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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mezzo Cammin, again--

New poems--"The Fool and the Owl" from The Book of the Red King manuscript, "Self-portrait as Meadow," and "Hurdler, Age 12"--are up at Kim Bridgford's wonderful Mezzo Cammin.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Box Elder on Camellia Orphanage

Lucy Kempton of Box Elder on A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage:  "It is a stunning book; both cruel and tender, dark and light, but always shot through and stitched with a powerful beauty. Poetry, character and narrative never get in each other's way, but create a compelling fusion. The rich period detail from the lives of the rail-riding hobos to the coloured print of a woman's dress is riveting, not merely research tacked-on for authenticity, as it can seem to be, but real and known and tangible. Beyond a nodding acquaintance, I'm not steeped in the literature of the American south and of the Depression era, so my mind doesn't reach for parallels and comparisons, which I'm rather glad of, reading the novel for what I think it is, something fresh and remarkable." For more, go here.


North Carolina touring done, and I am at last home after a long drive. On Saturday I had a grand time reading a chapter from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage at McIntyre's in Fearrington, answering questions, and even reading a few requested poems. Afterward had lunch with writer friend Marjorie Hudson (Accidental Birds of the Carolinas - PEN Hemingway Honorable Mention) and some of her students. And I spent Sunday night in Roanoke with longtime friend, painter Mary Boxley Bullington. Good night!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Another step + "Auric Hour"

After lunch with the grand Louis D. Rubin, Jr., I have moved on to Pittsboro and enjoyed a Friday evening of Susan Ketchum singing and Marjorie Hudson reading from Accidental Birds of the Carolinas (honorable mention for the PEN Hemingway.) Lovely counterpoint.

Reading from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage at McIntyre's (Fearrington Village / Pittsboro) at 11:00 a.m.  So goodnight, all!

New poem up: "The Auric Hour" (written in memory of Alton Van Cleef) at String Poet.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Last reading from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage in North Carolina this year: 11:00 a.m. Saturday, May 26th, McIntyre's Books at Fearrington Village, Pittsboro.

Lovely evening last night with interesting Chapel Hillites, including friends in the realm of the arts--a poet, a writer, an artist. Collected the requisite mosquito bites in the garden and enjoyed good company and good paintings and good food. North Carolina is always a delightful place to tour for me!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

"I'm mad, you're mad, we're all mad..."

The Countess and Excelsior take Pip in after he's been beaten senseless, a state Youmans describes in ways that force contagion. Pip's is a harrowing delirium, much like his migraine auras, both of which we're made to feel and reel from. I have not read another writer who so perfectly captures in words the scary wiles of brain activity suddenly gone awry. Youmans speaks into experience that unspeakable disequilibrium.  --from Linda McCullough Moore's review 

Last North Carolina reading from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage: Saturday, May 26th at 11:00 a.m., McIntyre's (Fearrington Village / Pittsboro.)

Flyleaf in the rain...

Thanks to Jamie Fiocco and Flyleaf Books for a lovely reading (from both A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage and The Throne of Psyche) last night--I had so much fun that I completely forgot to take a picture... And I had the pleasure of writers-and-artist in attendance: Laura Frankstone of Laurelines, Jeffery Beam, Lauren Winner (with Emily Hylden, hurrah!), Erica Eisdorfer (with family in tow), and the ever-elegant Elizabeth Spencer (who pointed out that she came out in the rain for me--thank you, Elizabeth!) And I saw Leslie Jaffe and many other people out of my past in Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as Connie Leddicote who was part of a week's class at NCCAT in Cullowhee. Quite a hugfest.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Triangulation, y'all--

I'm back in the Triangle (after another brief stay in the mountains), reading from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage and The Throne of Psyche tonight at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 7:00 p.m. See new review below...

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lovely Books and Culture review

A long and magnificent review of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage by writer Linda McCullough Moore at Books and Culture, edited by that great bookman, John Wilson.

A taste: Which brings us—not before time—to Marly Youmans, whose new novel A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage is literary fiction at its finest. (Tell me you didn't see that coming.) Here is fiction which required the writer to reinvent language, engage magic and mystery with every commonplace of living, explore the whys and wherefores of human understanding, and enlarge the boundaries of what it's good to think about and know. Here is fiction which requires the reader to take it slow, to savor, bask and meditate, to revel, and to laugh aloud and cry. Another:  But what Pip does with all his might-have-beens and what he does with what-just-is is lovely to behold. What Youmans does with only words is beautiful to see.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mole notes

Poet Dale Favier has been reading A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage and making notes about it as he goes on his blog, mole.  Now he has put all the comments together as a lovely fat Amazon note. I enjoyed reading it very much!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

On the road & a new review--

Thanks to books editor Greg Langley at The Baton Rouge Advocate for this morning's new review, tracing the path of a Pip who by the end of the book "is not yet out of his teens, young and beautiful and already a thousand years old." He writes that "Youmans tells Pip’s story in her lyric, poetic voice, offering readers vivid characters and unforgettable scenery. The tragedy that begins the story is almost lost in the general misery that was the Great Depression, but the fire of memory burns steadily in Pip and keeps the plot simmering to the end of the book."

It's 6:00 a.m. in Statesville, North Carolina, where I just spent the night with a high school classmate and her husband, pastor at New Salem Methodist. I think this is the first time I have ever been asked to visit a Sunday School class on my book travels! The prior few nights I spent with my friend's older sister and her husband in Raleigh, where I also saw more high school friends. I am midway in my North Carolina events and will be heading back to Cullowhee for a few days before going to Chapel Hill and Pittsboro for more readings.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Another lovely event, this time at Quail Ridge in Raleigh. Went out to dinner with high school classmates, a former neighbor, and spouses. And am having brunch with the same before dashing off to Salisbury and an afternoon signing and meet-and-greet at Literary Bookpost...

Friday, May 18, 2012

Lovely reading at City Lights on Wednesday. Yesterday I drove to Raleigh and then visited a book club; tonight is another reading at Quail Ridge Books. 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Head of steam!

Having a mad day: just found out that I need to add eight pages to The Foliate Head (poetry book forthcoming in the UK from Stanza Press) for printer's reasons... So Clive, Andrew, and I are scrambling. However, I must rush because I have a reading from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage tonight at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina at 6:30, and afterward I go to dinner with my twin cousins, my mother, and my high school English teacher. In the morning I pop out of bed with my magically-packed clothes and gear and dash off to Raleigh, where I have a reading on Friday. Loll about for me, will you?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

from Quail Mail #638

From Nancy [Olson, owner of Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, NC]:

Occasionally I read a new work of fiction that blows me away, and Marly Youman's A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer $24) did just that. Every page in this book resonates with beautifully crafted language, a "universal melody that sings of deep loss and conciliation," and a moving story of a young boy, who after the death of his beloved younger brother, takes to the rails in Depression-era America. I agree with one reviewer that said this is destined to be an American classic. Come meet Marly at QRB on Friday, May 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Goodreads Giveaways (24) last chance!

Read chapter one at Scribd ; visit the book page; see the facebook pagetry for the Goodreads giveaway of 24 books, April 15-May 15, ending in less than a day; find the Amazon  hardcover ebook or indie books search;  order from Mercer.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage by Marly Youmans

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage

by Marly Youmans

Giveaway ends May 15, 2012.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Sylva Herald & City Lights

Maggie Tobias writes about A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage in the Sylva Herald: reading at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 16th at City Lights Bookstore, Sylva.

Read chapter one at Scribd ; visit the book page; see the facebook pagetry for the Goodreads giveaway of 24 books, April 15-May 15; find the Amazon  hardcover ebook or indie books search;  order from Mercer.

Friday, May 11, 2012

At an Angle

A delayed post: clearly written a few days ago.

Waking, I remembered that the marvelous Maurice Sendak died yesterday. Amazing that the planet can go on without his curmudgeonly verdicts and masterful strokes of brush and pen.

His was a life that mattered to many in the world of books and theatre and bedtime reading. I shall have to hunt up my beloved The Juniper Tree and have a little mental confab with the man. So many wonderful collaborations-on-paper (Ruth Krauss, Randall Jarrell, George MacDonald, and many more) and lovely Sendak books remain.

Janet Kenny and Philip Quinlan's new magazine Angle launched today--please download and browse and read. Thanks to the editors for asking to see some of my poems! The first issue is packed full of interesting poets from all over the world, united in the love for form and sound. I have several poems in the new enterprise; here's a bit from the start of each:

The Substance

Fine as a ring-stole drawn through a hoop
Of gold, but crimped and burned
And almost ruined by some fire

Ship of Trees

Nails tingle in boards, freezing in the grain,
And the whole house struggles to conjure some
Swaying rootedness, rampire and bulwark

"The Fool Glimpses the City," "Lumen Hour," "Because I Pass I Pass," and "To Make Much of Time" will be in the second issue, winter 2012/2013.

Links for the new novel, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage: Pinterest page for the book; read chapter one at Scribd ; visit the book page; see the facebook pagetry for the Goodreads giveaway of 24 books, April 15-May 15; find the Amazon  hardcover ebook or indie books search; order from Mercer.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mole & Pip

Thanks to Dale Favier for continuing to meditate on A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage on his blog as he moves through the book. I liked what he had to say from the start, as in his contrast with Faulkner--that in the book fullness, not emptiness is behind all things. His blog, mole, is wonderfully full of what Melville called deep diving and new poems. His latest Pip comment: It takes a long slow weary time to become human, for some of us. I preach the Church of the Bitter End and the news of your guilt, boy. I'm loving Marly's White Camelia: the story of Pip's slow coming-to-humanity cuts close to the bone, for me. 

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Pinning "A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage"

Joyce Dixon suggested I do a Pinterest page especially for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, and so I have started one with 20 pins. (I love the little boy with rickets!) For giveaway information and other links for the book, please look at the foot of the prior post.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Cover, "The Foliate Head"

The Foliate Head, with a wealth of images by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
and marvelous design work by Andrew Wakelin.
Forthcoming from Stanza Press in the UK.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Foliate / Death

Probably I shouldn't bother to post today because Clive Hicks-Jenkins has put such a long, interesting recollection of our first acquaintance in the comments of the last post that it is bound to be more appealing than whatever I could possibly write! Clive and Andrew Wakelin are currently in cahoots on the interior and cover designs for The Foliate Head (UK: Stanza Press), and I can say is that it is going to be astonishingly beautiful. I've seen a version of both, but they are still tweaking, and the book of poetry and with its green man illustrations grows more marvelous by the instant. It has a color head on front and back with many black-and-whites inside. Lovely, lovely, and yet again lovely! 

Roiphe has driven a car for the first time with Pip as passenger; Roiphe's mother, Lil, is standing out in the Georgia dirt yard, unfastening the pin curls set around her head. Alden, Roiphe's younger brother (or younger bother) is close by.

“Mommer, would you go comb your hair?  You look like a medusa.”  Roiphe climbed out of the car, staggering a little as if the ground were a foreign medium.
            Her fingers moved nimbly around her head, collecting the crooked pins into a small dark sheaf, which she bound with a rubber band and dropped into her apron pocket.  “You could have been killed, the pair of you, or landed in the county jail with a pack of misfits.  Roiphe Tattnal, you don’t know the least thing about driving, no more than a fresh-laid egg.”
            “He does now.  The boy proved himself a driver of ingenuity and downright verve.”  Pip clambered from the passenger seat and leaned for support against the side of the auto.  He was not sure he could walk away yet, having recently been startled by a close call with a straggle of cows in the lane. 
“Lil, that was a dadgum shattering experience, but I believe—I truly believe that he could have done a powerful sight more if he had put his unthrottled genius into the thing.  If he survives, Roiphe Tattnal has some kind of a future in transportation.”  With a wrench, Pip yanked a bushel basket off a headlamp and surveyed it.
            “First man on the moon,” Alden crowed.
            “First idiot on the moon, more like.  Y'all better pluck those chicken feathers off the front before Mr. Louis sees it,” Lil advised.  “That’s all I’ve got to say.”
            “Would that it were.”  Roiphe rolled his eyes dramatically.  “All,” he added in case she had not understood.
            “I got your drift, bud.”  She started combing her hair out with her fingers. 
            “Pip wants to ride out to the cemetery,” Roiphe announced.
            Lil gave her brother a quick glance, half screened by hair, and then turned back.
            “Is that so,” she said, no hint of a question in her words.

Please don't forget that the Goodreads giveaway of 24 copies of the novel ends on the 15th, so sign up!

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
Read chapter one at Scribd 
See the book page
See the new facebook page

Goodreads giveaway, April 15-May 15

Amazon hardcover and ebook
Indie bookstore search
Buy direct from Mercer

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Celtic, Celtic--

Here's a peep at a division page for The Foliate Head from the Artlog of Clive Hicks-Jenkins; if you jump there, you may view Andrew Wakelin at work on the design for the book in the very room where I stayed when I traveled to Wales a year ago and enjoyed long wonderful days at Ty Isaf, reveling in Clive's beautifully-arranged world and all the festivities for his 60th birthday retrospective at Gregynog Gallery of The National Library of Wales. How the wind whistled up the stairs when the doors were flung open, all the way to Clive's studio at the top! If you take a look at Andrew, you'll see the enormous curtainless windows that woke me to the morning and green views of the garden and hills.

I'm looking forward to the promised view today. Everything Andrew and Clive touch in the way of books grows beautiful.

Last night I attended the Otschodela Council of Boy Scouts "Silver Beaver" award banquet in Oneonta--doesn't that sound strange?--as my husband is a scoutmaster and has been involved with scouting a long time. It turned out to be oddly touching. I always find events like annual dance recitals or crossing-over ceremonies or rural graduations to tug at the heartstrings because it is so lovely to live for a long time in one place and see children growing up and turning into young women and men. But this sort of ceremony, where you see aging men (silver at the crown, with tummies snug in Scouting regalia!) and a good number of women rewarded for many decades of work with children, can also have its moments of surprise and unexpected feeling.

More, the featured entertainment was Celtic and a great surprise: someone I knew as a young teen played a marvelous pipes concert. A few years ago, the Scotia-Glenville bagpipe band (of which Robby Schafsteck and his brother were then teen members) won third place in the Hazelhead Shield Novice Juvenile Pipe Band Championship at the world bagpipe championships in Glasgow--evidently the first time for the award to leave Scotland. Now he is a handsome young man with a proper kilt, bear-fur sporran, and hose-and-gillies!

Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Foliate Head

That image? One of many heads tossed off by Clive Hicks-Jenkins in his joyful fooling with ideas for The Foliate Head. Andrew Wakelin and Clive are now playing with the design of the book. I am eager to see it, and thank Pete Crowther of Stanza Press (UK) for requesting a manuscript of poetry. Alas, I've realized that I neglected to ask for comments, being so busy with A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. And I even had an offer for one! I shall have to use quotes from the 2011 book and note them as such, I believe.

Yesterday's note:  I have Clive Hicks-Jenkins on the brain, as we were just emailing about cover images for a forthcoming poetry book, The Foliate Head (Stanza Press, UK). And you should have him on the brain, too, because he has curated a marvelous 5-post show of moveable maquettes at his Artlog. Go there for surprise and wonder!

Also: Please slide down to the next post for links to news on A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, the Goodreads giveaway of 24 copies (a mere 314 signed up so far, so you have a good chance at a copy), the first chapter at Scribd, etc.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Morning reading--

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage
Read chapter one at Scribd 
See the book page
See the new facebook page

Goodreads giveaway, April 15-May 15: 
a generous 24 copies from Mercer - please sign up!

Amazon hardcover and ebook
Indie bookstore search
Buy direct from Mercer

By mid-morning, I had helped one teenage boy with homework, done a phone interview on the new novel, attacked the laundry, and rambled about the internet for a few minutes. As I must go down into the household mine and chip some rock, I leave you with a few quotes from my internet walkabout.

Catie Disabato at Full Stop, on genre and "literary" fictionCaroline Leavitt is even quoted as saying “I’ve decided genre is strictly a marketing tool.”  She’s wrong, but she means well. Leavitt seems to actually mean that genre fiction isn’t that far off from literary fiction and the border between them is hazy if not artificial and at least partially created in a marketing meeting – if I’m right about Leavitt’s intention, then I agree with her point wholeheartedly. Genre isn’t just a marketing tool – it’s a literary tradition that has thrived longer than the modern construct of “literary” fiction – and when genre is treated as a marketing tool, that tradition is wrongly disregarded. 

D. G. Myers on the novel at Commentary: The tradition of the novel includes mysteries, fantasies, science fiction, romances, horror, even Westerns. The question is not to what subgenre a book belongs. The question is whether it is any good. And if it is good only according to the conventions of a subgenre, and not in the larger tradition of the novel, then it is not any good at all.
Literary fiction — or what the British novelist Linda Grant has taken to calling LitFic — ought to be a haughty way of saying “good fiction.” But that’s not how the term is used. What, then, is it? Easy. Literary fiction (like 98.5% of poetry these days) is written by and for the entrenched bureaucracy of the creative writing faculty in the universities. There is good fiction, there is bad fiction, and there is fiction written in creative writing workshops.

Marjorie Perloff at Boston Review, making me suspicious that my world is a changeling world:  If “creative writing” has become as formulaic as I have been suggesting, then perhaps it is time to turn to what Kenneth Goldsmith calls “uncreative writing.” Tongue-in-cheek as that term is, increasingly poets of the digital age have chosen to avoid those slender wrists and wisps of hair, the light that is always “blinding” and the hands that are “fidgety” and “damp,” those “fingers interlocked under my cheekbones” or “my huge breasts oozing mucus,” by turning to a practice adopted in the visual arts and in music as long ago as the 1960s—appropriation. Composition as transcription, citation, “writing-through,” recycling, reframing, grafting, mistranslating, and mashing—such forms of what is now called Conceptualism, on the model of Conceptual art, are now raising hard questions about what role, if any, poetry can play in the new world of instantaneous and excessive information.
The main charge against Conceptual writing is that the reliance on other people’s words negates the essence of lyric poetry. Appropriation, its detractors insist, produces at best a bloodless poetry that, however interesting at the intellectual level, allows for no unique emotional input. If the words used are not my own, how can I convey the true voice of feeling unique to lyric?

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Southern Serves the South

A snip from A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (Mercer University Press - The Ferrol Sams Award for Fiction, 2012):  Beside the rails, Pip drew himself to his utmost height, balancing on his bare toes, feeling the coming palsy of earth in his feet and legs as the locomotive bored forward through the molasses-heavy afternoon, tearing away the tethers of sleepiness that held the town until, like the suddenly-freed inhabitants of a pent-up anthill, men spilled from stores and children skipped to the brink of the rails and a woman in a local milliner’s hat that resembled something grown on a tree, fungal and yellow and decorated with green piping like a caterpillar parade, rushed full tilt toward the station, her husband carrying a shiny silk bag that was not a valise but would do.
            The metal face of the train with its bright Cyclopean eye and its smokebox and clanging bell thrust itself into Pip’s sight, and again he was as astonished as if he had never seen such a vision in all his born days and forgot everything but the hurtle and rising aria of the train that made his own chant seem silly and childish.  He did an awkward half-split, jumbling his hands in the air.  The monster took no notice but plunged, vaulted, and dived over the slight rolls of the land, shaking the earth as easily as a hound shakes a kitten, spewing cinders and smoke, drive wheels pounding and somersaulting over Emanuel County, so swift and thunderous that it seemed nothing in the world could cry halt! to such an extravagance of force.  High as a house, the engine swooped down on Pip, hissing and hooting in his face, in his very being, turning him inside out, ringing him like a bell.  The sun clanged in the sky, the earth quaked, and the pistons of the train shot out steam as they rhythmically proclaimed the company motto—Southern Serves the South, Southern Serves the South, Southern Serves the South.  Who could stand against such a beast or rein it in?  But there they were, the aloof, cool kings of the cinder-trail, the fireman and engineer, as calm as if they had not been handling the mysteries of coal and power and locomotion but had been helping set up a board table under a rustling tree, getting ready for a Sunday supper after church.
            Brakes sparked the air, and the long squeal of metal against metal signaled a stop as boxcars and tank cars and engines and caboose swayed on the tracks, straining at couplings.  It was like trying to keep a town on a steep hillside from plunging pell-mell into avalanche; like holding down an epileptic string of stores and houses that were starting to seize.  The whole long street of the train wanted to crash together with a roar and a magnificent smash-up and a Jericho clash like ten-thousand cymbals.  The cars wanted to roll sideways, doors shooting open, hobos cannonading circus-style through the air, and those riding the rods beneath the boxcars screaming bloody murder as the brakes screeched and let off fireworks.  

Read chapter one at Scribd 
See the book page
See the new facebook page

Goodreads giveaway, April 15-May 15: 
a generous 24 copies from Mercer - please sign up!

Amazon hardcover and ebook
Indie bookstore search
Buy direct from Mercer

Wednesday, May 02, 2012


The day is perking along: got up and ran to voice lesson to sing Cesar Franck's Panis Angelicus, nabbed a piece of birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday; and raced back through dewy Cooper Park for the first conference call with The National Book Award judges for young people's literature. And it all went easily: we're all so nice and agreeable! Now I must drag out the grindstone and firm up my travel plans for North Carolina events, and send marketing materials here and yon, and maybe start working on more New York events before I fly off to a track meet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

“Little low heavens”

Please scroll down to the next post for links to A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, today's final chance for a Mercer discount on The Throne of Psyche, 24 Goodreads giveaways, and more.

Dear Diary,
Started the day by shouting French words at child no. 3 while he showered, took him to school (yes, he missed that big yellow bus), and zipped back in time for tea with my husband--afterward we got out a mirror and looked in the robin's nest on the top of the front door frame. Four lovely eggs in the shade of blue so lovely that it became a name.

Clive James at The Poetry Foundation: Any poem that does not just slide past us like all those thousands of others usually has an ignition point for our attention. To take the most startling possible example, think of “Spring,” by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Everyone knows the first line because everyone knows the poem. “Nothing is so beautiful as Spring” is a line that hundreds of poets could have written, and was probably designed to sound that way: designed, that is, to be merely unexceptionable, or even flat. Only two lines further on, however, we get “Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens” and we are electrified. I can confidently say “we” because nobody capable of reading poetry at all could read those few words and not feel the wattage. Eventually we see that the complete poem is fitting, in its every part, for its task of living up to the standards of thought and perception set by that single flash of illumination.