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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Next reading and Hollins Critic review clip

The Village Library reading: 6 p.m., Tuesday April 25th

From The Hollins Critic review

Seren of the Wildwood is a magical book, a visionary journey through motherhood and the rebellious, unwieldy life-force of the universe. It includes equally magical cover art and interior illustrations by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who frequently illustrates Youmans's books. The publisher's web page says that "Wiseblood Books fosters works of fiction, poetry, and philosophy that find redemption in uncanny places and people." Indeed they do.  

--Amanda Cockrell, The Hollins Critic, Vol. LX, no. 2, April 2023.

Marly in a hat, 2023

Monday, April 10, 2023

More review clips for Seren of the Wildwood

Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins


Youmans’ gift for creating primordial archetypal images that stir the gut and fascinate the eye of the mind places her among the best of the poets. If you’re a connoisseur, even a lapsed or dilatory one, of narrative poetry, buy Seren of the Wildwood and read it today...

What is particularly impressive about Youmans’ weaving is her ability to use such venerable archetypes freshly. Yes, I’ve met them all before, and given time I could tell you where... The same with the landmarks and inhabitants of Youmans’ Wildwood; they seem hauntingly familiar yet disconcertingly strange. Her power simultaneously to defamiliarize and reenchant is enviable and deliciously enjoyable...

My first encounter with Seren of the Wildwood brought to mind dozens of my favourite poems, poems that over the millennia people have taken the trouble to read, copy, annotate, memorise, and perform. Seren of the Wildwood reminded me of them by way of family resemblance; the poem is at home among the poems that last. It is a good poem. A very good poem.  

--Seth Wright, Front Porch Republic, 10 April 2023; read the long, thoughtful essay HERE


Marly Youmans, in Seren of the Wildwood, now available from Wiseblood Books, offers a vivid fantasy. I will call it that even though the word fantasy appears several times in the story in its meaning of something untrue, a hallucination or deceptive visionary experience. And well it might—although by the end we witness a wonderful transformation of the idea of fantasy—for deceptive visionary experience sets the plot in motion. An invisible creature whom the young girl Seren (Welsh for “star”) names Ariel lures her into the Wildwood, on whose border she lives with her parents. She had two older brothers, but they died just as Seren was born: it is suggested by the narrator a curse emanating from someone in the Wildwood sickened them. 

Youmans’s command of the poetic form is masterful, and a superb choice for fantasy, invoking as it does one of the great medieval fantasists in English.  

--Jonathan Geltner, "The Spirit of Fantasy and the Sense of Place," Slant Books, 6 March 2023: read this interesting essay HERE

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Two novelists on Seren

Beth Garst of Howl'n Dog Designs
reads Seren on a Virginia porch swing...


I was given a review copy of Seren and couldn’t put it down. It’s lyrical and magical and offers a glimpse of the places usually seen only from the corner of the eye. --novelist Amanda Cockrell

(Amanda Cockrell assigned a review for The Hollins Critic: out soon!)

* * *


...The reader is struck by two things almost immediately. First, the sheer imagination of this work is marvelous. It’s an engaging, enthralling story, part epic, part fairy tale, part Iliad and part Odyssey. It’s the story of a girl who, through no fault of her own, finds herself an actor in an unexpected drama.

The second striking thing is the discipline that’s required to write a work like this. You don’t write 61 poems of 21 ten-syllable lines each followed by a five-line rhyming coda without determination, focus, the self-confidence that you’ll finish it, and even courage to undertake it in the first place.

Simply put, Seren of the Wildwood dazzles while it provokes fundamental questions. Is life simply what’s fated for us, or are we free agents? How do we deal with guilt? How do we accept the responsibilities thrust upon us? How do we live during this perilous journey called life?

...The work is illustrated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, a Welsh artist/illustrator who’s worked with Youmans on all but one of her book covers. He’s illustrated several books for Simon Armitage, the current British Poet Laureate, and also the forthcoming translation of Beowulf by Seamus Heaney for the Folio Society.

Seren of the Wildwood is one of the most imaginative works I’ve read, and especially in poetry. It’s the kind of work that you know is changing you as you read it, and you emerge from it as not quite the same person you were before. It’s not unlike what happens to Seren on her journey through the wildwood.  

--Novelist Glynn Young, "Marly Youmans has written a marvelous epic story." Read more HERE.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A writer and an artist respond to Seren

Seren, by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
from Seren of the Wildwood
(Wiseblood Books, 2023, hc/pb)


Marly Youmans’s verse-narrative Seren of the Wildwood is a bildungsroman or coming-of-age tale about a young girl named Seren, told in the archetypal-dream language of a fairy tale. Seren experiences the universal realities of the loss of innocence through trauma and betrayal, of the self individuating from the matrix of childhood, of sexual awakening and childbirth, and of finding a relationship to the world via a journey into the ambiguous world of nature, dreams, and encounters with various characters both benevolent and duplicitous. 

I won’t give the story away by describing the details of its plot, so let’s just say that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Seren during her adventures is not in the Kansas of routine life anymore. The characters and the woodland creatures and plants that Seren encounters in Wildwood are either supernatural or natural or both. Fairy tales or myths are stories that take place in the imagination, a middle world between the material and the intellectual ones, where meanings become images and images meanings, and this is where Youmans sets her story. Wildwood is the world of imagination, the inner life of the outer world.       --Poet, translator, essayist Andrew Frisardi


...what’s moved me most is Marly Youmans latest “ Seren of the Wildwood “ handsomely published by Wiseblood Books. Marly’s fairytale ( beautifully illuminated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins) weaves a complexity of archetypes and sensations , one recalls the lays of Chrétien, Rossetti’s “Goblin Market," the psychoanalytic work of Melanie Klein. Youmans, in her telling this tale explained to me the ambivalence Grendel’s mother must have felt for her challenging offspring. It’s a rich story, one I recommend highly; so rich in fact that I needed to place my impressions upon paper, which follows in the second image. Marly is a gifted visionary, her many published works reflect her unique talents, in “Seren” she presents a tale of no particular time or place, magical yet not absurdist, familiar yet surprising. Wiseblood Books has a convenient site to order from, a range of many attractive offerings (which I’ve already been tempted and eagerly await arrival), to those liminally inclined, I suggest a visit, you will not be disappointed.     --Artist Leonard D. Greco of L.A. and Chicago

Response to Seren of the Wildwod
from artist Leonard D. Greco

And there are many new images on social media as well...