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Saint Monica

Publication Date: April 2011


While historically Saint Monica is the patron of wives, alcoholics, abuse victims, and numerous combinations thereof, poet Mary Biddinger brings us a modern day reinvention: a Rust Belt girl fraught with dilemmas of desire, and privy to the mystical elements of the world. Saint Monica lets the holy (and unholy) unfold against a backdrop of the post-industrial American Midwest, in poems both rich with prose and pared down to lyric filaments. Biddinger explores the intersection between everyday life and saintly inclination, departing from hagiography in order to situate the heroine in a world of county fairs and awkward school dances, uncanny clairvoyance and unmitigated longing. These are poems for anyone who has ever marveled at the beauty of a collapsed barn, or hoped for a new patron saint.


Mary Biddinger evokes the patron saint of female abuse victims in narrating the adolescence of a latter day Saint Monica. Ironic humor illuminates the poems, as in ‘Saint Monica Stays the Course,’ a hilarious catechism of teeth-gritting endurance. Biddinger crisply narrates these memorable tales that entwine horror and sensual discovery, using deft rhythms, head-snapping line breaks, and highly original imagery.”

-Rachel Dacus

About the Author

Mary Biddinger

Mary Biddinger is the author of six full-length collections of poetry, most recently Partial Genius: Prose Poems. She teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Akron, and edits the Akron Series in Poetry for the University of Akron Press. Poems and flash fiction have recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, The Laurel Review, On the Seawall, Poetry, Southern Indiana Review, and Waxwing, among others. Biddinger has been the recipient of three Individual Excellence Awards from the Ohio Arts Council, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, and the 2019 Mid-Career Cleveland Arts Prize in literature. Her current project is a flash fiction manuscript about the adventures of two graduate school roommates in late 1990s Chicago. Her seventh full-length collection of poems, Department of Elegy, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in early 2022.

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