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

Monday, April 28, 2014

Rounding up poetry--

Lady Word of Mouth 
Robbi Nester's anthology 
from Nine Toes Press,
an imprint of
Lummox Press,

The Liberal Media Made Me Do It: 
Poetic Responses to NPR and PBS Stories.

National Poetry Month,
Brand new news!

from David Bayles and Ted Orland, Art and Fear

The artwork's potential is never higher than in that magic moment when the first brushstroke is applied, the first chord struck. But as the piece grows, technique and craft take over, and imagination becomes a less useful tool. A piece grows by becoming specific. The moment Herman Melville penned the opening line, "Call me Ishmael," one actual story--Moby Dick--began to separate itself from a multitude of imaginable others.

Last chances

  • to benefit Phoenicia Publishing and buy a new book at 20% off--including books by me (Thaliad in hardcover and softcover, with lots of wonderful art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins), Dave Bonta, Rachel Barenblat, Dick Jones, and more. Available to the end of this month, national poetry month. Phoenicia is helmed by the discerning Elizabeth Adams, who is one of those rare multi-talented people; among other things, she is a wonderful designer. 
  • to sign up for my national poetry month giveaway
  • to sign up for my patreon account before I give up and ditch it, as I've discovered that I simply can't promote it--I'm so dratted polite that I can't ask anybody for anything!
  • to nab a hardcover edition of A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage--I thought they were all out everywhere, but evidently Amazon had a final shipment. A very few remain there and elsewhere, but used copies are fairly rare.

  • Duende again! And poetry--

    Gerry Cambridge and David Mason,
    reading and talking in the Transatlantic Poetry on Air series
    hosted by Robert Peake in London
    and Jennifer Williams of the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh.
    (The duende discussion is at 59.10 if you haven't had enough of that subject
    and want to hear that discussion before you listen to the poems.)
    Hat tip to Patricia Wallace Jones and Paul Digby.


    1. _The Liberal Media Made Me Do It: Poetic Responses to NPR and PBS Stories_. . . Now there is a provocative title. Can I hold out hope that the poetry is equal to the provocation? But that opens up a question (and you know I tend to throw out my questions as sometimes silly provocations): Are externals rather than internals reasonable catalysts for poetry? In other words, why do some externals (i.e., Wordsworth's daffodils) work well forever for poetry but other externals (Longfellow's Hiawatha) fall flat over the years?

      1. I haven't read it yet... I do have a poem in there, one which I wrote because the editor asked... I don't generally write that way, and I don't use "prompts" much.

        But I honestly think it doesn't matter in the least how you get to work if the work stands up. We have some very romantic ideas about how art is made, but often it comes from some quite unexpected source.

        I'm about to go to a far-off track meet, so I'll just throw out the thought that some art reaches a huge number of people in its own time--horizontally--while other art reaches people in a slower, vertical way. "Hiawatha" reached a huge number of people and held its own for a very long time. And I believe Longfellow has had some resurgence in the past twenty years.

        But the whole question of what lasts and why is interesting. Also, some drop out of sight for a long time and then reappear, like Donne. Work from the past goes in and out of fashion according to how it meets the needs of passing time.

        That's all I have time to say--by! Back later!

    2. You solve the puzzles of what "causes" art and why some art does or does not survive into successive generations and centuries, and you will almost certainly unlock the mysteries of the universe. I sort of like what I would call the William Blake solution: true and enduring art is the voice of the Divine "speaking" through the mortal.

      1. Blake ought to know, having achieved not worldly success in his lifetime but a more unearthly one... one that let him draw and sing on his deathbed.

        That's not so different from "The Artist of the Beautiful," where the purposes and processes of art are to make the soul, and the end product is lovely but not the essential thing to the artist. The watchmaker has made a butterfly, ancient image of the soul and resurrection, but he has also made a "far other" butterfly within.

        I love the idea of force and energy sluicing through the artist, who must try and catch it and shape it... But I also really do believe that among the purposes of art is to enlarge our selves, to bring us closer to truth, goodness, and beauty.

        How much does it matter, then, if some art does not survive? I'm not sure. It's often hard for ordinary mortals (and what are artists but ordinary mortals who have caught an immortal desire?) to accept the things that Blake could accept. Lack of worldly success has been the ruination of many, I am sorry to say.


    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.