Paperback Price: $13.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-882295-37-1

Selected Poem

In Tennessee I Found a Firefly

Flashing in the grass; the mouth of a spider clung
to the dark of it: the legs of the spider
held the tucked wings close,
held the abdomen still in the midst of calling
with thrusts of phosphorescent light—

When I am tired of being human, I try to remember
the two stuck together like burrs. I try to place them
central in my mind where everything else must
surround them, must see the burr and the barb of them.
There is courtship, and there is hunger. I suppose
there are grips from which even angels cannot fly.
Even imagined ones. Luciferin, luciferase.
When I am tired of only touching,
I have my mouth to try to tell you
what, in your arms, is not erased.


2002 Beatrice Hawley Award
2004 Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award
2003 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
Listed among the “Best Poetry of 2003” by Library Journal

“. . .with her intelligence and understated grace, Szybist may become one of the best-known writers of her generation. In Granted, she explores a timeless theme—spiritual and romantic longing. In page after page, she wrestles with faith and hope, struggling to find peace by finding freedom from desire. In the process, she lures readers into a hidden place somewhere between intellect and silence.”
The Christian Science Monitor

“. . .Mary Szybist’s most gorgeous stylistic accomplishment may be her quietest, the enactment of an unaffected aesthetic of modesty.”
American Book Review

“. . .it is these small passages, these arrivals, which detail the inaccurate promises and chosen solitudes that give Granted its often unsettling brilliance.”
New Orleans Review

“There is a liminal quality to the poems that make up Mary Szybist’s first book, Granted. They hover at the threshold of desire, moving back and forth between both spiritual and romantic ardor, between what has been granted and what has been taken for granted within the confines of love and faith. Tethered at the lip of “impossible longings,” Szybist encounters concurrent moments of ecstasy, sensuality, and cynicism in her relationships with the self, others, the world, and God.”
Electronic Poetry Review

“This work is ruminative, speculative, and deeply felt….”
Rain Taxi

“. . .the best of these 37 poems express an almost intimate relationship between the poet and the sacred….[Szybist] writes from her own perspective and that of Jesus Christ; his mother, Mary; and the Archangel Gabriel, making the book resemble a polyphonic hymn. Using fresh metaphors…Szybist examines spiritual states from longing to abandonment to ecstasy.”
Library Journal

“…we see that it is her being, her soul, that flutters so desperately within, just as she is the thing beating its wings in the mouth of the world, of God—which may be a fair description of the poetic voice itself, or at least of Szybist’s, no less iridescent for its fragility.”
The Boston Phoenix

“Mary Szybist’s poems are about religious and sexual longing and about suspicion of religious and sexual longing. They exist in, or move toward, the negative spaces, the luminous, maddening almost presences the objects of our deepest desires inhabit. She has a gift for music, a gift for aphorism, a gift for being haunted. This is serious work, so it is occasionally funny and sometimes strange and often beautiful. ‘Original research in language,’ Ezra Pound said the real thing was. This is it.”
—Robert Hass

“Mary Szybist’s great poetic gifts confront the limits of human compassion, delving into some of its agonized consequences. Her work’s ambition is the creation of a free human in the midst of the seemingly endless tetherings of desire. Great spiritual courage is sometimes almost inaudible. When one leans in to listen, it almost shocking to hear this gorgeous soul sing.
—Jorie Graham

“This is poetry of a rare fine delicacy. Its very modesty testifies to a great ambition—to overcome by the quietest of means.”
—Donald Justice


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