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

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Being culture-makers--

Creation, courtesy, and change

detail, "Maternity"
Mary Boxley Bullington

A possible delusional, middle-of-the-night post from the depths of the great tax-gathering night... Now my tax materials are sorted into little happy heaps. And the dog woke me after four hours of sleep. 

Here's a comment I left on a facebook thread Monday that relates to some current issues with publishing. I left it in response to a number of writers and readers who complained about people posting poems and images on the facebook pages of others without asking permission. 
I just imagine there is a lot of desperation around these days as people try to adapt or don't adapt to changes in the publishing/art world. Perhaps that feeling of being helpless in the grip of change overrides careful courtesy at times. I've never gotten quite so many requests as I have recently--requests from writers that I help a certain book in some way, or that I buy a copy of a certain book. When you know a lot of writers, you can't buy their every book, even if you exceed your book budget. Because of those requests, I recently started a book announcement/information site for friends and e-friends. In addition, I do think it's important to share work you find wonderful. We still see mainly the books that are anointed as lead books from publishers, and that is not very helpful to either readers or writers; the internet (with a bit of courtesy, one hopes!) can help make books visible.
Caring for culture

We need to "care for culture," as my friend Mako says. One thing caring for culture means is that we need to share work we find beautiful and meaningful, that we not allow it to be obliterated by the roaring tides of twilight and 50 shades of grey.

Really, we know that such a swamping of worthy art happens all the time.  We know that not many people care for culture, and that many beautiful things are lost or nearly lost in the tide of what's pushed by publishers and the media. There's nothing revolutionary about admitting what we know but mostly ignore.

But we all may be culture-builders if we allow ourselves to be so. Here in the age of the internet, we can wrest the making of our culture from those who would use it for primarily material ends. And isn't that a revolution, a turning away from a lesser thing and toward a better one?

We can battle against the promotion of drek by lauding what is beautiful and true and valuable to the human heart. We can ourselves share what is a good and living art, and not a handful of dead leaves and maggots. In this way, we can bring our world closer to the heart's desire.

"Maternity" by painter Mary Boxley Bullington,
a friend of mine from long-ago college days


  1. True words Marly, and Mary's images are a lovely accompaniment.

  2. Miss Mary B is full of the energy of creation!


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.