Mary Karr

Mary Karr

About Mary Karr

Mary Karr (born January 16, 1955) is an American award-winning poet, essayist, songwriter, and memoirist from East Texas. She first gained attention for her controversial Pushcart Award-winning essay, Against Decoration, (reprinted in Viper Rum), in which she took aim at excessive verbal ornament in poetry. Karr won a 1989 Whiting Award for her poetry. She was a Guggenheim Fellow in poetry in 2005 and has won Pushcart prizes for both her poetry and essays. Karr has published five volumes of poetry: Abacus (1987), The Devil's Tour (1993), Viper Rum (1998), Sinners Welcome (2006), and Tropic of Squalor 2018). Her poems have appeared in major literary magazines such as Poetry, The New Yorker, and The Atlantic Monthly.
She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir, The Liars' Club, which documented her hardscrabble Texas childhood, kick-started a memoir revolution, and won nonfiction prizes from PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters. Also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, it rode high on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year, becoming an annual "best book" there and for The New Yorker, People, and Time. In 2015, Karr released the bestselling The Art of Memoir, in which she synthesizes her expertise as professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic and black belt sinner. But first and foremost, Karr is a poet. From a very early age, she says, when I read a poem, it was as if the poet's burning taper touched some charred filament in my rib cage to set me alight. She has written five critically acclaimed poetry collections to date, along the way receiving a Whiting Writer's Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. Her most recent book of poetry is Tropic of Squalor.
She lives in New York City. ?

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