Book review: The Odour of Sanctity by Amy Brown

cv_the_odour_of_sanctityThis book is in bookstores now

A book of poetry about Catholic saints is not something I’d usually pick up, but I’d had this recommended to me by someone who doesn’t read poetry, so I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did. The stories of the saints and the people around them are fascinating, intense and creepy, and told with a command of language that is a pleasure to read.

This book-length poem traces the lives of six saints from the fourth century to the present day: Aurelius Augustine, Rumwold of Buckingham, Elizabeth of Hungary, Margery Kempe, Christina Rossetti and Jeff Mangum. It’s divided into six sections: in the first, the saints tell their own stories; in the second, witnesses tell their version; in the third, god chips in; in the fourth, the doctors who treated the person cured by the saints are questioned; in the…

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