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

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Athanasius, Kamassian, etc.

One of the many vignettes by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
that decorate the pages of THALIAD.
Doves and cardinals, sparrows and juncos are puffed and perched in the rose canes, waiting for somebody to push through the snow and give them seed. Poor little fussers and cheepers, this Southern somebody is not quite ready for the cold world as yet. What am I doing instead?

Today I am going to a class on Athanasius. That should be strange and interesting. I have been reading in his life of St. Anthony and imagine some people will have fits over his casual disposing of the guardianship of his sister (and possessions that had belonged to their parents) and his desire for the complete abolition of all memory--not of, say, his knowledge of the faith but of his parents (and I suppose, his sister--highly convenient!) and the events of his prior life. Both efforts would appear profoundly odd to either a secular or a religious person in the 21st-century West, I imagine. One longs to know whether he succeeded and never dreamed of his mother bending over him when he was an old codger of 105, or had an unexpected memory of walking along a path by the river with his father--or felt a stab of panic about his sister, dropped in a convent.

This morning I am also reading Poetry of Asia: Five Millenniums of Verse from Thirty-three Languages, Beyond the Lyric: A Map of Contemporary British Poetry, and A Reader's Guide to William Butler Yeats. I was rereading Godric until I misplaced it yet again, so that rounded out a week of poetry and ascetics.

According to that book with all the numbers in the title, the entire known literature in the Kamassian language is a single folk poem. (What is Kamassian? "One of the Samoyed languages which with the Finno-Ugrian make up the Uralic family. The last community to use the language was discovered in 1914 at the confluence of the Yenisei and Angara rivers in central Siberia.") Appropriately, it's a lament about being unmoored from one's clan, the tents rotten and the ways overgrown.

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New vistors: I'm never quite sure what sort of attention one should pay to the hundreds of passers-by who go by the site daily and don't leave a message on facebook or twitter or in the comments. But if you would like to know more about my work, please check the tabs above for my 2012 books--A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (novel/Mercer/Ferrol Sams Award), The Foliate Head (collection of poetry/Stanza Press), and Thaliad (epic adventure in verse/Phoenicia)--and 2011's poetry collection, The Throne of Psyche. For the brand new Thaliad, the Phoenicia Publishing page for the book has a collection of review clips and comments and good help on how to order in hardcover or paperback. You may read samples from the three 2012 books at Scribd.

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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.