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Before diving into the 43 poems of Sinners Welcome (HarperCollins), consider skipping straight to the back for poet/author Mary Karr’s sardonic essay on prayer and poetry. Agnostics, atheists, and skeptics will find her wise-ass insights a helpful lens through which to view the many forthrightly devout poems from this self-proclaimed black-belt-sinner-turned-nontraditional-Catholic. The imagery in this slim volume is often stunning—at a performance of a Mozart piece, the grand piano is “a sarcophagus that stores/whole flocks of birds, banks of cirrus clouds,/Egyptian forest groves”—and her lines are propulsive and rhythmic. Sinners Welcome examines weighty matters such as life and death with intelligence and dark humor. And the occasional descent into tedium is easily forgiven in light of the consistent gems found throughout.