This is the fourth collection of poetry published by Mary Karr, who also authored The Liars’ Club, her best-selling memoir. Formerly an “undiluted agnostic,” she converted to Catholicism in 1996. In an afterword Karr says that what drew her to the Catholic faith is its carnality. “There is a body on the cross in my church.” In a poem titled “Disgraceland,” she confesses: “You are loved, someone said. / Take that and eat it.” Spread throughout this collection is a cycle of poems about Christ that were inspired by Ignatian prayer exercises.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).