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, May 08, 2013

Glass-paper work--

The first recorded instance of sandpaper was in 13th century China when crushed shells, seeds, and sand were bonded to parchment using natural gum. Shark skin was also used as a sandpaper. The rough scales of the living fossil Coelacanth are used by the natives of Comoros as sandpaper. Boiled and dried, the rough horsetail is used in Japan as a traditional polishing material, finer than sandpaper. Sandpaper was originally known as glass paper, as it used particles of glass. Glass frit has sharp-edged particles and cuts well; sand grains are smoothed down and did not work well like sandpaper made from glass. --"Sandpaper," Wikipedia
Though called (by those small but terrible singing voices that emerge from the laundry room and car keys and weedy garden beds) to child-ferrying and doing laundry and gardening this morning, I have also been polishing some poems in The Book of the Red King. I have an interested publisher but am not ready to show the whole thing, partly because the poems poured out so quickly and in such numbers that I almost feel that some of them are strangers to me. But the main issue is that I've been so busy for the past year that I have for the most part ignored revising and weeding out poems in favor of writing new pieces.

And after polishing is done--sometimes to smooth, sometimes to roughen--I must figure out the shape that the sequence will make. Right now I plan to use some sort of alchemical structure as an ordering device, but I am afraid that early parts of the sequence will be too dark if I am very strict about that. Is that off-putting? I'm afraid it would be. Perhaps a series of alchemical transformations is better as a framework--a pattern rather than an over-arching plan. Or perhaps something else entirely will emerge, as the poems are governed by character and narrative to a degree unusual in our day.


Marly, recent and elsewhere:
  • Thaliad's adventure in verse, with art by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins (Montreal: Phoenicia, 2012) here and here 
  • The Foliate Head's collection of poems with art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, Stanza Press (UK) here
  • A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage (novel) from Mercer University Press (ForeWord 2013 finalist in the general fiction category; The Ferrol Sams Award, 2012) here
  • The Throne of Psyche, collection of formal poetry from Mercer, 2011, here
  • Samples from my 2011-12 books at Scribd.
  • See tabs above for information on individual books, including review clips.

2 comments:

  1. I didn't know the history of sandpaper!

    Love the sand/glass paper analogy applied to the editing of your writings! May all go well as you find the space for that work amidst domestic and familial obligations (don't I know about that!).

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nor did I. And it has its own weird fascination, doesn't it?

    Domestic-familial-village! If you live in a small town (and have children), you do get bombarded with requests.

    ReplyDelete

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.