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

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Y-Y-Y

MB of Find Me a Bluebird has pointed out that a Ms. Y ran away to Yaddo and Yale, and asks if she has any other Y venues lined up. She does not—that is, I do not, though I am open to other Y-ideas. Those of us in the long tail of the alphabet, with those less-used letters, need to promote them. Up with X! Up with Y! Etc. Etc.? Make that Xvz! For the next year, buy all your books from authors whose last names start with W, X, Y, and Z. They have been languishing in the dust bunnies on the bottom shelf for years.

As I have been away for twenty-nine days, my house is a sad wreck. Somebodies have been flinging broken pop tarts, dirty cups, and assorted laundry over the house. Another somebody had no boxers left. Domestic explosions are in evidence in all areas except the dining room. Meanwhile, it is still Easter in the living room, complete with baskets and egg tree! It will take a long time to comb the snarls out of this bad-hair-day house. Bad-hair-month house.

Here is the good stuff.

At Yaddo, I drafted (yes, I wrote like a maniac) a short novel and a story. I also met lots of interesting artists, attended readings and concerts, and went to open studios. Once I did a reading from my recent poetry. Once I read from the above-mentioned short novel. That is a brief and bare account of twenty-five days that satisfied my desire to do little else than meditate on the emerging shape of a book and write.

I came home, hugged my family, and then raced off to Yale Divinity School, where Makoto Fujimura and I did two collaborative presentations at the “Faith as a Way of Life” conference on pastoral excellence. Our events yoked my “The Pilgrim Soul” with eleven paintings titled with phrases drawn from the story. And yes, it is thrilling to see images made as a response to one’s own writing. As Mako works in the Nihongan style with a paint made of crushed jewels (along with vermilion, cochineal, silver, gold, and platinum), it’s hard to find photographs to do justice to the marriage of light and paint. He’ll be having somebody who specializes in micro-photography record the images, and eventually I’ll post a link. We may be doing a few other things with this project . . .

And that is the nutshell version of Y at Y and Y.

Oh, I spent a wonderful afternoon at the Yale Art Gallery, too. So many lesser-known museums have such splendid collections. This spring I’ve been to the Corning Museum of Glass and Yale, and found them both very worth seeing. While the contemporary/modern sculpture at YAG had a familiar air of fascinating tedium, there were lots of lovely things in the “ancient,” Asian, and painting collections. Think I’ll add going to smaller museums to my year's resolutions.

Credit: The photograph above is a photograph of an installation by Makoto Fujimura at All Hallow’s, London (curated by Meryl Doney of The Hayward Gallery for The City of London Festival.) It originally appeared on his blog, Refractions. The measurements of the three “Mercy Seat” paintings were 1 ½ x 2 ½ cubits—a cubit being the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow, and the unit of measurement used in the pyramids (Pharaoh’s cubit) and in the mercy seat atop the Ark of the Covenant (Moses’ cubit.) Mako used the "cubits" of his three children. A little boat covered with Chinese paper sits on the floor between the mercy seats, the source of the video, “Nagasaki Koi,” that floats in the air above the seats.

18 comments:

  1. Oh, glorious! You've had an unforgettable recent past and I know it will warm your nights, when warmth is needed, for a long time.

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  2. Wow, you are talking about Yale and all this fabulousness and all I can think of is "Hey! I still have an Easter egg tree up in my house to!"

    :P

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  3. I can't wait to see these images with your words!

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  4. All those Ys - sound like a good combination.

    Your descriptions of Makoto Fujimura's work make it sound wonderful. All those colours - I'd love to see. I wonder if that installation is still at All Hallows - next time I'm in London I'll try and take a look.

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  5. An Easter egg tree? Can't be many leaves left on it and the dog must have found the last egg by now!

    Singing Y Y Y ...or was it... singing high high high singing low low low must we go go go did I ... her so... Dear oh dear, help some one!

    I expected there to be some domestic comment, I could sense it over this side of the Atlantic on day one! Bliss! I promise to buy one of your books now if it has some pictures!

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  6. Greetings Marly,
    Love, love, love, love all this "Good News!"
    VERY proud of the creative genius of energy working between you & Mr. Mako.
    Congratulations!
    Keep up the good work and forget about the everyday stuff for it will take care of itself, in The End of the story...

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  7. Hi there,

    Laura
    &
    Susanna
    &
    Amanda
    &
    Clare
    &
    Robert
    &
    Eileen--

    I'm glad to be back in blogdom, with my immaterial friends!

    Clare, I will write him and see if he has anything up in England right now. I know he had a group show in Birmingham not long ago...

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  8. Postscript Department11:10 PM, May 22, 2007

    P. S. to the last: Nothing in England at the moment... You can see some images on his site, and it can carry you to his galleries as well.

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  9. Plenty in England, I promise you! (out of context)

    Sorry Marly, my poor expression or perhaps "lost in translation" or just an English sense of humour from an "eccentric" as I am now referred to!

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  10. Robert,

    Thank you for reminding me that there is "something" in England, including you and yours!

    Eccentric? That must be why you keep adding blogs... (You and Chris, the mad bloggers of the Western World.)

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  11. Vicarious thrills here. And as for authors whose names fall towards the end of the alphabet--at my shop every so often, in the interest of fairness, we reverse the alphabet.

    As a teen working in libraries I used to always choose a book or two from the bottom shelf to check out; particularly if the (now archaic) card in the pocket indicated it had experienced decades of neglect and dust. It was as good a way as any to read my way into strange corners.

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  12. jarvenpa,

    How marvelous you are to reverse the alphabet! That's the way I always arrange my books. Otherwise Yeats and Yourcenar and I shall never be on the top row.

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  13. At school roll call, being an M was not so good either! Always in the middle so never got let off first (or last), so never got first choice at the dry buns for tea! The grass is greener they say!

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  14. A "Mileham" would be very good for a writer, though. You'd rarely be skirmishing with the dust bunnies on the bottom shelf...

    Yes, I remember always being last. Rarely would a teacher reverse the line. For three years, I was right next to a "W" who was fainter, so that lent excitement to waiting in line-up.

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  15. Backward me -- I finally Googled "Yaddo" and learned that it was a famous artist's colony (rather than a Marly-ism), and I'm thrilled that you were invited to participate in 400 acres of world-class gardens and a mansion filled with brilliant poets, painters, and novelists.

    I'm sure that if I had spent the merry month of May at Yaddo, I'd have had a wonderful time -- but with absolutely nothing to show for it.

    Did you ever write any poems about the experience ? Can you tell us more about your project the Yale Divinity school ?

    (maybe, like Robert and I, you should start a few more blogs to cover these topics ?)

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  16. Oops, didn't I mention what Yaddo is? I think you missed the post where I talked about going. You were probably too dratted busy starting up your seventeenth art blog! You and Robert are dizzying! It must be something about sculptors...

    We had one composer, too--Aaron Einbond, a wonderfully talented guy with great dimples.

    I didn't write poems, though I fiddled with a few while there. I'm still pondering my direction with poems, having just finished up a manuscript.

    Yes, I will write some more about the collaboration, but I'm going to wait until we have some Fujimura pictures. Otherwise, it's just incomplete.

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  17. Well, I must have been napping too long -- how could I miss a post titled "Y-Y-Y"?

    Since I'm one of those oddballs who loves the forms of letters, the history of letters, and (until the digital age kicked traditional letter-arts in the fanny) whose fondest desire was to create a beautiful alphabet...I did a little digging, just for fun, around fringes of the 'net for that lovely forked consonant/vowel.

    Ah, yes, a special letter -- both consonant and vowel:

    http://www.askoxford.com/asktheexperts/faq/
    aboutother/lettery

    Here's a particularly mind-spangling take on the mystical secret life of the Hebrew parallel for "Y":

    http://www.inner.org/hebleter/yud.htm

    Sure glad you're back!

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  18. "Mind-spangling" is right!

    I like the idea of the crown at top and the little pathway underneath. And the idea that light flows through the channels of letters. In the beginning was the Word...

    I'd like to see a Lori alphabet. I can imagine some of its Witzellian attributes.

    Me, too. Glad, that is, despite playing catch-up. But I'm not laboring too mightily. Just watched "Notorious" for the Nth time. Before that, "Pan's Labyrinth."

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Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.