Tropic of Squalor: Poems

Tropic of Squalor: Poems

A new volume of poetry from the New York Times bestselling and esteemed author of The Liar’s Club and Lit.

Long before she earned accolades for her genre-defining memoirs, Mary Karr was winning poetry prizes. Now the beloved author returns with a collection of bracing poems as visceral and deeply felt and hilarious as her memoirs. In Tropic of Squalor, Karr dares to address the numinous—that mystery some of us hope towards in secret, or maybe dare to pray to. The "squalor" of meaninglessness that every thoughtful person wrestles with sits at the core of human suffering, and Karr renders it with power—illness, death, love’s agonized disappointments. Her brazen verse calls us out of our psychic swamplands and into that hard-won awareness of the divine hiding in the small moments that make us human. In a single poem she can generate tears, horror, empathy, laughter, and peace. She never preaches. But whether you’re an adamant atheist, a pilgrim, or skeptically curious, these poems will urge you to find an inner light in the most baffling hours of darkness.

Title:Tropic of Squalor: Poems
ISBN:9780062699848
Format Type:

About Mary Karr

is an American poet, essayist and memoirist. She rose to fame in 1995 with the publication of her bestselling memoir


    Tropic of Squalor: Poems Reviews

  • Tucker

    I read and loved Mary Karr’s memoirs: “Lit” and “The Liar’s Club,” but I had not previously read any of her poetry. In her new collection “Tropic of Squalor,” I felt as though I was re...

  • Jon(athan) Nakapalau

    Palpable and concentric - the poems in this book are sequestered parts of the pageantry and pace of life. ...

  • Rebecca

    Mary Karr is mostly known as a memoirist, but this is actually her fifth poetry collection. Death is a major theme, with David Foster Wallace’s suicide (“Among genii, whoever dies first wins. / Or...

  • Diane S ?

    3.5 review soon....

  • Marne Wilson

    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and I am definitely not the right reader for it. Karr deals with some dark subject matter here, and her coping strategy is a thick layer of cynicism. For examp...

  • L K Simonds

    What can I say? This is classic Mary Karr: No holds barred poems about life in the Tropic of Squalor, that is, under the curse. Ms. Karr's observations are poignant and almost always have a comic elem...

  • Glenda

    “Tropic of Squalor” ranges in subject from the personal to the political. Many of the poems have an autobiographical voice, and an early poem, “Illiterate Progenitor,” speaks to life with a fa...

  • Autumn Kovach

    I don't read poetry often but I first encountered Mary on an On Being podcast, which I've listened to multiple times. I've read her memoir and then saw her live at Books Are Magic in Brooklyn. She rea...

  • John

    a wit with words to be reckoned ...

  • Michael Morris

    It has been a long time since I read a volume of poems which made me say "Wow!" more than a couple times. Karr's poems rarely disappoint, and this collection is an absolute joy, despite the suffering ...