Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The joy of lists....

Books and Culture Favorite Books of 2014

Thanks to Books and Culture and its wide-ranging reader, John Wilson, editor, for another spot on Books and Culture's annual Favorite Books list. I am grateful that John Wilson ranges so very widely that he discovered and read my books some years ago, and that the magazine continues to support them. It's an interesting list, with Christopher Beha, Ayelet Waldman, Paul Celan, Michael Robbins, and Emily St. John Mandel among the poets and writers.

Weird Fiction Book List

The online Weird Fiction Review asked me for a list of three favorite books from 2014, and I have obliged. You may find the list (with one extra) here. Thanks to David Davis for asking. 2014 was not an especially great year for reading at my house; instead, it seemed to be an entirely-too-great year for being away from home and wild ferrying trips. I am looking forward to a month off from book events with only some child-ferrying trips... and so shall start next year with some extra reading and rereading. Joy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Thank you, Renea Winchester--from her Christmas book list

from Blog the Farm:

Marly Youmans grew up in the South and now makes her home “up North.” (but she returns to the mountains every chance she gets). She spent most of this fall in Jackson County, NC with her mother where she launched her latest book, Glimmerglass. Today I write about her previous book, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. I mention it only because I haven’t a moment to begin Glimmerglass, which is receiving wonderful reviews. Her words truly are spellbinding. From the first chapter the reader is drawn toward the story. Youmans possesses the talent of word-weaving that makes me proud to be an author. Winner of multiple awards, including the Ferol Sams Award, I strongly recommend giving A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage as a gift this year. Read an excerpt from the book here.

Renea Winchester just bought a house in western North Carolina, so I look forward to meeting her when I'm next there. And that would be some time in 2015...

She has a second book (stories! color! recipes! Southern life!) out, Farming, Friends, and Fried Bologna Sandwiches. She posts at

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Glimmerglass reminder and lazy post!

Photo by artist-illustratoro-writer
Jackie Morris on twitter

No time to post--one sickie home from school, various events to attend, and I'm trying to stay healthy (-ish) and catch up on promised work. Here's a reminder for central New York region readers:

Glimmerglass reading
Writers Salon
Tuesday, December 16th
7:30 p.m.
CANO / The Wilbur Mansion
11 Ford St.
Oneonta, New York 13326


And here's the new Facebook page for the book, just updated. If you have a Facebook page yourself, please share--and if you don't, you can still send a link. Thanks to those of you who have read, written reviews in various places, purchased a book, or recommended it to others online or in the real!


Since I have no time today, I'll cobble together a few new comments from various elsewheres...

haunting tale of magic. If you enjoy you will love the flow of this, the poetry the heart.

said this [with image of jacket blurb] of Glimmerglass. Beautiful book. Loved my time lost in its pages.

RT When you are reading&find your dreams in a book. GlimmerGlass by This is how I feel

Started on Glimmerglass--odd and good, nods to Lewis Carroll, John Crowley--don't know where it's going.

Here is a wonderful gift to add to everyone's Christmas list this holiday season... Do not miss out on this literary treasure! 

Philip Cooper I absolutely loved Glimmerglass , enjoyed it more than any book I've read for a long time, and it has the most beautiful cover of course!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Snips of tinsel and gold

Life and trala: Here's the hot Facebook post of the morning: "Sometimes it's just great to be a teenage boy. Child no. 3 driving to school by himself for the first time (new license!) and last night pinned his opponent in the wrestling dual with Unatego--third meet, fourth pin. Rah!"

Highly important Yankee gossip (aka the weather): Everybody's talking weather after two snow days off from school... And evidently we are already at 25 inches for the season, which is supposedly 8 inches above where we would be normally at this time of year. I've been here for the last 15 years (plus an extra stray year earlier), and this is the slipperiest winter I can recall.

Life-in-letters: Next up event is December 16th, 7:30 at CANO, the Community Arts Network of Oneonta at The Wilbur Mansion on Ford Ave. Oneonta, New York. Here's a public invitation. Please send a link to friends in the area if you have any... If you're on Facebook, you can invite friends directly.

from the deployment series
Thank you x 3: To the many readers who have shared Glimmerglass and other recent books on facebook, twitter, and other sites--I've been very happy that you did so. Also thanks to some people who reviewed on Amazon or goodreads. I am grateful, as those things are critical for a writer now playing in the world of university and small presses. Even indie bookstores use Amazon for research. And thank you to those locals/regionals who turned out for recent events in Delhi and at the Fenimore and the Village Library and for the open house / book signing / open studio with painter Ashley Norwood Cooper, as a good crowd is much appreciated. It wouldn't have been nearly so much fun without you!

Marketing: I've just updated my Pinterest board, and it now gives a good, sweeping look at the new book, along with a lot of the gorgeous artwork by Clive Hicks-Jenkins and immaculate design by Mary-Frances Glover Burt. Please take a look by clicking the images above. And there are some interesting Amazon customer reviews and blurbs from writers and publishers here. Sample from a writer:
 Beautiful Inside and OutBy G. S. Thompson on December 2, 2014Format: HardcoverThis novel is beautiful inside and out. The story feels like a modern fairy tale with writing that dances on the pages in a way that can only be created by a spectacular writer. If you read this book you will know that Youmans is one of the most gifted writers living among us today.If you enjoy the twisting and building of words you will love this author's beautiful writing. If it can be called writing, because it seems more like she's pulling the whispers of angels down from a place we haven't been to yet and gently placing them on paper.
Here's good St. Nicholas of Myra,
who has just saved three boys
from the bad butcher--
now they need clothes
and a good book
for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Next Glimmerglass event--

Writers Salon, December 16th 

Next up: a reading from Glimmerglass with The Community Arts Network of Oneonta. Here's an invitation on facebook from CANO. If you are on Facebook and/or have area friends who are, you and they may read, invite, accept the invitations, leave comments, etc. At any rate, please come!

Tuesday, December 16th
7:30 p.m. 
CANO / The Wilbur Mansion
11 Ford Ave.
Oneonta, New York

Thaliad review online

So glad to see that the Moira Richards review of Thaliad from the Cape Times has been reprinted on Not now, darling... I'm reading. Here's a clip:
One hundred pages of mesmerising iambic pentameter surge and swell, plunge and soar the journeying through the children’s grief and the rotting remains of what was our civilisation until at last (very) few of the seven triumph over danger and lingering evil and grow into adulthood to parent a new, post-apocalyptic future for humankind... Blank verse on grand scale, heroic imagery... 
See the whole thing here. And right below is a review of friend Lesley Wheeler's latest book!


Cover and interior art for both books by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins of Wales. Design of Glimmerglass for Mercer by Mary-Frances Glover Burt. Design of Thaliad for Phoenicia by Elizabeth Adams. See tabs above for more information.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Guest post by poet Richard Nester
Open House

Thanks to everybody who turned out for yesterday's jolly open house / open studio / book signing, a joint event thrown by me and painter AshleyNorwood Cooper. Take a look at her paintings!

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Guest at The Palace at 2:00 a.m.

And here's a post from poet Richard Nester. Richard has twice been a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. He has published poetry in many journals, including Ploughshares, Callaloo, and Seneca Review. His first collection of poetry is Buffalo Laughter. You can find a post about the book here. Richard Nester is married to poet Robbi Nester; they have one son.

Fun in the Confessional
Kelsay Books, 2014
Confessionalism was all the rage when I started writing poetry in high school. Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath had made Time magazine. As a teenager with angst to burn, how could I not be hooked? Add history and the brew became even more potent. The Russians, Akhmatova and Mandelstam especially, lived dangerously and turned their private lives into vital political critiques. One of the first books of poetry that I purchased was Voznesensky’s Anti-worlds and the list of his translators provoked even more discoveries—Kunitz and Snodgrass. 
As a southerner, history was at my fingertips (literally if you consider the local library’s stock of Civil War lit). Faulkner said that every southern boy lives Pickett’s Charge over and over, and he wasn’t far wrong. There’s nothing like losing to get under one’s skin, an itch that can jump regional boundaries. After all, the Boston Red Sox were far more interesting before they won three of five World Series.
In fact, confessionalism had been around before M.L.Rosenthal coined the term and wrote that Lowell had gone “beyond customary bounds of reticence or personal embarrassment.” Poets had been relying on home-grown experiences, tearing into their lives and reconstituting the pieces on the
Richard Nester
printed page, for a long time. It is hard to imagine poetry more intimate than Emily Dickinson’s eyeball-to-eyeball addresses or Hopkin’s “terrible sonnets.” But there is a difference between their work and the confessionalism that Lowell created, a certain “slant”ness that keeps the reader on the other side like the glass and telephones separating inmates and visitors in prison dramas. Yeats too is a precursor as he walks “among schoolchildren” or prays beside his daughter’s crib. However, Lowell takes him to task for a calculation that he thinks verges on dishonesty as no one walks and prays “for exactly one hour.” Yeats had yet to commit himself to what Lowell called “the real skinny,” the raw truth in his view.
One problem with confessionalism in the raw is that hanging one’s dirty laundry—if I may seriously mix a metaphor—can lead to hurt feelings. Lowell got into some major personal dust-ups in which he had to invoke the supreme authority of art to save his skin. It’s not an alibi that persuades everyone, ask Elizabeth Bishop, in that it merely attempts to erase the distinction between poetry and gossip. Lowell’s poem “Dolphin” is a gloss on the emotional armor it takes to be an out-and-out confessionalist (or is it out-and-outing?)


My Dolphin, you only guide me by surprise,
forgetful as Racine, the man of craft,
drawn through his maze of iron composition
by the incomparable wandering voice of Phedre.
When I was troubled in mind, you made for my body
caught in its hangman’s knot of sinking lines,
the glassy bowing and scraping of my will . . .
I have sat and listened to too many
words of the collaborating muse,
and plotted perhaps too freely with my life,
not avoiding injury to others,
not avoiding injury to myself—
to ask compassion . . . this book, half fiction,
an eelnet made by man for the eel fighting—
my eyes have seen what my hand did.

Is that an allusion to Yeats “walked and prayed” I hear in Lowell’s “sat and listened”?
I felt a certain Lowellian spirit hovering over me recently as I moved toward completion of a poem that both named a name and arose as a meditation on an academic moment.

Facing Facts

My son’s Soc. text is full of strange fish,
commonplaces no less exotic for being familiar.
Take the principle of least interest
Now there’s a gloomy little butterfly of truth,
the plot of Alfie or Maugham’s Of Human Bondage,
alive on every teenage date I ever had. It says 
the less you love the more you run the show.
I read the postulate aloud and right away
my son said “Emily”—ouch. 
Who of us would want to live that way, 
but we do. Houdini stepping into the straitjacket
and staying there.

Richard Nester
Well, I’m not recommending my poem for inclusion in the next Norton Anthology, but perhaps you can see the similarities between its situation and Lowell’s “Dolphin.” It describes what I take to be a serious human problem, and I thought about posting it on my Facebook page. However, there’s my son and his former girlfriend to consider. I could, of course, invent a name besides “Emily,” but there’s a perfection to that name that my poor invention cannot surpass. In any case, the poem won’t appear anywhere until I’ve asked my son about it. Though I don’t plan on giving him artistic control.
Contact with younger poets has given me new perspectives on confessionalism. Denise Weuve at a “spoken word” reading said that her second book was less “confessional” than her first, a movement that had been predicted by a mentor as something that would occur naturally as she got early adolescent issues off her chest. This perspective is common, but I think demeans confessionalism as a strategy for making poetry. Confessionalism is more durable and more broadly useful than that and also less psychoanalytic.
Other perspectives have given me more fertile understandings. During a sojourn at the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, I came to know a poet who washes dishes at their skid row kitchen, Arnal Kennedy. Arnal writes poems about religious faith that have the same fire one finds in Hopkins, but he covers other subjects as well from street encounters, to battlefield memoirs, to love affairs. Astonished by the range of experience in his book You Woke Me in the Dark, I asked him “how many lifetimes” he had had. His reply was that he found first person to be the most compelling point of view and used it even when the experience wasn’t his own or had been fictionalized. I suddenly felt very na├»ve, a victim of Lowell’s “real skinny” dictum. “Real” might just as well mean “compellingly told.” So I now have another tool in my confessional toolkit as well as another dodge. Oh, that’s not about you, I just made it up. Or put another way, perhaps the confessional version of Yeats’ golden bird from “Sailing to Byzantium” is not keeping “a drowsy emperor awake” so much as preventing a bored priest from nodding off. Why couldn’t I have discovered lying sooner?

Friday, December 05, 2014

Hodgepodge soup

Ashley Norwood Cooper!
next event
2-5 this Sunday at 114 Lake St., Cooperstown
Book signing and open studio with Ashley Norwood Cooper. Books (various of mine plus a little catalogue of the deployment series), monoprints, paintings from this series and the prior cut-away houses series, beaujolais nouveau and wine and goodies till everything runs out!

favorite Glimmerglass review of the week (from Amazon, by a novelist) 
***** Beautiful Inside and Out By G. S. Thompson on December 2, 2014 Format: Hardcover This novel is beautiful inside and out. The story feels like a modern fairy tale with writing that dances on the pages in a way that can only be created by a spectacular writer. If you read this book you will know that Youmans is one of the most gifted writers living among us today.If you enjoy the twisting and building of words you will love this author's beautiful writing. If it can be called writing, because it seems more like she's pulling the whispers of angels down from a place we haven't been to yet and gently placing them on paper. Here's another suggestion: Get two copies of this book because you'll want to share it, but you'll be reluctant to ever let your copy go.

picture at upper right
That's Ashley Cooper's rather odd pooch, Peach, who has shoved his head into a number of her paintings--one Christmas Eve, he wolfed down a bag of chocolate-covered espresso beans that were under the tree, and then spent the night running from the house to Otsego Lake aka Glimmerglass like an insane boomerang that simply can't quit.

new page for Glimmerglass
While I have a page on this site for Glimmerglass, I started one yesterday on Facebook as well, which you may find right here. The page is set on "public," so anyone may visit.

book recommendation
This year has been one in which I haven't read nearly as much as I would like, and have traveled more than I would wish for many reasons. But I just read Otfried Preussler's (1923-2013) delicious Krabat and the Sorceror's Mill (The New York Review Children's Collection.) Like all the best children's books, there's no upper age limit on the person who might like it. This tale of Krabat's imprisonment along with other boys and young Krabat and the Sorceror's Mill contains richness and mystery, and powers of friendship and love that battle--one kind of magic against another--against the darkness of the Master. Though I never read the book as a child, I experienced in reading it now that wonderful, light-drenched immersion in a story that happens so often for passionate readers in childhood. Here's a great tribute to the book from Chris Kubica, who did read the book as a boy (and who now lives in Chapel Hill, where I have moved and lived three times and thought that I would live for good, B. P. N.* His drawing is on the cover.)
men moves as quickly as time in the demonic mill. Bildungsroman and fairy story,

*Before polar North. You knew that, right?

the start of the story
It was between New Year's Day and Twelfth Night, and Krabat, who was fourteen at the time, had joined forces with two other Wendish beggar boys. Although His Most Serene Highness the Elector of Saxony had passed a law forbidding vagabonds to beg in His Most Serene Highness's lands (but luckily the justices and those in authority would often turn a blind eye), the boys were going from village to village in the country around Hoyerswerda, dressed as the Three Kings from the East. They wore straw crowns on top of their caps, and one of them, little Lobosch from Maukendorf, who was playing the part of the King of the Moors, blackened his face with soot every morning. He walked proudly at the head of the little procession, bearing the Star of Bethlehem, which Krabat had nailed to a stick.

remembered quote while thinking of Krabat
“I believe there is no part of our lives, our adult as well as child life, when we’re not fantasizing, but we prefer to relegate fantasy to children, as though it were some tomfoolery only fit for the immature minds of the young. Children do live in fantasy and reality; they move back and forth very easily in a way we no longer remember how to do.” -Maurice Sendak