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, April 08, 2016

A Throne in April


April is poetry month: I've already posted about special April sales for The Foliate Head (Stanza Press, and now the second printing is out of print) and Thaliad (Phoenicia Publishing), and thought that I should add a post for The Throne of Psyche, still in print in both hardcover and paperback from Mercer University Press. Both versions are handsome books; the hardcover won an Abby design award for Mary-Frances Glover Burt and the company of Burt and Burt. The cover image on both hardcover and paperback is by Clive Hicks-Jenkins.

At various times I've posted copies of poems, and so here's a little batch of samples from the book. The collection runs to more than a hundred pages, so this is just a snip:

originally published in Mezzo Cammin,
from the title poem

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A Fire in Ice (riposte to Billy Collins)
originally published in The Raintown Review
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originally published in storySouth
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originally in Mezzo Cammin

originally in The HyperTexts

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originally in Mezzo Cammin
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Tears of a Boy, Age Six

originally in Books and Culture

A Child at the Tropic Pavilions
originally in Mythic Passages

In Extremis
originally in storySouth

13 comments:

  1. Here is a peculiar question for you: how (and why) does a person become a poet?

    Yes, it is peculiar. No, it is not simple. Yes, it is annoying. So . . .

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    1. 1. Well, this person adored poetry as a small child and loved playing with words. She found a deep pleasure.

      That's one answer. There are many others. But that is the most practical one.

      2. Something like a waterfall out of a distant star fell on me repeatedly, and I turned it into words.

      3. I cannot actually tell you why I was made a poet because it is secret, and secrets must be kept.

      There you go--three answers, rather peculiar and perhaps annoying!

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    2. How kind and generous you are, Marly. I am strange in that I often ponder similar questions when I read poets' offerings. For example, I imagine Wallace Stevens commuting to and from his insurance executive job, jotting down poems along the way, and I wonder more about the how and why of his poetic impulse. Hmmmm. I have hundreds of other poets who similarly puzzle me.

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    3. I'm not a biography fan, so I don't know about Stevens's use of time during his work days. But I expect he was one of those people who is capable of sudden and intense concentration, a thing that is very helpful to a working person who wants to write (and also helpful at home, with children batting around the house and making child-noise!)

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  2. Or for that matter, how (and why) does anyone become a writer? It is such an odd commitment. Hmmmm.

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    Replies
    1. People become writers for all sorts of reasons, many of them rather poor reasons in my estimation, judging by the books. But human beings are made in such a way that they want to be creative, whether that means teaching an artful class or painting or designing software or whatever.

      It is extremely odd how powerful it is in certain cases--I always think of Melville, turning ninety with almost all recognition lost, and still shaping words into patterns.

      I would say that writing, at its best, enlarges the spirit of the writer. And that is a thing that is very hard to resist for some.

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    2. And there is this:
      http://booksinq.blogspot.com/2016/04/something-to-think-on_8.html

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    3. And there is this:
      https://brevity.wordpress.com/2016/04/07/sharing-the-awp-love-accumulated-wisdom-posts/

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    4. The Fante quote is pretty accurate, although sometimes it takes something good a long time to be seen. As for the others, there are some I like and some that I don't.

      The thing is, it doesn't matter what a writer says about his/her own work or about writing in general. I mean, sometimes they're totally wrong about their own work, or they say things they don't quite believe because they're suddenly on the spot.

      It's the work and what the work itself reveals about what poetry or stories are that matters. And either a given poem or story is great or good or else it's not as good as one would wish.

      It's easier in some ways to talk around writing than to make a judgment about writing. But time is a great judge. Slow, but great.

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    5. And there is this:
      http://thewritersalmanac.blogspot.com/2016/04/so-long-walt-whitman.html

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    6. Left you some thoughts there...

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  3. Interesting conversation for me to eavesdrop! I guess if I changed "writer" to "artist", I might have similar thoughts. Always a difficult question to answer as you say, Marly. I know I'm not a good writer, so I don't write poetry or novels; blog posts are enough of a challenge. :-)

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    Replies
    1. I often like what people say about another mode of art better than what they say about my own--often the translation from one medium to another (as from painting to seeing how it applies to writing) seems illuminating. And that works for me best with comments on visual arts.

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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.