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Mary Karr    

Poet, Essayist, & Memoirist; "Viper Rum," "The Devil's Tour," "Abacus," "The Liars' Club"

 “Astonishing… One of the most dazzling and moving memoirs to come along in years… Breathtaking clarity and compassion … [Karr’s] most powerful tool is her language, which she wields with the virtuosity of both a lyric poet and an earthy, down-home Texan. It’s a wonderfully unsentimental vision that redeems the past even as it recaptures it on paper.” — Michiko Kakutani, New York Times on The Liar’s Club

“Fans of the smart-mouthed hell-raiser need not fear. Karr brings the same unstinting truth-telling sensibility to her spiritual concerns as she has to her earthly struggles.” — Dan DeLuca, Philadelphia Inquirer on Sinners Welcome

Mary Karr is an award-winning poet and best-selling memoirist. She is the author of Lit, the long-awaited sequel to her critically-acclaimed and New York Times best-selling memoirs The Liars' Club and Cherry. Lit received an avalanche of rave reviews across the country and was an immediate best-seller, having hit the New York Times, Independent Booksellers, San Francisco, and Boston Globe best-seller lists. It was listed as a "Best Book of 2009 in numerous publications, including Time magazine's "The Top 10 Everything of 2009", New York Times Book Review (Top 10), New York Times, Michiko Kakutani (Top 10), and the New Yorker (Reviewer Favorite), among many others.

The Liars' Club won prizes for best first nonfiction from PEN (The Martha Albrand Award for nonfiction), the Texas Institute for Letters, and was a finalist for The National Book Critics Circle Awards. It chronicled her hardscrabble Texas childhood with enough sass and literary verve to spark a renaissance in memoir, cresting the New York Times best-seller list for more than a year. Cherry, her ecstatically reviewed account of a psychedelic adolescence and a moving sexual coming-of-age, followed it into best-sellerdom. Hailed as "the memoir of the season," Lit answers the question asked by thousands of fans: How did Karr make it out of that toxic upbringing to tell her own tale?

Karr adds yet another title, songwriter, to her pedigree with the release of KIN, SONGS BY MARY KARR AND RODNEY CROWELL on Vanguard Records on June 5, 2012. Produced by Joe Henry, Kin marks the first collaboration between the two writers and is Karr's entry into the world of music. A born raconteur, Karr brings to her lectures and talks the same wit, irreverence, joy, and sorrow found in her poetry and prose. A sought after speaker, she has given distinguished talks at prestigious universities, libraries, and writers' festivals, including Harvard University, Oxford University, Princeton University, Brown University, Syracuse University ("On Salman Rushdie" with Salman Rushdie), the New York Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Folger Library (Poetry Society of America/Emily Dickinson Lecture), The New Yorker Literary Festival, PEN/Faulkner, and the Festival of Faith and Writing. Karr welcomes conversation with her audience and she is known for her spirited, lively, and engaging Q&A sessions.

Of her poet's soul, Karr says, "From a very early age, 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." Her poetry grants include The Whiting Writer's Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. She has won prizes from Best American Poetry as well as Pushcart Prizes for both poetry and essays. Her four volumes of poetry are Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins, 2006), Viper Rum (Penguin, 1998), The Devil's Tour (New Directions, 1993), and Abacus (Wesleyan, 1986). Her work appears in such magazines as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, and Parnassus. Karr is the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University and was the weekly poetry editor for the Washington Post Book World's "Poet's Choice" column, a position canonized by Bob Hass, Ed Hirsch, and Rita Dove. She lives in Syracuse, New York and New York City.

Speech Topics

Imagination and Passion in Christian Spirituality: Lessons for Recovery from the Ignatian Exercises

Taking Your Power Back: Surviving Sexual Abuse

Overcoming Hurt & Anger: Don’t Just Survive, Thrive

Poetry and Prayer: The Unlikely Catholic

The Decline and Fall of a Blackbelt Drinker: What College Students Need to Know About Alcoholism

The Lifelong Journey of Alcoholism and Recovery

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From Lit to Literature: The Transformation of Truth into “Reality”

Karr Repair: Road Maps for Turning “Liars’ Club’s” Twisted Journey into Awe of Being “Lit”

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