Mary Karr & Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (2011)

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For the 2011 O.B. Hardison Poetry Series , Mary Karr and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon read their works in the Folger's Elizabethan Theatre on March 21, 2011. Conversation moderated by Reb Livingston, poet and editor of No Tell Motel.

Mary Karr

Mary Karr is known for her memoirs, but it’s her four volumes of poetry—Sinners Welcome, Viper Rum, The Devil's Tour, and Abacus—that shine with a fervent beauty. Her memoir, The Liars’ Club, was a New York Times bestseller for more than a year. Her follow up, Cherry, was a bestseller for The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. Her third memoir, Lit, was named best book of 2009 by many publications including New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Entertainment Weekly, Time, and more. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry in 2004 and is now the Jesse Truesdell Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University.

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon is the author of ]Open Interval[, a finalist for both the 2009 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the National Book Award, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She is an assistant professor of English at Cornell University. Paired with Karr, she explores with a powerful and honest touch what is beautiful and broken about life.


From "Son’s Room"

If you never been a kid, and choose to raise one, know

he’ll wind up raising you. From whatever small drop

of care you start out with, he’ll have to grow an ocean

and you a boat on which to sail from yourself

forever, else you’ll both drown.

From Sinners Welcome by Mary Karr © 2006 by Mary Karr, published by Harper Perennial. Used with permission of the author.

From "The Buffet Dream"

In the buffet dream this is what I want—:

Everything I can swallow:

What is hot—: What is cooked—: What is sweet—:

What will fit on my plate—: What will drive me—from sleep

with longing—: This is hunger:—

before the first bite crosses my tongue, waking.

From ]Open Interval[ by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon © 2009 by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. Used with permission of the author.