“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
“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
"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."
— Joshua Kryah, Electronic Poetry Review
“…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
“…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.”
“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.”