Writer Jeff Sypeck friended me yesterday in the curious realm of Twitter, and today I find a lovely, long post about Thaliad on his blog, Quid plura? Here's a slice from the introduction:
But if we [Americans] don’t currently have an epic, the people who will live here someday may. That’s the premise of Marly Youmans’ eerie and beautiful Thaliad, a 24-book poem about seven children who survive a fiery apocalypse—and how one of them becomes the founding matriarch of a lakeside tribe in upstate New York.Please have a read, as Jeff Sypeck sees the book clearly and has fine things to say, concluding:
Recounted 67 years later by Emma, a teenaged librarian who roves the wastes with sword and gun in search of unrescued books, the Thaliad fuses several out-of-vogue elements—formalist verse, narrative poetry, classical epic—to a familiar science-fiction trope. What grows from this grafting is a weird, fresh, magical thing: the story of a new world rooted in the ingenuity and optimism of ”one who / Was ordinary as a stone or stem / Until the fire came and called her name.”
If they’re willing to take a chance, fantasy and science-fiction fans and even the “young adult” crowd might all find much to love here. The Thaliad is rare proof that verse need not be difficult or obscure—and that even now, narrative poetry can still leave readers, like Thalian children eyeing strangers in their orchard, “[e]nchanted into stillness by surprise.”As there are a great many writers in the world, and I am busy with a great many things (three children and so on) other than books, I somehow have missed the wisdom of Jeff Sypeck until now! He is the author of Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A. D. 800, the new Looking Up: Poems from the National Cathedral Gargoyles, and a translation of a Middle Scots poem, The Tale of Charlemagne and Ralph the Collier. Doesn't that sound like a fascinating mix? And his bog seems full of intriguing posts. I am infinitely grateful to him for writing about Thaliad.
2. MORE LIGHT FOR THALIAD
Clive Hicks-Jenkins, the artist who decked Thaliad in her fabulous artwear, has gathered up some facebook comments from novelist-illustrator-graphic-novelist James A. Owen and made them into a post at his Artlog. They focus on Thaliad, and I would never have been so bold and cheeky as to gather them and share, but I am glad that he did. James Owen had some spectacular things to say about the book. See the comments at the Artlog.