book reviews · summer reading

Saint Monica ~ Mary Biddinger

Right now, I’m reading Mary Biddinger’s Saint Monica, which focuses on taking “a saint transfigured into a modern girl with a persistent craving for muscle cars and tattooed love boys. Yet, this Saint Monica does more than want; her yearnings are feral, carnal, and unflinchingly honest” (Steve Kistulentz, author of The Luckless Age).

What I find fascinating about Biddinger’s poetry is her ability to humanize Monica, embodies the Catholic saint in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. While Monica tries to keep herself holy on the outside, inside she fantasizes about Kevin McMillian, often recounting her sexual experiences with him–which includes her first time. Not all of her experiences are happy, though: violence, the threat of Hell, and jealousy plague her. Death is also apparent, both literally and figuratively, in poems like “Saint Monica of the Gauze” and “Saint Monica of the Thaw.”

I am not finished with Biddigner’s poetry, but I am enjoying her wicked humor, her honest take on lust and longing, and her wonderful command of language.



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