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, April 04, 2013

Owl, egg, and Raine

Clive Hicks-Jenkins decoration for Thaliad

I was so flooded with energy yesterday that I stayed up until precisely 3:19 writing an essay about masks and William Alexander's Goblin Secrets for the National Book Awards blog... I haven't done that in a while, though I did write one book that way when I was younger. Although I am naturally a night owl, my natural owlishness has been hampered by the need to get children out of bed very early in the morning. And now I have no doubt the essay is too long and will have to be cut. But I am feeling mild and pleasantly tired as a result.


I've promised a little essay on Kathleen Raine to Mezzo Cammin, so maybe I ought to go reread some Raine. Here she is at the Poetry Archive.
And another of his for The Foliate Head

Beginning again

Oddly or perhaps not so oddly, I've had a large number of conversations relating to the idea mentioned earlier that artists always begin from nothing--or from nothing but the created world--each time they begin a work. Writers and painters seem to find this compelling. We begin ab ovo, and sometimes we get a spoiled yolk, and sometimes we get Helen and fall into beauty pageants and the Trojan War.

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Meeting me elsewhere: excerpts from 2012 books (A Death at the White Camellia OrphanageThaliadThe Foliate Head) at ScribdThaliad at Phoenicia Publishing. (Thaliad is on sale during Poetry Month.) See page tabs above for review clips and information on those brand new books plus The Throne of Psyche from 2011, and more.


  1. I used to be a night owl, greeting the sun after a night of inspired writing, but now I'm older and simply cannot live that way. I do miss it, though.

    Your image of an egg hatching into The Iliad is quite fine.

  2. I wrote "The Wolf Pit" that way, staying up till 4:00 and getting up at 7:00. Ghastly by the end of the third month. I must have been mad. But I had been ill for a year, and we moved twice, and so I had not written anything for a very long time. Shan't do it again.

    Oh, thank you. Hmm. Maybe that is poem fodder. Shall have to think about it.

  3. "artists always begin from nothing" - hmm, that is food for thought! I'm not sure about the 'always'. Maybe sometimes from 'nothing', such as a bolt of lightning/inspiration... yet I think ideas and inspiration can emerge and grow from previous work in a continuing art practice. Not sure if I make sense....

    As an insomniac since my late 40's, I'm often a night owl not by choice, and rarely is it a creative time. In fact I feel terrible the next day.

  4. Just left a post on facebook that I feel discombobulated and sigodlin after my nap! And need one of Dave's Juniper-Yarrow Bitters...

    You're right, there's such a thing as a needle dipping in and out of the same cloth, one stitch leading to another. Though I suppose even that had its beginning, and before that, silence and emptiness.


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.