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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Good wuthering

I'm very glad to have landed a spot on Amateur Reader's Wuthering Expectations end-of-year lists because I love that site. If I had all the time in the world to read blog posts, I would never  miss a post of that one. Here's the quote from the "Best of the Best" section The Wuthering Expectation Best Books of 2015 - the noodles they make for me:
Gustave Flaubert, Sentimental Education; A Shropshire Lad, A. E. Housman; Little, Big, John Crowley; Life Is a Dream, Pedro Calderón de la Barca; Germinal, Émile Zola. The confusion of the two dinners at the end of the first act of Richard Bean’s and Carlo Goldoni’s One Man, Two Guvnors; Rosso Malpelo digging for his buried father in Giovanni Verga’s “Rosso Malpelo”; Richard Jefferies falling in love with a trout; Mark Twain getting his watch fixed; John Davidson on the beach with his dogs; Lizzie Eustace trying to memorize Shelley in The Eustace Diamonds; the scene in Marly Youmans’s Thaliad where the little kids in the van drive away from the little boy – no, even better, when they go back for him; and the end of “All at One Point” in Calvino’s Cosmicomics when Mrs. Ph(i)Nk0 creates the universe in an act of generosity – “Boys, the noodles I would make for you!” – which may perhaps be an allegory for what all of these writers were doing for me this year.
I also love this and am so amused because my friend Paul Digby has mock-reproached me (for three years!) about what happens to Gabriel in Thaliad (Phoenicia Publishing, 2012.) This despite the fact that some of Fr. Augustine Wetta's students at the St. Louis Priory School gave Gabriel some fanfiction-style adventures of his own...

You can find Amateur Reader on twitter (@AmateurReader) as well. He's worth a follow. And Paul? He's the lovely fellow who has made videos for some of my poems, which you can find here:
Follow Marly's board Digby videos: videos by composer-videographer Paul Digby for poetry by Marly Youmans on Pinterest.
You can also find some recordings of Paul singing at the same Pinterest account.



  1. You know, Marly, I'm from Brit-land where hiding one's light under a bushel is - or used to be - a national obsession. I left school at 15 but in the University of Life I majored cum laude in self-deprecation and sickening modesty. It is refreshing (invigorating, infectious and just great fun) to read someone schooled in If-you've-got-it,-flaunt-it. Of course, there's a snag; to flaunt it you first have to have it. No problem for you; rather a harder row to hoe for me. I'm told I should play to my strengths which could mean Shakespearean-format sonnets on the subject of logistics, as with the last mag I edited. But would you read a sonnet which took as its theme: getting the right product to the right place at the right time and at the right price. Might you see it as a trifle materialistic, jejune or even nugatory. Please be a cruel as you can.

    I do have another string to my bow: I was once interviewed on BBC radio on the death of the British pudding. I have a West Riding accent which, I'm told, gave my utterances gravitas. For six years I was employed on several mags in the US turning academic American into idiomatic English which - I must admit - the authors seemed to enjoy. Chacun à son gout.

    But tell me: I'll be eighty-one next birthday (Fact!). Do I have a future? Or is it all in the mediocre past?

    1. Hah. My mother is heading toward 87 and is still whirling about (in her brand new car), volunteering at the state arboretum more than an hour away, warping her (also new--just swapped for a larger one--and took it apart to clean it and put it back together again) loom and weaving beautiful shawls and so on, helping out the "old folks." So the future is still there! I love seeing older people lead the way and show how to have interesting lives.

      I know exactly what you mean because it took me a long time before I could do any kind of self-promotion with any ease at all. My Southern ancestors resisted it with all their might (most of them came from the British isles, after all) and I felt guilty about anything positive I said about my books. Now I just grit my teeth and do it because it is so hard to get the word out unless you have a major publisher who gives you a push. I've had plenty of big publishers but no push.

      I'd love to see that bit about the pudding!

      Academic American. Shiver! I love those annual awards for horrible academic writing...

      And sonnets love smash-ups, I think--traditional form with surprising new subject matter of our own day. So let's see!

    2. When I was around 24, I biked the Cotswolds and the perimeter of Ireland. When ill, I camped for three days in the yard of an Irish playwright, boyfriend of someone I knew, and while I was there, a sculptor came by with two poets--younger than I was--and introduced them and eventually went on, introducing them elsewhere.

      Ever since, I have been rather jealous of poets and writers in small countries. You couldn't even do something like that for a young writer here--ramble around the country, introducing him or her to other writers. And trying to help your books in the gigantic land that is the states--it isn't easy. If you don't promote enough, your publisher is unhappy. If you do, you feel awkward about it. So there's the dilemma.

    3. You're far too generous with your time and space, especially in view of that long, long list of Aerial Threads. Please do not respond to this bit of re-sneaking-in, I'd rather have you repairing a villanelle or dredging the bed of a roman fleuve; I just needed to say you do self-promotion better than anyone I know, not a trace of teeth-gritting or self-regard, just a breezy here-are-the-facts,-ma'am tone of voice which allows any writer manqué to sheathe his envious teeth, re-arrange his mixed metaphors and simply wish you well. Which I do.

      The Cotwolds are almost visible from where I live, though somewhat tainted these days by the process of gentrification by those wealthy enough to own a second home.

      "camped for three days in the yard of an Irish playwright". I trust that this suggested to you, if you didn't know it already, that you were destined to write and that this episode would never escape a charge of a coincidentalism and therefore could never be incorporated in any future fiction.

      I will write a sonnet on logistics. Perhaps it is what I was born to do.

      Now, please, stay your responsive hand; read a little Yeats and act accordingly.

    4. That's a great assignment! I'll do it right after going to make keys (made three that don't work) and getting some olives from tapenade. And maybe feeding people. Yeats is always so refreshing.

      I'm afraid that I don't visit the aerial threads. No time. Though I do try and respond to people who leave notes despite the fact that I don't visit much anymore.


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.