February 26, 2007
Steel Toe Books Releases Mary Biddinger’s First Book, Prairie Fever
Bowling Green, KY—Steel Toe Books Catches Prairie Fever. Steel Toe Books is proud to announce the launch of an exciting new title, Prairie Fever, by Mary Biddinger of Akron, Ohio. This is Biddinger’s first book, and we consider it an auspicious debut, as strong as any first book of poems that the poetry world has seen in years.
Biddinger, an assistant professor at University of Akron and the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program, writes about a Midwest that reminds us somewhat of Flannery O’Connor’s South. It’s dangerous, trip-wired, full of sinister forebodings and quirky characters. It unsettles us, scares us out of our wits at times, but we’re drawn by its strange beauty, its beautiful strangeness. As poet Nin Andrews states in a jacket blurb, “The grit and suffering of rural America are so beautifully rendered, the profane becomes sacred, the ordinary extraordinary.”
Steel Toe Books selected Prairie Fever after sorting through 111 submissions during our open reading period last June. We were drawn in by lines like these, the first and last stanza of “Anklebone,” a poem that was originally published in Puerto del Sol:
Some towns have the story
of a man gone mad.
Our town had the dead girl.
How I wanted to be her.
I learned to be her
the day I floated downstream
on my back. The river
filled my mouth and ears
and I drifted out of town.
Poem after poem pulled us deeper into Biddinger’s world, where we met “The girl with the heart / grown outside her body” (“Show Pony”), a sister whose “hair was the shade / or onion skins, or wallpaper / in a flooded house” (“Wheatfield Shag”), a man whose “father was famous / for eating through the wall / of a Wisconsin prison” (“Razorback”), and “A wife / who loved blanched leeks,” among other sundry characters. We felt very lucky to come across this manuscript, “Lucky / as a naked girl in tall grass / when planes drift over” (“Velvet Season”).
Poems collected in Prairie Fever previously appeared in ACM, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, The Iowa Review, Ploughshares, and many other reputable journals.
For more information about Steel Toe Books, visit www.steeltoebooks.com.
To learn more about Mary Biddinger, visit www.marybiddinger.com.