Flannery’s Quandary

“I will always be staggering between Despair & Presumption, facing first one & then the other,
deciding which one makes me look best.”
–Flannery O’Connor, Prayer Journal, November 6, 1946

Flannery O’Connor at Andalusia, circa 1957.
*This is the first publication of this rare photograph.*
Photo courtesy of the private collection of Dr. Martha Wilson.
For reprint permissions, please contact Literary Matters.

And neither is a place I ought to be.
I know that, Lord, is true. I also know
I shouldn’t eat sugar with a spoon,
smear leaf lard on my bread, drink coffee
before bed, and yet I do. I could go
on listing my sins, but I won’t
since pride’s a sin, too, and one I’m good at.
No matter what I do I seem doomed
to treat faith like a beauty contest.
I have a talent for darkness and doubt
way above average. Being the best
at everything is tiresome, but I don’t
see myself learning another way to be.
I’m a failure at mediocrity.

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell teaches English at Fordham University and is Associate Director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Her publications include two chapbooks, five collections of poems, a memoir, and a critical biography of Flannery O’Connor. O’Donnell’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Best of the Web Award, and the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Imaginative Writing. Her collection of 101 poems that channel the voice of Flannery O’Connor, Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O’Connor, is forthcoming from Paraclete Press. http://angelaalaimoodonnell.com/
Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Latest posts by Angela Alaimo O'Donnell (see all)

Author: Angela Alaimo O'Donnell

Angela Alaimo O’Donnell teaches English at Fordham University and is Associate Director of Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies. Her publications include two chapbooks, five collections of poems, a memoir, and a critical biography of Flannery O’Connor. O’Donnell’s work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the Best of the Web Award, and the Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Imaginative Writing. Her collection of 101 poems that channel the voice of Flannery O’Connor, Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O’Connor, is forthcoming from Paraclete Press. http://angelaalaimoodonnell.com/