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Author Spotlight: Angela Alaimo O'Donnell (Mortal Blessings: A Sacramental Farewell)

September 9, 2014

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell shares stories from her new book, Mortal Blessings: A Sacramental Farewell, about how the mundane tasks of caregiving during her mother’s final days—bathing, feeding, taking her for a walk in her wheelchair—became rituals or ordinary sacraments that revealed traces of the divine.

In this interview, O'Donnell shares insights into the "Catholic imagination," a sacramental worldview, her life as a poet, her inspirations as an artist growing up in the Catholic Church, and her very moving stories of caring for her mother towards the end of her life.

About Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell teaches courses in American Catholic studies, English, and creative writing at Fordham University, where she also serves as associate director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Her most recent book of poems, Waking My Mother, is a collection of elegies focused on the relationships between mothers and daughters. Her previous book, Saint Sinatra & Other Poems, was been nominated for the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Imaginative Writing. Previous books include Moving House and two chapbooks: Mine and Waiting for Ecstasy. She is also the author of The Province of Joy, a book of hours based on the prayer practice and grounded in the theological imagination of Flannery O’Connor.

O’Donnell’s poems have appeared in many journals, including America, Christian Century, Christianity and Literature, First Things, Hawaii Pacific Review, Mezzo Cammin, Pedestal Magazine, Post Road, Potomac Review, Relief, RUNES, String Poetry, Valparaiso Poetry Review, Verse Wisconsin, Vineyards, Windhover, and Xavier Review, and in a variety of anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature. She has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Web prizes, and was a finalist for the Foley Poetry Award, the Elixir First Book Award, and the Mulberry Poets & Writers Award.

O’Donnell also writes essays that engage literature and art in the context of the Catholic intellectual tradition.  Her essays and reviews have appeared in such journals as America, Commonweal, and Christianity and Literature, and have been included in a variety of collections and anthologies. O’Donnell is a columnist for America and contributes columns and blog essays devoted to books and culture.

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