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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Sinners Welcome

Sinners Welcome
By Mary Karr
Harper Collins
New York 2006
Poetry and Essay
$22.95

From an inferno childhood to irreverent Roman Catholic, from alcoholism and agnosticism, writer to piety, is what Sinners Welcome is all about.

If you are not basically interested in poetry, read the final essay first. It is entitled “Facing Altars: Poetry and Prayer.” Karr sets out her improbable conversions with wit and sardonic humor. Then turn to the tough-minded poems about life in the darkness of abuse to glimmers of life and hope and humor found in poetry and religion.

About Jesus’ birth, “He came out a sticky grub, flailing the load of his own limbs….and the sloppy mouth found that first fullness – her milk….” No Santa’s and reindeers at this Christmas message, just reality.

Then read the poem entitled “Miss Flame, Apartment Bound as Undiscovered Porn Star.” The Christian woman reflects on some women – and men and their fantasies.

Here’s Jesus on the Cross. “You hang like that, a sack of flesh with the hard nails of trinity holding you in place.” No mincing of words.

And here is Jesus in the tomb. “He ached for two hands made of meat he could crush the end of. In the corpse’s core, the stone fist of his heart.”

Then back again to life as love and pain. “For years I chose the man to suit the instant, from good guy to goat boy, dreadlocked to crew cut. Not one could bridle me….”

A friend said to Mary Karr on hearing that she had become a Catholic, “Not you on the pope’s team. Say it ain’t so!” Karr replies, “Well, not the late pope’s favorite catholic (nor he my favorite pope.)”

Karr takes her conversion seriously, studied Jesuit prayer and meditation and takes the sacraments regularly. She is a splendid writer who loves the church and finds little contradiction in her criticism of it, her secular life and her deep felt piety. She is a true worldly, humane and devout Christian.

Her poetry is very available, not abstruse or confusing. It is biting, clear, incisive and inspiring. It is good reading right along with the prayers you might read in daily devotions.

Her best selling memoir is The Liar’s Club.

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