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English professor’s poetry collection lauded by critics

February 22, 2013

Associate Professor of English Mary Szybist’s new collection of poetry, Incarnadine, is garnering high praise from book critics across the country and has been honored by the Oregon Book Club as their winter selection.

Called “familiar and inviting,” the collection explores religious iconography and was inspired by time spent in the art museums of Italy. “I was struck by how relatively few scenes—nearly all of them religious—were the subjects of most of the paintings,” Szybist told the Oregonian. “On the one hand, I felt relief that artists are no longer confined to such narrow subject matter. On the other hand, so many astonishing paintings emerged from those confines. To what extent had those limitations enabled the art?”

Szybist is widely recognized for her use of form in poetry, and Incarnadine is no exception. “Form is endlessly interesting to me, and I love poetry as a formal enterprise,” said Szybist. “There are some familiar forms (or variations of them) in this book (sonnet, villanelle, abecedarian, terza rima), but I also worked with erasure, collage, and visual experimentation.”

Among the “most remarkable debuts of the new century” according to NPR, Szybist’s first collection of poetry, Granted, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Media coverage for Incarnadine:

Department of English