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ISBN: 978-1-937854-20-1
Categories Poetry

O Holy Insurgency

Publication Date: February 2013


Mary Biddinger’s second full-length poetry collection, O Holy Insurgency, wrenches the love poem out of the terrain of hearts and flowers, and transplants it into a gritty Midwestern paradise where broken glass becomes a shimmering beacon, and no river is too polluted to dazzle a pair of lovers on its banks. The emotional landscape of this book is at once holy and unholy, concerned with the spirit as much as the body, and convinced that the two can never part, despite the fiscal swoon and threat of war. Fearless and bold, like a wink to a stranger in a crowded room, Biddinger’s O Holy Insurgency chronicles both triumph and struggle, a testament to a world as sacred as it is doomed.


“Think O for open and O for eye, a wandering mouth in search of surprises. The heroine of Mary Biddinger’s brilliant new collection subs rapid-fire syntax for Bond girl bullets: “Of course we didn’t have / guns. We were too fast to need them.” In this eerie prairie town, box fans reproduce in bushes and toaster ovens face eviction from countertops. Biddinger lets objects highlight the wreckage of Capitalist excess: ‘It wasn’t a paper flower they left / at the crash site, but somebody’s / underpants, dimpled with rain.’ What’s holy is passion, our heroine’s thorny femininity and devout hedonism. O Holy Insurgency documents Biddinger’s irreverent compassion and edgy sensuality: ‘you / invented me with your mouth. / We were cut from the same cloth/of awesomeness. Our glory / could stop wars. The azaleas shut / their blooms when you opened / me.'”

-Carol Guess

With equal parts wit and wisdom, Mary Biddinger’s O Holy Insurgency does what all good poetry does: she entertains while demonstrating both social and personal awareness; she rouses, comforts, and frightens the reader (often in the same poem) in the best way possible. Sometimes surreal, always poignant, Biddinger’s lyricism transcends the whitewash of contemporary verse and gives us something both familiar and new.”

-Michael Meyerhofer

O Holy Insurgency, o hymn to sacred transgressions, to Eros’ transubstantiations, to the beloved as doppelganger, as double-dog dare, as flaming conflagration of holy spirit that both purifies and destroys, and will not be quenched or exorcised.  These poems, with their crisp pivots and dove-tail joints, rise from the dingy quotidian of the American rust belt like the electric glitter of a welder’s torch.  They spark and tingle like a 9-volt battery placed upon the tongue.”

-Lee Ann Roripaugh

About the Author

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger is the author of six full-length poetry collections, including Small Enterprise, The Czar, and Partial Genius, her first book of prose poems. She teaches literature and creative writing at The University of Akron and NEOMFA program, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for The University of Akron Press. Poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Court Green, Poetry, Tupelo Quarterly, and Waxwing, among others. Biddinger has been the recipient of three Individual Excellence Awards in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council, and received a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship in 2015. She is currently at work on a new manuscript of small poems about ordinary things.

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