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

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Pen Parentis and more

Photo by Lawrence DeVoe for Pen Parentis at the Hotel Andaz

Frolics in the city: Pen Parentis reading

Still having problems with my eye, as well as my throat (laryngitis, again), I took it easy. Let's see; we need to see and to have a voice for a reading? I was whiskey-voiced, but that worked.  It was great fun to read with Lev Grossman and Kelly Link--they're both funny, interested people. And I had a good time seeing friends from the past and meeting new people at Pen Parentis, located at the Hotel Andaz on Wall St. Thank you to Milda DeVoe (director) and Christina Chiu (curator and co-host) for their great work in organizing the event.

But I also had time for some hours at the Met, where I wandered slowly through the Byzantine and Medieval galleries, followed by a quick whisk through Asia, ending in Nepal. I left with a lavishly-illustrated book about fabulous animals and bestiaries and with a gorgeous Phaidon book about Fra Angelico, which I had coveted when I went to the marvelous Fra Angelico show at the MMA a few years back--lucky for me, it was now half price, so I did not feel guilty lugging it home.

I stayed at the marvelous House of the Redeemer, now designated a New York City Landmark and currently serving as an Episcopal retreat house. The Italian Renaissance-style fantasy was designed by Grosvenor Atterbury in 1916 for Edith Shepard Fabbri and Ernesto Fabbri, with many architectural elements taken from the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino. Crammed with Escheresque hidden staircases, fabulous ceilings, and surprising details, it is the perfect setting for marvels. Many thanks to Rick and Kathy Jagels for toting me to New York and back again, something I did not expect and which I enjoyed very much.

Six Words for a Hat
from the House of the Redeemer site

Scott Bailey wrote another post about Glimmerglass. I'm always interested in what he says about books at Six Words for a Hat, even when the book is not mine. The rose bush is probably my favorite part this time: "I should remember to say something about Youmans' extraordinary prose. She's a poet, and her narrative rings with the sounds of formal verse and scripture, surprising touches all over the place... The writing is not dense; there's a light shining through the carefully-placed gaps, the unfilled chinks. Maybe Youmans' prose is like a rose bush, prickly and beautiful and full of open space; hard and dangerous upcroppings in support of beauty."

He also wrote about the book in January and in February.


Thanks to R. T. for recommending Glimmerglass at Beyond Eastrod. "Part fantasy, part idyll, and part mystery -- and a quite a bit more -- this one, which I am reading again, should be on your 'must read' list."

Pen Parentis elsewhere

Novelist Nicholas Kaufmann wrote a post about the Pen Parentis reading and decked it with photographs. Kelly Link visited his writing group--that must have been an exciting time for the writers involved. And here's Ananda Lima's shot--I'm that bit of a head at the right, the one with glasses...


  1. Wow, sounds like it was a fabulous few days with the reading, the meeting of like minds and the seeing of great places including the Met, all in spite of eye and throat! Time for a rest, I suggest!

    1. Well, I have a semi-private event to do on Monday, so I hope the voice is back by then. But rest sounds good.

  2. Sorry to hear about your ocular and vocal woes. Congrats on what sounds like it was a very cool reading.

    That medieval gallery at the Met overwhelms and intimidates me; I tend to flee upstairs to the Rodin-and-friends sculpture hall...

    1. I had not gone through those galleries in a long time, and I had forgotten so much--and how weird some of it is. Also, I had forgotten how fragmentary the French examples are, thanks to the Revolution's batterings.


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.