats
at night, all lit with paper lanterns.”
(--”A Pact”)

You can try and figure out what it all means, or you can just let it unreel before your eyes like a crazy seventies attempt at noir, a blast of images and sounds that just plain works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 19, 2013
Format: Paperback
Thank goodness for the abundance of poetry coming to our attention, through journals, in eBooks, and anthologies and in books such as O HOLY INSURGENCY by Mary Biddinger. There was a time a few decades ago when it seemed that the art of writing poetry was seeming abandoned, yet now here we are in a time of instant social communication and the luxury of reading poetry by poets who know how to distill and make visible and palpable those aspects of being alive, of feeling, of loving, of aching, and exhilaration and of depression appear on a well considered page and remind us of just how ancient and still viable this art form is.

Then on the stage steps Mary Biddinger and her alchemy pours forth with eruptions of words and ideas that challenge us at every level while they provide some of the finer poems being written today. At times her poems confuse - and that is fine because in the middle of the night, after digesting these poems, the light comes on and the felling responds to the words she has placed before us so artfully.

A GENESIS
I caught you gleaming. But you
invented me with your mouth.
We were cut from the same cloth
of awe
someness. Our glory
could stop wars. The azaleas shut
their blooms when you opened
me. A new kind of reverence
broke tabletops instead of mending.
The city sent us a letter asking
to harness our heat for infrastructure
development. How many cranes
could we power back into the sky?
There was a dead house nearby,
and only we could rock it back into
its foundation. We signed no
contract because we didn't need to.
The shutters were all hanging.
I stepped on a crisp wing ant
and you dispatched it. Water
flowed like chitchat in the cellar.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 20, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There comes a time in the life of aspiration when the invisible must leave the body, or change the body. So it is with Ms. Biddinger's poems. The reader is asked to regard the enjambed broken lines as gifts that once may have been whole, but now retain a synergy of fragmented beauty...a chipped china tea cup that may be capable of transporting a sip of soul, Crown Royal, or a broken egg with equal élan. Her poems portend to juggle bits of ideas as casually as a street performer tosses objects of unequal weight in the same orbit, but they are more nefarious in their intentions than clever distraction. They are poems of the deeper forms of conversion. Ones constructed not from the rituals of orthodoxy, but the darker mystical examinations that rarely appear in liturgies, but appear with puzzling surprise in the margins of illuminated manuscripts. It is the difference between holiness and "Your Holiness" (No offense intended.). These are poems, like a tabernacle, that braze an epistle of symbols over an invisible center.
"Just because it moves doesn't mean" [A Singularity]
Ms. Biddinger's faith appropriates objects of worlds of disregard: minor miracles, slaughterhouses, glue-guns, tween fantasies and knots them with organized religion, philosophy and self-conscious epiphanious poetry. She doesn't compose from a sense of self-disclosure, but personal reference as if the reader understands the referents in the code of line breaks, juxtaposing internal symbols and the milieu she writes in. There are many bad, pedantic, personal referent poems modern academic poetry has promoted; these are not those.
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