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

Friday, March 20, 2015

Poetry, drama, fiction!

The marvelous collages
(painted papers and drawn elements)
of Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Thaliad
Thaliad at the Priory School 

I just opened a big, lightweight package from the Saint Louis Abbey. The inside is stuffed with letters from boys of Saint Louis Priory School, each containing a return envelope and a book plate to be signed for Thaliad. There's also a little note from their teacher, Fr. Augustine Wetta, who was one of my private students at the Antioch Writing Workshop last summer, along with a rosary made by him.

This year the priory boys in his care have been reading an impressive range, from Homer to me--"Homer, Virgil, Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Milton, Carroll, and Youmans." And I think that list sheds an interesting light on some of our public school syllabi, where teachers sometimes appear to have canon-allergy and now fear to teach the great books. It can be done. It is done. And these are middle school boys!

It's lovely to make a circle from teacher to student-and-teacher to students and back again. I'm proud of Father Dude and wish him much pleasure in his writing and many readers. He's not only writing but doing a teacher's part to make genuine readers who will be able to tackle any text.

And here's a review of Thaliad (from Goodreads) that I especially love because of the pitch, which says you should buy the book because it's from a small, artsy press but wonderful, and because it manages to be post-apocalyptic in an "aggressively non-commercial way." Hah! Thank you to David, somewhere on the planet.

Words at another school 

In other word-related news, child no. 3 has had an interesting couple of weeks, last week serving as an amusing co-host for the annual high school poetry slam (and also reading a poem written for the occasion) and this week making a surprising splash as Mortimer Weird on stage. He has a reputation as being a rather quiet student, so his flamboyant walk and talk has been astonishing to all. Treading the boards is thrilling!

Maze of Blood in the pipeline

First pass galleys of Maze of Blood have been returned to the publisher, after three straight reads. Clive Hicks-Jenkins is currently working on six large, beautiful images for the division pages, and there will be a series of six smaller images used in repetition for chapter headers. Will it be as beautiful as Glimmerglass, Thaliad, and The Foliate Head? Yes, they are all wonderfully decorated by that soulful limner, Clive! It's like trying to pick a favorite child or the best flower in a wonderful bouquet to pick which one is most loved.

4 comments:

  1. What a great reading list for students! Oh, how much 99% of American students are missing by never being exposed to those great authors. Please congratulate Fr. Augustine Wetta for being such a mensch among teachers. If only the world had more like him.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, he's special!

      So is my son's current English teacher, Rebecca Burke-Sciallo (who also directed the play he's in.)

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  2. As RT said! And how satisfying for you to be part of that "circle from teacher to student-and-teacher to students and back again". Bravo!

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    Replies
    1. Fr. Augustine will have books some day, I imagine, and his circle will be even more complicated!

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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.