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, August 04, 2014

Metaphysical tea party with Edith Sitwell and Flannery O'Connor and peacocks

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, interior vignette
for Glimmerglass

 Edith Sitwell: It is a part of the poet's work to show each man what he sees but does not know he sees.

 Flannery O' Connor: The writer should never be ashamed of staring. There is nothing that does not require his attention.


 E: A great many people now reading and writing would be better employed keeping rabbits.

 F: Everywhere I go, I'm asked if I think the universities stifle writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher. 


 E: The poet should speak to all men, for a moment, of that other life of theirs that they have smothered and forgotten.

 F: I use the grotesque the way I do because people are deaf and dumb and need help to see and hear.


 E: I am not eccentric. It's just that I am more alive than most people. I am an unpopular electric eel set in a pond of catfish.

 F: Whenever I'm asked why Southern writers particularly have a penchant for writing about freaks, I say it is because we are still able to recognize one. To be able to recognize a freak, you have to have some conception of the whole man, and in the South the general conception of man is still, in the main, theological.


 E: I have taken this step because I want the discipline, the fire and the authority of the Church. I am hopelessly unworthy of it, but I hope to become worthy.

 F: Most of us come to the church by a means the church does not allow.

 F: All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful.


 E: Poetry is the deification of reality.

 F: The writer operates at a peculiar crossroads where time and place and eternity somehow meet. His problem is to find that location.

 F: The novelist doesn't write about people in a vacuum; he writes about people in a world where something is obviously lacking, where there is the general mystery of incompleteness and the particular tragedy of our own times to be demonstrated, and the novelist tries to give you, within the form of the book, the total experience of human nature at any time. For this reason, the greatest dramas naturally involve the salvation or loss of the soul. Where there is no belief in the soul, there is very little drama.


  1. All my favorite O'Connor quotes -- so beautifully paired with Sitwell. This is wonderful thank you!

    1. Midori, Midori--

      This does seem Midorish! Or Midori-ish... Midorian. Middlorian!

  2. Marvelous words, paired appropriately.


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.