Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Friday, May 13, 2005

Chickens at the Palace

Elaine, Queen of Copy Editors, has read my news page and sent the following item from The New York Times. Here's an opportunity of considerable curiosity to people who have made a rash pact involving chickens:

Fruita, Colo.
When: May 20-21
Why: Fans of all things chicken can do no better than the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival in Fruita, just 13 miles outside of Grand Junction. In honor of a chicken who, so the story goes, lived without a head for 18 months starting in 1945, the festival includes a chicken recipe contest, an eating contest, a chicken dance contest, a frozen chicken football game and, of course, plenty to eat. See for more.

My husband is also Mike, but he is not a chicken. Nor is he a Youmans. Especially he is not the mysterious possibly-remote-cousin Mike Youmans who occasionally sends me mail from Elizabeth Spencer; she always gets my email address wrong. How did Mike Youmans know my real address? What does he think about writers hijacking his mailbox? Why chickens? Why Mike the chicken? Why would this notice appear on Friday the 13th?

These are things that remain imponderable.

I have a general chicken thing going with her Royal Highness, Elaine, and I also have a chicken pact (heretofore mentioned) with writer Howard Bahr. Elaine has sent me several chicken books, and I am suitably grateful. Howard, meanwhile, has sent recordings of his neighbor's chickens. I listened to them over breakfast, and they made me nervous and gave me indigestion. And then I misplaced them. (Lucky for me, Howard is mostly allergic to the web and will never know.) However, I am still keeping the chicken pact. Can't recall, though: did I remember to put a chicken in Ingledove? Could I be mad enough to forget?

Yes, a woman with three children could forget anything and often does.

Now I will be worried until I find that chicken. Surely there is a chicken scratching about underfoot in the scene with Sally, the moustachioed mountain woman. If not, I will have to pencil one in.

* * *

In case you need to learn something anatomical, useful, or strange about chickens: Ingledove has the Witchmaster; the ruler of this little web coop calls himself the Chickenmaster.

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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.