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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd

Overheard in Cooperstown:
When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd
Time: spring at very long last
Place: the smoking corner for health care workers

Generously-proportioned nurse seated on the curb near Mary Imogene Bassett Hospital, across from the Summers house: "What's with these purple flowers all over town?"

Chubsy-ubsy friend: I guess somebody planted them.

Note: The version I heard first was "purple shit." Later, I heard it again as above: cleaned-up version? Mis-remembered? Made a better story the first way.

"Ah Bartleby. Ah humanity." Or "Alas, poor Yorick." Something.

Alternative point of view on the subject from famous deceased author

“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.” --Iris Murdoch

Picture credit: R. B. Miller. Note the original to the Val/Orson cover/jacket directly behind my head. You can also note something editor John Wilson once said about me--that one side of my face looks like the nice woman behind you in the post office line, and the other side like a poet or a murderer. It's that wayward, bold eyebrow, I believe. The cracked look is emphasized by a little star of light on my glasses--or maybe it resides in my eye.
First week of Val/Orson

My lovely painting by Clive Hicks-Jenkns arrived from the Ystwyth Valley. We thought it had been lost, but whatever it was doing out there in Lala-Limpopo-Limboland of the International Postal Employees, it is now found. And has not even the slightest hint of bat crap, despite the batty Welsh studio in which it gestated.

And there are a number of blog posts about and reviews of the book. My old friend Robbi Nester (who I am pleased to say is four inches shorter than I am and so makes me feel like a model or a giraffe or maybe even a model giraffe or an extremely large giraffe model) wrote a piece on her blog, Shadow Knows. I can't offer it as a review because we know each other too well, but I recommend her blog, especially if you like to read about one woman's struggles with the Torah, weird-but-touching elderly parents, teaching and writing, and more. She also has been writing formal poems lately, some of which are on the blog, and likes to get comments on them.

"Somehow Youmans manages to tightrope along that margin between the real and the surreal in this book to create a tension that harkens back to classic fantasy novels like W.H. Hudson’s Green Mansions and the works of Jules Verne.... As always, Youmans’ writing is something beyond mere prose. It’s near-poetry." --Greg Langley, Baton Rouge Advocate, 24 May 2009

I was not allowed comic books as a child, but in sixth grade (way back when when comics could be found at the corner drugstore) I did have a Classic Comic of Green Mansions. Back then (way back then) I liked the book as well, but I especially loved Far Away and Long Ago. I read that one several times in childhood. Perhaps I ought to read it again and see if it was as wonderful as I thought way back when. Think I liked The Purple Land, too. Childhood: such a rich and horrible time!

"From the first chapter to the last, this novella delivers on all points." --Kelly Jensen, SF Crowsnest

Hey, and she liked "Rain Flower Pebbles" as well.

"Val/Orson is ambitious and multifaceted, definitely a literary read that is both faithful to the form and groundbreaking." --Charles Tan, Bibliophile Stalker

What next?

Well, let's see: braces for my youngest and in-laws and an overnight birthday party with rampaging boys! See you after.


  1. Marly, on the Val/Orson 'review' section you've missed an 'o' in the second paragraph. 'We've known each other to long'. I know you'll want to put that right. (And you may delete this message from the proof-reader too while you're at it!)

  2. that portrait of you is lovely

    hope you have a nice visit with the fam.

    I wanted to make a joke about me and spelling in ref to the above but I couldnt think on of one =)

  3. Whew. Just back from the orthodontist's in Oneonta. Lower teeth mold: raspberry. Upper teeth mold: watermelon. N said that the watermelon tasted better. It certainly perfumed the air.

    Ah, thank you, Clive. I don't mind admitting that I'm fallible... Quite.

    Miss O Susannah,

    Too early in the morning for jokes when you stopped by, perhaps.

    And now I must go back to my list of errands and appointments, but I shall stop by and see your shenanigans in the near future, or at least when company departs.

  4. What a terrific portrait of you, and the painting, what I see of it, is absolutely lovely. Glad to hear no bat shit materialized.
    By the way, speaking of doo-doo, I love the "purple shit." Yeah, know what you mean.
    I sent you the present versions of all those poems. The damn thing is I have to publish a book so I can get readers who signed up for the job.

  5. Robbi,

    Perhaps you ought to get to know people in the small press world around Irvine! Richard, too...

    Yes, you need to find your own niche. This is an awfully big country for a writer to navigate.

    The word verification feature is starting to read posts, I think. This one is "versessi." The condition of being luxuriant with verses?

  6. Well Marly... I am certainly getting around, talking to all the poets who are reading in the area. One of them might know someone who knows someone. And actually, I read fairly regularly at an open mic sponsored by a group with its own small press. But they haven't approached me as yet.

  7. But unfortunately, Richard isn't writing anymore. I don't know if he will do it again, or if he'll come back to it sometime. He has replaced that obsession with a number of others, such as harmonica and other assorted musical instruments, pool, and golf, as well as some sort of exercise routine, which has certainly toned him up.
    I miss his poetic company though.

  8. I'm departing until the in-laws and then many little boys go away!

    Richard was a very good poet. I am sorry. These times are not always good to poets. Or these times are often not good to good poets. Something.

  9. Greetings dear Marly,
    let me hear from you. Been sending e-mails but no reply?! May have wrong address on my new system, Hope all is well.
    Eileen St. Lauren

  10. Oops--answered elsewhere! I'm a bit behind on mail...

  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  12. Dear Sexy,

    Although I hated to remove all those lovely Chinese characters, I'm afraid that a long comment without a translation from "Sexy" struck me as slightly dubious.

    Good cheer,

  13. Oh, you do get interesting comments, don't you, Marly? Sexy???

    There is something about the smoking corner for healthcare workers that is just...wrong.

    Lilacs long ago gone out here, we are into the roses and poppies and geraniums.

    Finding a publisher (reading your friend Robbi)is difficult indeed these days. Well, for some of us.

    As I type I am noticing Susangalique's pretty face. I always read her name as Susanne-Angelique, and the picture is just that.

    Your photo too is lovely.

  14. Yes, Sexy in China. Or Taiwan. Or somewhere...

    The nurses' smoking curb is an interesting place and full of incongruities, most of them having to do with overweight and cigarettes.

    Yes, we're into roses now too. My Blanc de Courbet is looking marvelous, and all the rugosas. The Upstate is rugosa country. The Siberian iris are going well, and the Japanese ones coming on.

    Miss O Susannah has a pinch of spice and devilish humor with her angel, I think.

    Books... Definitely a hard time. Are there good presses around you, I wonder? You would have a lovely book of poems.

  15. I just spent the weekend immersed in ValOrson. Amazing how much I've been missing it now it's finished; you know that feeling: now there's that story and those people I need to get back to...and then you remember they're not there any more, they've dissolved into the forest mist whence they came! Which you rather presage in the way you end it.

    Thanks Marly for a wonderful read. And the cover paiting is gorgeous, it grew on me more and more as I read the book, it truly melds with the story.

  16. Ah, thanks, Lucy--

    I'm so glad it lingers for you! And I shall be sure and tell Clive what you said about the painting. It is a scrumptious-looking book.


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.