Praise For Prairie Fever
"Mary Biddinger is a beguiling shape-shifter, one who suffuses her writing with electricity and alacrity of language. I marvel at the elegant architecture and scope of each poem. The veritable menagerie of animals that visit these pages simply enchants: zebras, rhinos, marabou, goldfish, bears, and banana spiders. These poems bite and scare, ravish and delight. Prairie Fever showcases a beautiful mind, a beautiful debut."
"In this stunning debut book you will enter a landscape where girls dirt-bike uptown in braids and gloss, a woman’s gray tabby curves into your hip, an Ohio airfield becomes the hundred eyes of a peacock feather, and carnival tail lights are like “cherries pickled in gin and salt.” Biddinger’s distinctive voice is both mystically beautiful and disarmingly sensual. The grit and suffering of rural America are so beautifully rendered, the profane becomes sacred, the ordinary extraordinary."
"Sex, death, those liminal moments when innocence hovers at the edge of experience: all the great themes cross these pages, but not as narrative. Instead, Biddinger arrests them in her delicate gatherings of details. Flypaper, nasturtiums, and dangerous boys at the edge of town are the touchstones of her imagination. Think of Prairie Fever as a Sally Mann photograph in deftly chiseled verses. Or think of the poems as out-takes from a small-town gothic movie Jim Jarmusch should have made. It’s as if Biddinger re-spliced them into a dreamy collage starring a cross between To Kill a Mockingbird’s Scout Finch and Nabokov’s Lolita. You get the idea: delicate, bruised, a little wayward."
Reviews and Features
All is not well among villagers in 'Prairie Fever'
With time in graduate school at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she earned her Ph.D. in English, Mary Biddinger would know what a prairie is. In Prairie Fever, her collection of poems, she uses bucolic imagery like ''red-wing blackbirds,'' ''Riverside, selling spring peas/and bulbs. Last year's honey/wax canpes.''
But all is not right here. These aren't pastoral poems delighting in nature; they're set in a mupy town of drunken fights (''bar stools brandished like stilettos'') and arson (''the sulfur lingered in her fingertips''). Most shocking, in The Edge of Town, a 14-year-old girl and her friends see a man's body in the river and poke it with sticks to make it float away. ''Prairie Gothic'' may be the style.
Biddinger, an assistant professor at the University of Akron, is the new editor for the Akron Series in Poetry at the University of Akron Press. Prairie Fever (85 pages, softcover) costs $12 from http://www.steeltoebooks.com, at Western Kentucky University.—Lynne Sherwin, Akron
Mary is Interviewed!
Click here http://www.kickingwind.com/060407.html to read an interview with Mary Biddinger by poet Kate Greenstreet about how her first book changed her life.
Another Great Review
Click here http://edwardbyrne.blogspot.com/2007/06/mary-biddinger-prairie-fever.html to read a review of Prairie Fever by Edward Byrne, editor of Valparaiso Poetry Review.
Mary Biddinger is a Favorite at Verse Daily!
About the Author
Mary Biddinger is the author of Prairie Fever (Steel Toe Books, 2007) and the chapbook Saint Monica (forthcoming with Black Lawrence Press). Her poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in 32 Poems, Center: A Journal of the Literary Arts, The Collagist, Copper Nickel, diode, Gulf Coast, The Journal, North American Review, Passages North, and many other journals. She is the editor of the Akron Series in Poetry, and co-editor, with John Gallaher, of the new Akron Series in Contemporary Poetics. She also edits the independent literary annual Barn Owl Review, and directs the NEOMFA: Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. For more information see Mary Biddinger’s website.