Mary Karr


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Mary Karr is an award-winning poet, essayist, songwriter, and memoirist from East Texas. She first gained attention for her controversial Pushcart Award-winning essay, "Against Decoration" (reprinted in Viper Rum), in which she took aim at excessive verbal ornament in poetry.

She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir, The Liars' Club, which documented her hardscrabble Texas childhood, kick-started a memoir revolution, and won nonfiction prizes from PEN and the Texas Institute of Letters. Also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, it rode high on the New York Times bestseller list for over a year, becoming an annual "best book" there and for The New Yorker, People, and Time. 

Karr followed up The Liars' Club with two more bestselling memoirs, Cherry, which recounted her tumultuous teens and sexual coming-of-age, and Lit, the story of her descent into the inferno of alcoholism and madness--and to her astonishing resurrection. 

In 2015, Karr released the bestselling The Art of Memoir, in which she synthesizes her expertise as a professor and therapy patient, writer and spiritual seeker, recovered alcoholic, and “black belt sinner,” providing a unique window into the mechanics and art of the form that is as irreverent, insightful, and entertaining as her own work in the genre.

But first and foremost, Karr is a poet. "From a very early age," she says, "when I read a poem, it was as if the poet's burning taper touched some charred filament in my rib cage to set me alight." She has written five critically acclaimed poetry collections to date, along the way receiving a Whiting Writer's Award, an NEA, a Radcliffe Bunting Fellowship, and a Guggenheim. Her most recent book of poetry is Tropic of Squalor.

Karr is also a songwriter, having collaborated with Rodney Crowell, Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and others on a country album called KIN. A sought-after speaker, she has given distinguished talks at prestigious universities, libraries, and writers' festivals across the world. Karr welcomes conversation with her audience and is known for her spirited, lively, and engaging Q&A sessions.

She is also a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Poetry magazine. Karr is the Peck Professor of Literature at Syracuse University, and she lives in New York City. ​

Best author’s book


The Liars' Club