Prairie Fever

Prairie Fever by Mary Biddinger
Steel Toe Books, 2007

Praise for Prairie Fever:

Mary Biddinger’s poems are like small movies of plays Tennessee Williams never wrote because he wasn’t a woman, but would have if he had been. The depth of characterization, the vivid settings and original language create a spell not easily shaken off. Rueful wisdom shines through many of these mini-memoir poems. A terrific read. — Rachel Dacus, author of Femme au chapeau and A God You Can Dance

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. — Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Miracle Fruit and At the Drive-In Volcano

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. — Nin Andrews, author of Midlife Crisis with Dick and Jane and Sleeping with Houdini

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. — Robert Archambeau, author of Home and Variations and Laureates and Heretics

Akron Beacon Journal
Mid-American Review (text unavailable online)
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Western American Literature (text unavailable online)

Other Links:

“Drift” from Prairie Fever featured on Verse Daily

Mary discusses Prairie Fever as part of Kate Greenstreet’s First Book Interview series

Steel Toe Books’ Prairie Fever page