- Glimmerglass 2014
- Thaliad 2012
- The Foliate Head 2012
- A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage 2012
- The Throne of Psyche 2011
- Val/Orson 2009
- Ingledove 2005
- Claire 2003
- The Curse of the Raven Mocker 2003
- The Wolf Pit 2001
- Catherwood 1996
- Little Jordan 1995
- Short stories and poems
- ☆ Events ☆
- Marly Youmans
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.
--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Art: on being asked
This morning I wrote a five-part sequence of poems in answer to a request for a poem on a very particular subject (also from this morning) from Makoto Fujimura for The Curator, a magazine of International Arts Movement. And I'm thinking about the power of asking--the power of a commission, whether paid or unpaid. Right now my friend Clive is going hammer-and-tongs in answer to a request to illustrate Stravinsky's The Soldiers Tale for a live performance, and you can page through the vigorous, bold results at his Artlog. He just finished fountaining-up images for my upcoming book, The Foliate Head. Why are requests so inspiring? I never use "prompts," although they appear to be quite popular if one can judge by the web. (I don't have anything against them; it just smacks of school and assignments to me, and I refused to let either have much to do with poems.) But a request is definitely a kind of effective prompt--a grand sort of prompt.
Is it because most art types (not musicians and singers, not dancers) are by necessity so solitary in our work, and in our dour, crazy moments fabulate that we are abysmally alone in the writing room or studio and nobody cares about our work (not that such an idea should matter a whit) or bothers to purchase and peruse it and so on? So that a sign of affection from the outside world has the ability to make one toss the "to do" list (however interesting, however pressing) straight over one's shoulder? I don't really think that's the answer... Not sure what is! Newness? Sparking a thought? Whimsical and rather irresponsible behavior? Whatever it is, I like it. Probably that's partly why I like The Lydian Stones. It's fun to ask.
Update: Clive's answer in the comments is more solid than my rather frivolous post!
* * *
WONDERING SOME MORE
While I was looking at The Curator--or maybe at the IAM site--I stumbled across a link to the most common five regrets of those in hospice or palliative care, as collected by a nurse. And I'm thinking about what my regrets would be, were I to tumble down the basement stairs (always a danger, as the dog bolts into me fairly frequently, and she is big, and I am not especially so) and land on my noggin this afternoon. If you feel like telling me yours, I might well tell you mine... if I figure them out. Still meditating the question. Update: Beth Adams responds.
AND A THIRD THING
Why is this post so very parenthetical in mode? Tell me that.