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

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Leaves in our hair--


I'm afraid that life has been a bit too busy lately. But I have been moving forward despite the dragons and rocks and pits in the path. One maiden has been rescued, a new chariot acquired post-Irene, and much late-night oil burned.  I turned in the page proofs of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. I read Thaliad entirely too many times and then finally tossed in the final version, my fingers crossed that I did not introduce any errors accidentally into the text (start thinking that way and then the number of reads becomes infinite!) Next I wrote a review of Bei Dao's selected poems, even though I know no Chinese--a great handicap, I am afraid--and sent that off yesterday.

And now I doing a  last polish on The Foliate Head so that I can give the final version to Clive Hicks-Jenkins and Andrew Wakelin. Andrew designed Clive's two smashingly beautiful books for his 60th birthday retrospective at The National Library of Wales, Clive Hicks-Jenkins and The Book of Ystwyth: Six poets on the art of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, and now he is going to work with us out of the considerable goodness of his heart, using the Stanza Press template. So we are doing our own thing instead of relying on the press entirely. And that will be quite interesting and fruitful, I think. We do need to make it "look" like a Stanza Press book, but we can do our own version. I'm very glad that Pete Crowther asked me for a poetry manuscript, and that he and designer Mike Smith are letting us fool around with the book. Frolics ahead!

The division pages of foliate heads are already done (if you attended Clive's retrospective at The National Library of Wales, you may remember them.) Clive will also do a cover image. It will be a hardcover book with the image printed directly on smooth boards. Although Stanza is not an "artists' books" press, I think it will be a highly collectible item as well as beautiful.

The poems have all appeared somewhere or other, a great many of them by request--I like being asked, as I am lazy in the area of submission. Energetic elsewhere, but lazy there. I find it rather like laundry. You wash, you dry, you fold... Enough! It's done. Who feels like putting the stacks away?

The book is divided into three parts: Powers, The Book of Ystwyth, and The Green World. And it is made up of formal poems: narratives, lyrics, monologues, blank verse, sonnet, couplets, Burmese climbing rhyme, the form of Puck's Song, nonce forms, even a poem in Renaissance poulter's measure. Like contemplating the leafy energy of the world, strange powers, beauty (the poems I wrote for Clive's retrospective are here), and transformation? Then you may want one of these special little books-to-be!

4 comments:

  1. Can't wait to see the final result!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like another beautiful collaboration giving birth to another beautiful book!

    I just finished editioning a piece yesterday and, though thrilled with it, I'm exhausted. How about sharing some of your endless super energy this way, fairy Marly!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dave,

    Yes, every Clivean collaboration is worth a peek, isn't it? We are lucky!

    Albert,

    Thank you so much! Me too. It will be lovely, I am sure.

    marja-leena,

    Don't know if I'm blessed with super energy or whether I'm just unduly passionate!

    But my mother at 82 is weaving away and taking meals to "old folks" and just had stone steps put in so she can safely navigate steep portions of her mountains where she likes to garden. So I hope to keep some and be like her in that way--to be a wild old poet and storyteller when the time comes, if I should be so lucky...

    ReplyDelete

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.