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

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Glimmerglass, Mons Nubifer retreat, and more

Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Clip from a new review of Glimmerglass

This is the tale of a woman's journey and the courage required to live a creative life, or any life, to its fullest. Ghosts and "wizened creatures" are just a few of the obstacles for a late bloomer on the verge of giving up on life's dreams. If she is to make a home here, if she is to salvage a family for herself, she will have to stand her ground and maybe go deeper. Cynthia's reserves of strength, belief and imagination will be tested and the dangers are real. But so are the rewards.

Part fairy tale, part cautionary tale with a dash of fantasy and allegory, Youmans has created a special world in Glimmerglass. Cooper Patent is a village rooted in the States, but it shimmers with hints of Neverland, the Land of Oz and a visit through the looking glass. The setting has an eerie beauty to it along with tingling suspense and a real-world mystery clamoring for resolution. The language is spare and illuminating and sparkles a bit at the edges. I finished it late last night "before threading the eye of the needle and sliding head first into the plush midnight fabric of sleep."

--read more of Suzanne Brazil's review at Blogcritics; reprinted at The Seattle Post Intelligencer

St. James Lake Delaware
Next event on my schedule

The next one is a bit different from any event I've done previously... I'll be in residence for a long weekend at the rectory of St. James Lake Delaware. Participation is limited to a maximum of eight participants. Here's a description crafted by one of the world's most unusual Episcopal priests, James Krueger, founder of Mons Nubifer Sanctus (Holy Cloud-bearing Mountain. You can also find Fr. James here as a singer-songwriter.)

Thursday February 26 – Sunday March 1: The Priest-and-Poet Series: Exploring Religious Language
$200 suggested donation, includes program, lodging, and meals. Taught by award winning author and poet Marly Youmans. 
Religious language is not the language of technical manuals and engineer’s reports. Highly symbolic, often obscure and dream-like, and expressing human truths through the twists and turns of narrative rather than linear explanation the language of religion, and more specifically of Christian scripture, is more akin to that of the poet and novelist than that of the researcher – even when it is seemingly giving a report of historical events! This workshop is aimed at both writers and readers, and anyone who wishes to explore the intricacies of religious language in Christian scripture. Through reading, discussion, quiet reflection and journaling, award winning poet and novelist Marly Youmans will guide participants through a lush garden of scriptural readings accented by ancient and contemporary poems, writings which avoid sentimentality and grapple with the chaos and struggle of human lives and the complexities of faith, in order to better appreciate how language is used in the Christian context to speak to and to stir our deepest human longings. Not only will participants gain an augmented appreciation for the language of scripture, but will push towards these same linguistic virtues in their own writing and guided writing projects, with plenty of time for group sharing and feedback. As is the case with all programs at Mons Nubifer Sanctus, participants will be required to take part in the contemplative training schedule of the retreat house, which will include periods of silent and sung prayer throughout the day as well as a brief period of work. Individual spiritual direction with Mons Nubifer Sanctus’s founder and President will also be available upon request. Please see our “Attending a Program” page on our website for details and contact us with any questions or concerns. This retreat is offered in celebration of the feast day of George Herbert, Priest and Poet, on the 26th.

Litera scripta manet
What I am doing in my blogging-break...

Well, my eldest came for a longish visit and a local interview, and he made me the present of a monster cold! Nevertheless, I have been trooping around the snowy Yankee hinterlands, going to wrestling tournaments and duals. I celebrated the birthday of my painter friend Yolanda Sharpe with another painter friend, Ashley Cooper. I've been combing through the masses of poems for The Book of the Red King. And I've been reading--translations, Henri Cole's poetry collection Middle Earth (four times in a row to get it right in my mind), some mythic-minded fiction, and several nonfiction books on alchemy, one a present from the aforementioned Ashley and another recommended by New Zealand grad student of alchemy, Sienna Latham. I may even get to some books by flesh-friends and e-friends soon, things I've long said that I would read "when I have time." I'll be back here more frequently next month.


  1. I am currently reading Glimmerglass! The language keeps surprising me in delightful ways, and delighting me in surprising ways. Both, you see.

    1. Oh, that sounds so sweet--thank you!

      And I was thinking of you in the penultimate line...

  2. George Herbert has a feast day? I didn't know that! (That retreat sounds like it could be splendid and could be awful, totally depending on who signs up for it. I hope it's splendid! & I wish I could come!)

    1. At least in the Anglican Communion, Herbert has his day...

      Dale, yes, I'm very curious about how it will go! Fr. James has an interesting, unusual history, and I have no doubt it will be different in all sorts of ways. But we have to have three sign up, and Mons Nubifer Sanctus is in its first year... so we'll have to see how many appear to want such a weekend!

  3. Ah, it is great to "read" your voice again. All the best from the Redneck Riviera to the frozen tundra of upstate NY.

    1. Will be back soon. Must get over the flu and get some more work done.

  4. Hello Marly - just been taking a look at your blog. Very glad to see you're busy doing such interesting things. Excellent stuff! I hope you're over the flu soon and the retreat goes well.

    1. Thanks, Clare--it's been too long! We need tea by a castle... In fact, I owe you tea (by a castle or by most anything!) I like what you're up to as well.


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.