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 2007’s Prairie Fever and 2011’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.”
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. In general, when books of poetry come out, I’ll spend weeks, even months, going through them slowly. Rare is the book of poetry I pounce on and gobble up like subway commuters do Fifty Shades of Grey. Mary Biddinger has been one of those poets since book one, and at this rate, I suspect she will be long into the future. **** ½
I loathe this whole “book trailer” fad, but in this case, I’ll make an exception.