Research Spotlight: Mary Biddinger's new collection of poems, Saint Monica, published by Black Lawrence Press

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’s Saint Monica was a finalist for the Black River Chapbook Competition. She is also the author of the poetry collection Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and co-editor of The Monkey and the Wrench: Essays into Contemporary Poetics (University of Akron Press, 2011). Her poetry has recently appeared in 32 Poems, The Collagist, Copper Nickel, Devil’s Lake, diode, Gulf Coast, North American Review, Passages North, Waccamaw, and many others. She is the editor of the Akron Series in Poetry, co-editor-in-chief of Barn Owl Review, Associate Professor of English at the University of Akron, and director of the NEOMFA: Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Saint Monica was made possible by the generosity of the Ohio Arts Council, which has awarded Biddinger two Individual Excellence Awards in poetry over the past several years. Biddinger’s second full-length collection of poems, O Holy Insurgency, will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2012. Visit her website at