Sunday, August 31, 2014

Katrina Kittle's writing class

I met Katrina at the Antioch Workshops this summer and can say that I like and recommend her. She's running an online writing class that starts very soon:
Are you interested in creative writing, but need a kick in the pants to finally start a project...or to finish one? Katrina Kittle's online class series "Inspiration and Motivation" begins September 3rd. This 5 week class is for writers of any level of experience. Each week will focus on some aspect of the writing life (such as creating and defending a writing schedule, and dealing with the inner critic) and loads of writing prompts to jumpstart ideas. If the time/dates don't work for you to interact live, you can watch the class recording afterwards whenever it's convenient! Details here: http://www.onliten.com/workshops.htm

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Glimmerglass by starlight

Click on the picture for a larger version
of the catalogue page.
STARS

I ended the day last night with stargazing... The brilliance of the sky lured us to wander down to Council Rock park and use the ipad to identify constellations hanging over Otsego Lake aka Glimmerglass. The lake looked especially glimmerglassian by starlight, quite smooth with very slight motion and one little fish making an ecstatic jump from the water and back again. The hills made black shadows on the lake, the edge of the lake and the surface punctuated by pinpricks and smears of pale yellow light from lawn and lake-edge lamps.

SO SWEET

I was so very pleased to be on novelist-and-more Midori Snyder's facebook list of 10 books that made a lasting impression that I'm going to post the whole list:
So my friend Terri Windling-Gayton called me out to pick 10 Books that have made a lasting impression on me...which is rough because there are just so many, many books! And by lasting, I think I should include the books of my childhood too...So here goes in an approximate chronological order from younger to older of just the fiction:

Half Magic by Edgar Eager
Once and Future King by T. H. White
Everything by J.R.R. Tolkien
100 Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ingledove, by Marly Youmans
Just about every short story by Flannery O'Connor and her letters
Pedro Paramo by Juan Rulfo
Hummingbird's Daughter by Luis Urea
St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
I liked and was interested in her reasons for picking the book, and think it was a good pinch of attention for me--I need to get that one back into print.

THE OTHER GLIMMERGLASS

Tomorrow is pub date for the new novel. It managed to sneak up on me because I forgot the old verse beginning, "30 days hath September." [Addendum: No, it's not! I finally got the rhyme to go right, and pub date is Monday...] Those of you who have been friends to my writing and helped get the word out, thank you. Word of mouth is a great thing for a midlist writer, and I am grateful. If you are so inclined, please share the news. That's the best kind of launch for a book. You have my once-and-future thanks!

I'll be doing various sorts of events in Virginia, New York (including the city), North Carolina, and perhaps Georgia (working on that idea.) More are in the works. You can see current plans here.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Word frolics in Norfolk

In September I'll be doing an event at the SIBA trade show in Norfolk. And now I've added an open-to-the-public reading with Luisa Igloria. It'll be my first event for the new book--and I think for hers at well. We've planned to get together for years, and now an event is finally happening. We shall read and eat (and frolic and drink chipotle lime margaritas with our feet on Alice-in-Wonderland tuffets! Something like that...)

Double Trouble: 
A Book Launch and Reading Celebration
featuring Luisa Igloria and Marly Youmans
4:00-5:30 p.m.
Saturday, September 20th
Café Stella
1907 Colonial Avenue
Norfolk, Virginia

We both have brand new books--Glimmerglass (novel) and Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (poetry collection.) You know that idiom about hints, put a bug in someone's ear? If you have a book-reading friend in Norfolk, please put a go-to-reading bug (about the size of a pencil eraser) in his/her ear...

And here's a prose poem from Luisa's Night Willow, recently out from Elizabeth Adams's Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal. (They also published Thaliad, so we have one publisher in common.) I'm reading Night Willow now.
Night Watch

And if I say heat, expected rain, lassitude--the hollows of my bones begin to mimic the throats of brittle plants. I was seized by thirst, reading a catalogue of inks: morning glory, transparent blue as raindrops on its cheek; moonlight, brazen crimson of azaleas. Purple berries, named after the lady-in-waiting who wrote the first novel. The names of women were not even recorded in her time. I think of her, restless on her sleeping mattress, mining the indigo shade of night after night for illumination. Green sentinels of bamboo; ochre fields, stalks bursting with grain--each pointed like a nib.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Pushcart news

Thanks to Joseph Salemi, editor of the print-and-also-pdf magazine Trinacria, for nominating "The Nuba Christians" for a Pushcart Prize. The poem and another called "The Midden Cross" are in issue 11--first time I have sent there. Mr. Salemi is a highly opinionated poet and professor, but his strongest demand for poetry appears to be that it be formal and well-wrought.

As guest editor at The Raintown Review, he once accepted a poem of mine, "A Fire in Ice" (a riposte to a Billy Collins poem, "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothes." That one has proved to be popular, as such things go... Here's a video of it.

I think this is my third recent nomination, but I have been quite bad about keeping track of such things, so who knows? Shall resolve to do better... I think that the last one to get a nomination was "I Heard Their Wings Like the Sound of Many Waters" (click for digital copy and audio version), nominated by qarrtsiluni in 2011 (Dave Bonta and Elizabeth Adams, founders and managing editors, Fiona Robyn and Kaspalita Thompson, issue editors.)

* * *
Update: I just remembered another recent-ish one. The late (and very great inventer of 'zines) Paul Stevens nominated "The Clock of the Moon and Stars," published in his 'zine, The Flea.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Jot of glory + dewy-new interview--

from "Letter from the Editor," Books and Culture Magazine

Speaking of superb novels, let me recommend two others that will be appearing not too long after you receive this issue. In September, Knopf will publish Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, which imagines the aftermath of a global pandemic of unprecedented ferocity. We follow a wandering troupe as they make their circuit in the upper Midwest, stopping at tiny settlements to perform Shakespeare and play music. In the same month, Mercer University Press will publish Marly Youmans' Glimmerglass, set in Cooper country in New York State, a book in which the fantastic and the quotidian are cunningly interlaced. These two novels have very little in common except for the quality of their imagination—but that is more than enough to make them kin.

Online interview

The industrious G. G. has an interview series called Writers Who Read, and she does indeed seem to be curious about everything in book land and describes herself as "writer of romance, reader of everything." Thank you to her for a new interview. When I reread the responses this morning, I was surprised by a few things, and that's probably to the good. Jump here.

How it starts: Who are you? 

Marly Youmans. Some people know me as the author of 13 books, counting this year’s Glimmerglass and next year’s Maze of Blood. I write poetry (mostly formal, including long narratives), short stories, novels, and the occasional essay. Other people know me by my married name, and as the mother of three children. A few village spies have figured out that I am both of those people.

And from there it rambles on to beloved books, (dis)organization, modes of reading, and more. Take a peek and know me better...

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

War and words

Michael has been reading me excerpts from Ernie Pyle's Brave Men (campaigns in Sicily, Italy, and France in World War II), and as a way of remembering the Western journalists in captivity in Syria and Iraq, I'm posting a little homage to a war correspondent that I think interesting. Pyle loves to give little sketches of men faithfully doing the ordinary or extraordinary things that happen in war. There's a good deal of blood and mud and sweetness in the book.

Richard Tregaskis appears to be an unusual man in this portrait, but Pyle is just as interested in the humblest American foot soldier. Richard Tregaskis served as a correspondent in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam and published thirteen books.

* * *

Ernie Pyle, Brave Men

Shortly after leaving the artillery outfit, I stopped in at an evacuation tent hospital to see Dick Tregaskis, war correspondent for International News Service. He had been badly wounded a few weeks before. A shell fragment had gone through his helmet and ripped his skull open. That he was alive at all seemed a miracle. Even after he was wounded, other shells exploded within arm's length of him; yet he escaped further injury.

He still had his battered steel helmet. It had a gash in the front two inches long and a smaller one at the left rear where the fragment came out. The blow had knocked off his glasses but not broken them. Even with such a ghastly wound Dick had walked half a mile down the mountain by himself until he found help. Late that night he arrived at the hospital, was put to sleep on morphine, and Major William Pitts performed the brain operation.

It was Major Pitt's fourth head operation that night. He took more than a dozen pieces of bone and steel out of Dick's brain, along with some of the brain itself. He and the other doctors were proud of pulling Dick through--as well they might be.

At first Dick had little use of his right arm, he couldn't read his letters, and he couldn't write. Also, he couldn't control his speech. He would try to say something like "boat" and a completely different yet related word like "water" would come out.

But he was making rapid progress. During my visits he made only a couple of small mistakes such as saying "flavor" when he meant "favorite." But he always kept trying until the word he wanted came forth. The doctors said he was a marvel. While other patients usually lay and waited for time to do the healing, Dick worked at it. He constantly moved his arm to get it back into action, and he read and talked as much as he could, making his mind practice.

While I was visiting him the second time, a corporal in the Medical Corps came in with a copy of Guadalcanal Diary, which Dick wrote [the first of his books], and asked if he would autograph it. Dick said he'd be glad to except he wasn't sure he could sign his name. He worked at it several minutes, and when he got through he said, "Why, that looks better than the way I used to sign it." And after the boy left he said, "I always like to be asked to sign a book. It makes you feel important."

Dick Tregaskis was the quiet and scholarly type of newspaperman. His personal gear was in the same room I had been living in back at the base camp, and I had noticed that his books were Shakespeare and the like. He wore tortoise-shell glasses and talked slowly and with distinctive words. He was genuine and modest. His manner belied the spirit that must have driven him, because he had by choice seen a staggering amount of war. He had been through four invasion assaults in the Pacific and the Mediterranean. His famous Guadalcanal Diary sold half a million copies in America and was made into a movie. He was a very thoughtful person and was as eager to know about my book as if it had been his own...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Glimmerglass coming near--

Glimmerglass, now in pre-order
Out in a week...
Interior vignette by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
More comments, art, etc. here
Jot of praise

I know of no writer other than Marly Youmans who has the genius to combine the spine-tingling suspense of Gothic storytelling with the immense charm, grace, glamour, realism, and simplicity of Hawthorne. Youmans, one of the biggest secrets of contemporary American fiction, writes with freshness and beauty. Her ability to describe a person, a place, or the psychological underpinnings of a plot or individual, ranks with the great novelists, the highest literature.

--excerpt from comments by poet Jeffery Beam
About the art

Glimmerglass is strewn throughout with descriptions of the flora and fauna of an observed landscape. But like the Arabian Nights storyteller, Marly spins tales within tales that access altogether more fabulous topographies, and it’s as though the sea-serpent door-knockers and griffin-embellished wrought-iron gates of the real world, have been markers of hidden realms paralleling the everyday. Bearing in mind I’m a man who reveres the great eighteenth century wood-engraver Thomas Bewick, it was a foregone conclusion that when I came to consider decorations for the chapter headings and tailpieces of this wonderful book, I’d be moved to create a miniature naturalis historia.

The images are collages pieced together from paper worked with brushes and paint, pen and ink, crayon and frottage. They reference the interior decorations made for Thaliad, though are simpler and bolder in design and execution. 
--Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Yolanda Sharpe, new watercolors--

Peach Confections, 26" x 40"

Last week I enjoyed a visit to Yolanda Sharpe's house and SUNY to see artwork currently underway. Here's a peek at some new watercolors, not yet flattened and mounted. It is intriguing to see how her large pen and ink and encaustic works appear superficially very different from these, yet show innumerable connections through boldness of execution, color, shapes, and composition. You can take a look at her wonderfully varied work at yolandasharpe.com.

Big Purple II, 26" x 40"


Blue, Red, and Yellow, 26" x 40"

Nasrani

*
This is a blog about books and art and language,
but lately it occurs to me how pitiless a single letter can be.
*
It looks like a happy face gone wrong--a red cyclops.
So, too, a yellow star once went wrong, marked on homes.
*
A single letter...
*
Stretch, roll out of bed, find out
the world is still remarkably broken this morning.
*
Time to shore the fragments against ruin.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sweet

Chapter header--
interior vignette of a fat little bird
by Clive Hicks-Jenkins,
for Glimmerglass (Mercer)
now in pre-order, pub date September 1st



It's self-indulgent of me to link to this, but here's my favorite comment of the morning--second under the post. Who says writers don't need a bit of encouragement? Thanks to fellow poet Janice Soderling, thanks to the judgments of the formidable critic, Mr. Myers!

writer Nancy Richard on Thaliad

Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Fun to see little reviews by writers on Amazon... Here's one from Louisiana writer Nancy Richard:
Thaliad: Don't miss this one. March 2, 2013
Not since Fred Chappell's Midquest have I read a book-length poem so lovingly wrought, so luminous in language and engaging in its storytelling. As the children of Marly Youmans's Thaliad make their way in a post-apocalyptic land, their struggle to survive is fraught with loss, with violence and sorrow. They establish a new social order and a new relationship with the earth so that in the end, Thalia's words resonate as prophecy: "In time you will begin to heal your heart / And all that seems a waste will bloom once more." Illustrated with magical beauty by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, this book is a keeper, to be read and savored again and again.

Clivean detail from the hc jacket / pb cover of Thaliad

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Diminishing language and culture

Clive Hicks-Jenkins vignette for Glimmerglass
No one in the English speaking world can be considered literate without a basic knowledge of the Bible. E. D. Hirsch, Jr., James Trefil, Joseph Kett, The Dictionary of Cultural Literacy (Houghton Mifflin, 1993)
Late night and early morning exchange...

Me: I would say that if you can read Shakespeare, well, then you can read anything else in the English language.

RT (who is teaching at the college level in what used to be called the Bible belt): Students, however, remain convinced that Shakespeare did not write his plays and poems in English. It is, apparently to students, a foreign language that no one speaks in the 21st century. Really.

Me: Part of the problem for current students from the deep South is that many used to grow up with the King James Bible or some early translated version (and some with the 1928 revised or the Cranmer Book of Common Prayer.) Accustomed to those, they could read anything. But we can't count on any Bible literacy any more, and we choose to reduce that gorgeous language full of rhetorical tropes to pablum. And now I hear so many complaints that many young people cannot read language that is beautiful and contains depths and long-established rhetorical figures.
    Older translations refreshed the target language (English) by bringing in the Hebrew as much as possible. The KJV enlarged not only the language but also the conceptual apparatus of English speakers, as more or less common words and concepts like table and cup and staff took on the religious aura of the psalm.
     If we were talking about poetry, it would be a tragedy to keep texts from surprising us, to tell Lear to be just one thing, to do as little as possible.... Clive James' lament returns: translation and linguistic theories emasculate Scripture, depriving it of much of its linguistic, cultural, and political potency, and perhaps even of its religious power...
     --Peter J. Leithart, Deep Exegesis (Baylor University Press, 2009)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wordsmith, rest in peace--

James Foley, truth-teller, wordsmith
*
* * *
Beautiful, sensitive face photographed by Steven Senne/AP
*
Remembering Daniel Pearl
and all those held by ISIS and others.
*
"We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family." GlobalPost
Addendum: in his own words
* * *
The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates 
that there are about 20 journalists missing in Syria, 
many of them held by ISIS. -CNN

* * *
I died for beauty, but was scarce 
Adjusted in the tomb, 
When one who died for truth was lain 
In an adjoining room. 

He questioned softly why I failed? 
"For beauty," I replied. 
"And I for truth - the two are one; 
We brethren are," he said. 

And so, as kinsmen met a-night, 
We talked between the rooms, 
Until the moss had reached our lips, 
And covered up our names.

--Emily Dickinson


* * *


The third section of "In Memory of W. B. Yeats" 
recurs to me so often now--sometimes daily.

* * *

Journalist James Foley disappeared in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day, November 22 2012. Jim is the oldest of five children. He has reported independently and objectively from the Middle East for the past five years. Prior to his work as a journalist, Jim helped empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor assisting them in improving their lives.

A beautiful, good, and true life is a light to us all. 

"Authentic" language--

One of the many things that I need to tuck into my day is a going-over of this May's underlinings and scribblings in Peter Leithart's Deep Exegesis because on Thursday morning I am an invited guest at a regional priests-and-pastors study group--I think that it will be fascinating. Leithart's book focuses on exegesis of scripture but continually embraces poetry as well. And writers tend to be allured by the idea of peeking inside private worlds.

Here's a bit about Milosz, Clive James, the Bible, language, and civilization from an early chapter, "The Text is a Husk":
Picking through the rubble of postwar Poland to find something worth keeping, Nobel laureate poet Czeslaw Milosz came upon the Bible. Though he could not believe the Bible was literally true, he concluded that it was the "common good" of both believers and unbelievers. For intellectuals in the West, the Bible has "provided a standard of authenticity against the pervasive falsehoods of advertising, social engineering, moral uplift, demagogic politics--all the verbal corruptions of democracy, the language of illusion." For Milosz, "the scriptures provided a standard of authenticity against a much more dangerous language, the language of legalized murder."

In his brilliant collection of essays, Cultural Amnesia, Clive James reflects on Milosz' remark and wonders if the Bible's importance can only become clear when civilization is collapsing. In our more comfortable surroundings, we fool ourselves into thinking that "the eternal can become outdated, and safely forgotten." Forgetfulness, James argues, is not confined to unbelievers. He chides Christians for the ease with which we have "let the bible go." Though himself a lapsed believer, James laments the "successful reduction of once-vital language" to the "compendium of banalities" of modern English translations.
That's just a nibble from a complex, rich meal. I'd better make time to read through my notes...

Monday, August 18, 2014

Clive hangs a picture

Clive frames some Glimmerglass art.
And it's placed right next to books by friends...
More Ty Isaf pictures with Glimmerglass at the Artlog...

Yep, dear passers-by, that's all you get today. I am roaring through a mighty revision and will be ensconced in Pokey Corners all the day long, twiddling my pencil and muttering as I go. So please go and be gainly and gruntled, sheveled and effable and feckful, ruly and yet wonderfully ert. And be not stinting with your purse but go and buy books and read and be entirely consolate!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Small literary adventure

Vintage Cooperstown postcards (ebay)
showing Otsego Lake (Cooper's Glimmerglass)
and Kingfisher Tower, commissioned
by Edward Clark when times were hard
and the local stonemasons were out of work.
Sleeping Lion Mountain (or maybe Sleeping Mountain Really-Big-Hill) has been rubbed away by the mist, and even the romantic Kingfisher Tower is barely visible in the lake, next to a softened but still irregular line of shore and trees. But the sparrows are still chipping away in the wet rugosa roses, as cheerful-seeming as ever... Yesterday I wandered off to a wedding at All Saints Cathedral in Albany, and then on to see Yolanda Sharpe's new art at her house and the SUNY art department. The mist seems to have fooled with time, so all that seemed long ago when I woke at six this mornings.

Last week I had a semi-literary adventure. Michael and I went looking for the bit of landscape now called Natty Bumppo's cave. Cooperstown is stranded somewhere between the real and the mythic or fictional, with its castles and lake monster and semi-fictional Cooper places (not to mention the faux nineteenth-century village made out of real-but-transported buildings that is the Farmer's Museum, or the tourists dressed up like pro ball players), and that uncertainty was much of what made me write Glimmerglass. We spied what we thought might be the cave and climbed up, me in treadless shoes. By the nigh-vertical top, sliding and crawling on leaf litter and loose sticks, I was quite sure that I would be a very minor footnote in Cooper history, doomed to go pinwheeling down the slope. The cave was quite tiny, fit for only a pygmy family, but imagination can do a lot with the materials given.

On the way back, after teetering along the ridge for some time, we spotted a more prominent path that we might have taken. And now that I've seen some photographs, I realized that all that death-defying enterprise of scrabbling about and hanging on to little roots and skating on leaves was for something that was definitely not Natty Bumppo's cave.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Honey bee, bee honey--

Interior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Thaliad.
I strongly recommend Thaliad by Marly Youmans ... it is a remarkably innovative book in its structure, set in a post-(nuclear?) apocalyptic future, written in the form of an ancient epic, peppered with Greek and biblical references, steadily building towards redemption despite obstacles and hardships throughout.
Thank you, Forager Bee at The Well-Trained Mind...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Just a skosh--

art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
The only thing worth doing in the realm of the arts is to run to the very edge of everything you have made until now and then throw yourself off, trusting that your feet will find new ground. And this is true no matter whether you are Isaac Bashevis Singer or Jane Austen or Joe or Jolene Nobody who wants to make something beautiful.
Okay, that's it. All I have to say. My jot and morsel. My iota. All the advice I have to give. Done.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

More Glimmerglass news...

The book has arrived at the Mercer warehouse... If you would like to order Glimmerglass straight from the publisher, here's how to get free USPS shipping and a 20% discount via online order and coupon code or via phone call:

Click!

Extravagantly, madly, flamboyantly reticent--

Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Design by Mary Frances Glover Burt
Once again regretting that my Southern ancestors passed down to me demands for (a.) superhero-level hyper-modesty and (b.) never asking anybody for anything because a person (oneself, in fact) might subtly or openly (or even parenthetically) bother another human being or sentient entity (anybody, anywhere, on this planet or any distant planet known or unknown, not forgetting the various realms of the dead) somehow or other... So I need to somehow trip over, back into, pierce my Achilles's heel on the point that here's the latest update on my Glimmerglass page, which you just might (please excuse the intrusion) find compelling, an idea that I could possibly see as a tad, a smidgen, or a skosh workable if I could just get over six or seven minor (minor, minor, positively morselish, mere jotishness, certainly nothing to downright boast about) personal flaws because the book is, after all, despite my most self-effacing effacings, in pre-order and coming out immodestly soon.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

This is just to say: Balrog poetry

This is a Glimmerglass minotaur by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.
It is not a Balrog.
'Twill serve.
What I learn from spammers: I, my friends, am evidently amazing, awesome, full of life and color. Ahem. And surely I will visit their amazing, awesome, full-of-life-and-color websites out of sheer vibrant love of their worldwide love for me. And then I will write about their for-sale products in glorious, also-vibrant words on my website and use these products at The Palace at 2:00 a.m., perhaps with seductive pictures that will make you tumble over one another, hurrying to buy.

Unfortunately, I have a little ferrying expedition to Cherry Valley that will prevent me from investigating their fashionable handbags, miracle drugs, magic vacuums, stellar designs, etc. in the next hour. So I will toodle off into the green landscape of raindrops on leaves without a care, singing loudly as I go. And on return, I am determined to be amazing, awesome, full of life and color in a revision (so far, so good.)

But suddenly I realize (ack!) that in my thoughtlessness, I abandoned the spammers to wander in the Gulf of Spam, where they have all been eaten by roaming Balrogs. Again! One of the Balrogs has left me an apology in fiery runes:
We have eaten
the spammers
that were in
the Gulf

and which
you were probably
saving
for a bītan

Forgive us
they were delicious
so sweet
and so blōdig
Balrogs are very derivative in their poetry. Perhaps it is remarkable that they write poetry at all. Not many people know this. Now you do.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Igloria twice

The 17th May Swenson Award
from Utah State University Press.
"When Luisa Igloria cites Epictetus—'as soon as a thing has been seen, it is carried away, and another comes in its place'—she introduces the crowded and contradictory world her poems portray: a realm of transience, yes, where the vulnerable come to harm and everything disappears, but also a scene of tremendous, unpredictable bounty, the gloriously hued density this poet loves to detail. 'I was raised / to believe not only the beautiful can live on / Parnassus,' she tells us, and she makes it true, by including in the cyclonic swirl of her poems practically everything: a gorgeous, troubling over-brimming universe." —Mark Doty, judge for the 2014 Swenson Award
* * *
Luisa A. Igloria has two brand new books... I have one and will soon have the other. How about you?
Buying a book is a vote for publisher and writer, saying that there should be a next book--that the writer's labor to pluck "the golden apples of the sun, the silver apples of the moon" is worth your reading time and your support.
Why not skip the popcorn and soda at your next movie and get a book instead? Skip a lunch out and buy a book instead? Skip a couple of coffees at Starbucks and buy a book?

* * *

A beautifully-designed book
from Elizabeth Adams's Phoenicia Publishing of Montreal
In prismatic prose poems of daughters and fathers, of aging and longing, of loves and laments, Luisa A. Igloria fashions for us an ancient tongue for the 21st century, one that gets to the heart of why poetry is written: the pure lyric impulse of trying to live. In a time when words too often play flippant ironic games, Igloria instead takes us beneath language’s skin, to show us “how the planets align, how trees cast their shadows along the broken boundary; how the wolves howl as they press closer to their prey.” — Sean Thomas Dougherty​, author of ​Scything Grace; Nightshift Belong to Lorca (Paterson Poetry Prize finalist); Except by Falling (2000 Pinyon Press Poetry Prize); and ​Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line

Sunday, August 10, 2014

"The Wish for Roses," again--



This evening Paul Digby posted a link to his video for "The Wish for Roses," and though I've already shared his rendition elsewhere, I think it ought to be here as well. Thanks to those who have shared the poem on facebook, and to commenters on various pages... I've seen it on six pages already, so hope it is sailing out into the world.

The poem originally appeared at Sienna Latham's wonderful Hindsight, where it was joined with the original photograph and an account by Fredric Koeppel of his great-aunt Hazel Tuttle. I'm so glad that he wrote her story and posted!

An earlier reading of the poem appeared from librarykris of New Zealand at Audioboo at the beginning of the year--so lovely to hear different interpretations of a poem. Kris also recorded my poem "Sixteen Hundred Years."

Saturday, August 09, 2014

The Tree Finder


Here's a poem from The Foliate Head for tree-and-word lovers. It originally appeared at the Dave Bonta and Beth Adams e-zine, qarrtsilunias part of "Two Poems from the Plant Kingdom." A recording and lots of interesting comments on the poems are here. (As it's not as freely available in the states as a US-published collection, I'll just add that the book is available by ordering directly from Stanza Press (UK) and the usual online sites, as well as by special order via indies.)

WIELDING THE TREE FINDER

Do you ramble the ground—are you a tree and yet a forest,
     does your great bulk blossom in one night
     like an elephant singing a love-song to the moon,
     do you transform to a reservoir for water and stars,
     do you grow hollow for whistling,
     do you become an ossuary,
     do you hold African mummies in your heart,
     are you baobab?
Were you sacred to healers and priests who haunted oak groves,
     golden shoulder pins on their woven garments,
     your parasite branches in their hands
     —the raspberry girl slaughtered, seeds between her teeth—
     were you sharpened to a Norseman’s spearpoint,
     did your mischief kill a god, fairest of the Aesir,
     do you draw warmth of kisses to an orb of leaves,
     are you mistletoe?
Are the rosy pastors and the bulbuls feasting on your seeds,
     are you red and hairy like Esau,
     are your flowers good in bowls of curried pottage,
     are you a tree of red silk cotton,
     bombax malabarica?
Were you a thousand scented pillars
     around the forecourt of an emperor,
     are you malleable in the whittler’s palm,
     are you swooning-pale and infant-smooth,
     are you a parasite tethered to roots of others,
     are you sandalwood?
Are you loose-tethered, a yielder of leaves to wind,
     are you a sender-out of roots, are you clone,
     is a forest of your kind a single sentience,
     and in fall are you quivering yellow,
     boreal, afflicted with melancholy,
     a breather of mists and cold,
     are you quaking aspen?
Do your flowers steam with fragrance as the heat increases,
     do the chrysomelids rut within your clutch of petals,
     do your blossoms shatter as the beetles copulate,
     are you Amazonian—are you annona sericea?
Are you a kingdom, are you castles in the air,
     are you a garden of Babylon in mist,
     are your branches colonies of dreaming epiphytes,
     are the flicking tails of lizards lost inside your cities,
     are you flying above the prayers of the Maori,
     are you kauri, the tree that must forgive?
Were you as dense and black as mythic thrones of Hades,
     were you strong, were you midnight ripped in lengths,
     were you foretelling gleams—Victoria’s jet beads—
     were you heavier than the fat man’s coffin,
     were you Pharoah’s favorite chair,
     are you ebony?
Are you dawn redwood or frangipani,
     are you whistle thorn or cannonball,
     are you linden, myrtle, jacaranda,
     are you sourwood or silverbell,
     are you a branch of good and evil,
     are you the lemurs’ Ravenala,
     are you Yggdrasil, axis of nine worlds,
     are you a cross whose branches reach forever,
     are you water-tapping, cloud-catching, sun-devouring,
     are you leaf, are you branch, are you root, are you tree?

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Ascending Peculiarity

Some favorite (that is, congenial) quotes 
from Ascending Peculiarity: 
Edward Gorey on Edward Gorey

But I haven't the slightest idea why my work has taken the tack it has. I just do what occurs to me--if it occurs to me strong enough.

I haven't done anything of my own that I didn't believe in. And I don't think the amount of work you have to put into anything has got anything to do with it.

Basically I've written what I've written because it's the only mode in which I can write or draw.

...I don't think it is possible not to be one's own generation; however, on the surface, my work harks back to the Victorian and Edwardian periods. Basically I am absolutely contemporary because there is no way not to be. I am dealing with contemporary concerns. You've got to be contemporary.

Explaining something makes it go away, so to speak; what's important is left after you have explained everything else.

And the way I write, since I do leave out most of the connections, and very little is pinned down, I feel that I'm doing a minimum of damage to other possibilities that might arise in a reader's mind.

My better works just came to me, I think. I think if you have to think about anything very long, you've obviously done yourself an injury, as it were.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Eye-feast

                       Follow Marly's board GLIMMERGLASS on Pinterest.
--Thank you, nerdian software gurus--


shared by me and the marvelous Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

Now in pre-order. Pub date: September 1, 2014.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Blossoming minotaur

Study for Glimmerglass jacket by Clive Hicks-Jenkins of Wales
You see, evidently I am feeling decorative rather than talkative today... Perhaps that is because my dearly beloved snored like an inspired, electrified banshee all night. Perhaps it is because I am in dire need of scouring a long manuscript and don't have time. Perhaps it is simply whim. Perhaps it is because the green world outside has colonized the house. Perhaps I am sunstruck, wordstruck, funstruck! Perhaps I know but am not telling.

Monday, August 04, 2014

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

Clive Hicks-Jenkins, interior vignette
for Glimmerglass
SEEING

 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.

 ON “KEEPING RABBITS”

 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. 

HIDDEN LIFE

 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.

HALF-ALIVE

 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.

 WOOD FOR THE FIRE

 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.

 ART AND INCOMPLETENESS

 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.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Glimmerglass, the postcard--

Mercer sends me a present.
Postcard in the making, complete with one little error...
Metaphysical gold star if you find it!
Perfection still to come...


                      

Friday, August 01, 2014

Thalia on the move--

Montreal: Phoenicia Publishing, 2012.
Hardcover from Phoenicia only
and paperback from the usual suspects.
Interior/exterior art, Clive Hicks-Jenkins
with design by Elizabeth Adams.
In this country, where a small press poetry book sometimes sells in the dozens and is doing well when it sells a few hundred copies and where long poems are rare and surprising, I am pleased to say that Thaliad appears to be alive, still trickling into the world, and even appears to be picking up a few small classroom orders. (Last year I visited two classes at Wofford College taught by writer Jeremy L. C. Jones; they were reading both Thaliad and A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage. I know it is being taught in St. Louis this fall, and would love to know more about where it might be popping up, but those things are hard to know.)

I have been happy with reviews of the book, including Amazon reviews and Goodreads reviews, which show me that the book's readers (including quite a few writers) like the wedding of a wild novelistic adventure tale, developed characters, and a beautiful, ruined setting with the largeness and force of the epic. I thank them for playing in and helping to create one of my worlds.

To confess the truth, I was prepared for the idea that this book might find only a handful of readers. I am glad that some people in this country and elsewhere are proving me wrong. It is thrilling to find that readers are daring the quest for a home and re-building the world with Thalia.


One of Clive's many interior decorations.

Energy and persistence conquer all things. 
--Benjamin Franklin, wordsmith, founder, inventor, diplomat, etc.