Before I interviewed Mary Karr this year at our Writer’s Symposium, I read or re-read everything of hers I could find. Her memoirs, Liar’s Club, Cherry, Lit, her poetry, her essays, her introduction to a new edition of T.S. Eliot’s poetry, the works. She writes the way some people play basketball — with elbows up. Get too close and you get an elbow in the face. Sometimes that’s how I felt when I read her stuff. Her writing is so harsh, so beautiful, so edgy, so poetic, so mean, so descriptive, so, so, human. Imagine then, what it was like to hang out with her for a couple of days talking about writing and life. She spoke in a chapel service and got a sustained ovation that I rarely see. After that chapel talk, when she and I walked across campus so she could speak to a poetry class, students stopped their conversations, turned toward her, and applauded. It seemed as if they were applauding how refreshingly blunt she was, how much she had overcome, how redemptive her story was. Personally, I think they were applauding the Truth. They heard it and saw it in Mary Karr. Here’s my interview with her.