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Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christmas, Charis, Willows


And it's Christmas Eve day! 
Here's stellar Fra Angelico, dreaming the Madonna and naked infant Christ 
with embodied angels, Peter of Verona, Thomas Aquinas, Barnabas, Dominic. 
Detail, Fiesole altarpiece, 1422, Convent of San Dominico. 
Public domain CC wikipedia.

Some bits of news:


Short version, Englewood Review of Books
"Twelve Important Fiction Books of 2020" https://www.goodreads.com/.../156371.ERB_Twelve_Important...
and
Longer version of the Charis in the World of Wonders page... 


"The Changes," "The Ruined Garden," and "Come to the Selvage of the Sea" kick off issue 19 Winter  2021 of Willows Wept: https://willowswept.com/ and https://www.magcloud.com/webviewer/1903662?__r=150177&s=w for the online version...  (And weirdly, the cover image by Troy Urquhart shows a Cherokee spot only a few miles from Cullowhee, NC, where I went to high school and still spend part of every year.)

Friday, December 18, 2020

Night, village, snow

Home Sweet Home

Santa's Cottage in tiny Farkle Park
next to the 1802 Tunnicliff Inn 

Kiosk in Farkle Park
with clever snow-shedding roof.

Baseball Hall of Fame

Ranking board at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Village Library

Main St. house

Clark Foundation offices,
Main Street by Cooper Park

 Night-walk pictures by Michael, my husband

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Charis, Cáer, Ghosts


Gaudete Sunday, Rose Sunday... 
Our ramshackle 1808 federal getting duded up in Advent by my husband...



CHARIS IN THE WORLD OF WONDERS

Continuing to have Covid-era supply chain and other problems with indies and sometimes with Amazon and Ingram, so if you planned to read Charis in the World of Wonders, please don't let that dissuade you but support the book even if it takes a bit longer to arrive than you or I would like. I am, frankly, disheartened by my third (9-11, HarperCollins collapse, Covid19) intersection of a novel launch with a disaster. Who has that kind of mad luck? Me. Contemplating whether the universe wants me to stop writing novels...

It is on sale via Ignatius Press, and they have copies--I'd be even more worried about what the universe thinks if they vanished. All seems possible in 2020!

CÁER

Here's a poem of mine up at First Things this morning. It's about Cáer Ibormeith--Aengus fell in love with her in a dream, and that mythic love and hunt for the beloved  was the  inspiration for Yeats's great early lyric, "The Song of Wandering Aengus."


BEST BOOKS 2020

"The Best Books I Read in 2020." Charis in the World of Wonders makes an appearance, and I also have a note included. 

and GHOSTS

And I just realized that another of my "tinies" is up at The North American Anglican. An odd little thing but  mine own: "The Teeny Ghosts."


The header image at NAA is Franz Sedlacek's Blumen und Insekte...


Friday, December 04, 2020

What's-in-print list; Pushcart nom


What's available and where...

Charis in the World of Wonders: French flaps paperback from Ignatius, and of course it can be ordered directly from them. It keeps moving rapidly in and out of stock at Amazon, and the arrival dates keep changing. Indies may have best luck ordering directly via the publisher. Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2020.

The Book of the Red King: Hardcover or paperback from Phoenicia; paperback in the usual places. Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2019.

Thaliad: hardcover or paperback from Phoenicia, paperback in the usual places. Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2012.

A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage: Mercer hardcover and paperback. 2012.

Maze of Blood: Mercer hardcover. Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2015.

The Throne of Psyche: hardcover and paperback from Mercer. Cover image by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2011.

The Foliate Head: hardcover from Stanza Press (UK.) There are only a few copies left at Amazon and elsewhere. Interior and exterior art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. 2012.

Look at the top of this page for tabs to book pages
with review clips, illos, blurbs, jacket copy, and more.




Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving, 2020...

Here's a dream of peace and health and gratitude for Thanksgiving. "The Peaceable Kingdom" by Edward Hicks, folk painter and Quaker minister. "Love one another." (Edward Hicks - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D. C., online collection.)

Amazon, indies, Ignatius... Finally! I've been disheartened by how few ways there are to purchase Charis in the World of Wonders, thanks to Covid-era warehouse/post/distribution problems and the book selling out at some indies & Amazon, but it is at last back up at Amazon. Want to order Charis in the World of Wonders through your local indie but having Covid-time troubles obtaining it? When brand new indie Goldberry (Concord, NC) wanted more copies, they ordered directly from Ignatius instead of the distributor. Workable idea!  Of course, you can order straight from Ignatius as well. 

CWR used an image by my daughter from 2013.

Carl  Olson, “Axe-grinding and message spoil what you make”: An interview with Marly Youmans  And here's an extensive interview with me, conducted by editor and writer and artist  Carl Olson over several weeks. Catholic World Report, 22 November 2020 (landed on my birthday.)

Hand and Charis-copy of Carl Olson's sister, 
somewhere near Glacier National Park...

I'm grateful to Catholic World Report for being interested in my Massachusetts Bay Colony adventure, as they also hosted the marvelous review by Jane Greer, 2020’s "Best-kept Literary Secret: Marly Youmans’ Charis in the World of Wonders is broad and deep, sweet and savage, funny and terrifying, and just plain grand."

Editor John Wilson on A YEAR OF READING: 2020Look for Charis in the World of Wonders...

Monday, November 16, 2020

Reading with the Plague Papers

Reading a poem live 
Tuesday, November 17 
at 5:00 EST 

with The Plague Papers (anthology of ekphrastic poems based on pieces from museum collections) cohort! For a link to the event, please RSVP by email to poemeleon@gmail.com OR message me privately on twitter or facebook. Hosted by Robbi Nester and Cati Porter.

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Tonight at Easton Book Festival




***
Hosted by editor and book critic John Wilson
7:00 p.m. EST 
November 15

Easton Book Festival event release:  "Marly Youmans is one of today’s masters of language and imagination. Her poetry and fiction blend fantastic, historical, and everyday elements that have delighted readers for decades. In this program, book critic and editor John Wilson introduces a series of dramatic readings of Youmans’s fiction and poetry, from her critically acclaimed Catherwood (1996) to her recently released Charis in the World of Wonders."

Readers include artist, writer, and culture shaper Makoto Fujimura, actor Keisuke Hoashi, professor and writer Chris Phillips, and theatre student Lauren Stango.

UPDATE, THE LOWDOWN FROM ON HIGH: 

"The broadcast is at 7pm EST tonight (I.e., very soon), and will be on eastonbookfestival.com and the festival’s YouTube channel: 
https://www.youtube.com/.../UC6x2DUva4.../featured

[Makoto Fujimura] is uploading his recording, and I’ll add it to a new version of the video." So there will be a slightly longer recorded version up later that includes Mako reading from Charis in the World of Wonders.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Gratitude!


I'm still in house quarantine after returning from North Carolina (the state now has a shorter and more lenient version, but I don't qualify for that, having left under the old rules), so my life has not been too exciting of late. However, I'm expecting something wonderful about my books at the online Easton Book Festival, I have some other e-events coming up, I have a long interview coming out soon, and I'm about to meet up with the Cathedral Arts committee in Albany in a few minutes.

And I'd like to share a link to this just-out review of Charis in the World of Wonders by Jane Greer. While the review has been shared and re-shared on social media, I am hoping it gets a little more attention through the blog. I could not be more grateful for her remarkably strong review. Please read and pass on to readers you think might be interested. I would be glad of that at any time but especially glad in this year of pandemic book launches.

Sample clip:

The book invites comparison with other works, such as The Odyssey (arduous homecoming after war), The Book of Job (wretched loss without lost faith), and Cinderella (good prevailing over evil). It has aspects of all these classics. Charis faces nearly insurmountable issues but perseveres. She is heroic inside and out.

The novel’s compelling plot, realistic characters, gentle humor, and historicity are strengths, but the first attraction is its glorious prose. Reviewers—there have been a few—can’t resist quoting the book’s opening paragraph. Someday it may be as well-known as the first lines of A Tale of Two Cities or Anna Karenina.

Monday, November 02, 2020

The Plague Papers at Poemeleon


"The Wife's Reply," originally at Autumn Sky Poetryis now part of poet Robbi Nester's anthology The Plague PapersThe online anthology is inviting and colorful, images that inspired its poems arranged in a lovely table-of-contents grid by Cati Porter of Poemeleon, where the online book is housed.

Clip from Robbi's introduction:  In this anthology, the only one of its kind to my knowledge, we have asked writers to choose individual items from [museum] collections, and to tell us about them in poetry or prose. The works are listed alphabetically by the names of the museums in which the objects are located. Like other forms of Ekphrasis, the resulting works may interpret the work in question, imagine its creation, comment on the difference between the work online and in person, or spin a narrative about it, but with the aid of the link included with each piece, readers can immediately visit the museums and see for themselves what all the fuss is about. This book will introduce them to institutions they may explore for themselves online and perhaps, after the danger has passed, in person.

Mine is a response to an Old English poem in The Exeter Book (circa 970), housed in the library collection belonging to the Exeter Cathedral. Traditionally known as "The Husband's Message," the somewhat-damaged lines convey an exiled man's call for his wife or his betrothed to cross the sea to meet him. In riddling style (The Exeter Book also holds riddles), the request is spoken by a tree that has learned to speak, its wood now holding a carved, runic, secret cry.

About Robbi: Robbi Nester is the author of four books of poetry, the most recent being Narrow Bridge (Main Street Rag, 2019). She has also edited two other anthologies, one of which, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees, was also published as a special issue of Poemeleon.


A dim, gloomy Hallowmas...
Starting my mandated quarantine with All Saints Day...
Here's how the family welcomed me home...
Giant jack o' lanterns (minus one some mischievous Yankee stole)
and lady ghost and owl and noisy skull-knocker...

All Saints in the wee hours...
First snow of winter is on the giant pumpkins and chrysanthemums...
Snow plows scraping and jingling...
900 miles from Cullowhee...
Guess I'm really and truly back in Cooperstown.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

New reading, new poems--

POETRY, MOSTLY

I've been down in Carolina for some weeks, and of course I did not bring enough books with me (because who can bring enough?), even though there are books here as well, and I somehow tumbled into the lovely Harry Alter Books while my mother was at PT and came out with a Modern Library Pound Poems and Translations, some Horace odes, a pretty Petrarch collection, and Rupert Brooke. This plunge into book-greed happened despite the fact that I toted plenty of books with me, including the new Sally Thomas and Jane Greer collections (if you didn't see our three-way reading, it's mostly--minus a bit of techno-slip--on my Charis in the World of Wonders page, near the end. Jane reads from Love Like a Conflagration and Sally from Motherland.)

The reason I succumbed to another Pound collection was that I had the yen to read him while reading Timothy Steele's interesting nonfiction book, Missing Measures. Having a memory like a sieve, I did not recall--or else Steele has been an indefatigable hunter--so many expressions of uncertainty about vers libre from Pound, Eliot, and Williams. I'm afraid I laughed at Eliot's dismay when his niece sends him some of her school-assigned homework: free verse poems. What you and the public schools have unleashed on us, Thomas Stearns! A Niagara of poems... Steele talks at length about the disappointment of all three with what was accomplished, and how no hoped-for new metric emerges from Modernism and why that might be. It's a fascinating book that zooms back to the classical world to show the roots of free verse, and how various ideas pertaining to prose writing and poetry writing become braided, swapped, or muddled along the way. It's a useful book for any young poet, I would think, and might just convince one of the need to return to roots, or at least examine them.

A FEW POEMS JUST OUT AND ONLINE

"An Apple Tree Carol"

at 


and


"The Little Place"
at
North American Anglican

(Click on my name for lots more.)

and some

at 

"Reverie,"

"Silk," 

and

"Metamorphoses." 

So that's 3 poems at Patrick Key's new Grand Little Things.

DR. JOHNSON

Versification, or the art of modulating his numbers, is indispensably necessary to a poet. Every other power by which the understanding is enlightened or the imagination enchanted may be exercised in prose. But the poet has this peculiar  superiority, that to all the powers  which  the perfection of every other composition can require  he adds the faculty of  joining music with reasons, and of acting at once upon the senses  and the passions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Professor Phillips at Lafayette.edu

Thanks to @MobyProf for this short, strong review at https://today.lafayette.edu/2020/10/12/charis-in-the-world-of-wonders/:
 


Click to big-ify!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Clive, Charis, clips, poems




CLIVE'S LATEST PRINT WITH PENFOLD PRESS

Interested in the multitudinous making of Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has illuminated so many of my  books and made them beautiful? Here's yet another affordable chance to own a bit of his work.

Clip from his website: Launched today, my new print edition with Dan Bugg at Penfold Press, The Tiger’s Bride. It marks a return to a theme I explored in my first print with the Penfold Press, Man Slain by a Tiger. The two prints have a common interest in Staffordshire Pottery and in particular their ‘penny-dreadful’ celebration of awful events. Based on the Staffordshire group titled The Death of the Lion Queen, my print draws on the history of Ellen Bright, who in 1850 at Wombwell’s Menagerie entered a cage of mixed big cats for the entertainment of the crowd. 

Go here to read more about the tragical tale of Ellen Bright.


CHARIS IN THE WORLD OF WONDERS 
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
&
THE ELEGY BETA

"But mostly, I’ve been reading this wonderful new novel by Marly Youmans. Holy smokes you guys, the tension in this thing, and the sense of foreignness, and the pacing! I’m not finished with it yet, but I can’t see it being bested for my favorite novel of the year." --writer Mischa Willett, in Buttondown (his newsletter)

Mischa Willett's collection, The Beta Elegy, is suddenly on sale for less than $5. at Amazon--the hardcover! Might be a mistake, but there it is for now...

Here's poet Dan Rattelle's review of The Beta Elegy. Clip: Irreverent. Colloquial. Unexpected. And daringly funny. I once read in a Creative Writing handbook that one should use words like ‘grandmother’ rather than ‘grandma’ in a poem because they carry more weight. Hmm. Willet is also willing to take for granted that his readers’ grandmas also baked lasagna and crocheted superfluous hats. And thus, I do not need to explain the joke. There is also a delightful poem about the sort of typeface used in a note to tell someone he cannot make it to a wedding in Long Island (why is Long Island funny? It just is).


READ THIS!

Of course, a person (this person, anyway) often likes an interview because it's so dratted kindred to her own thoughts about many things, but read it anyway: Amit Majmudar at Tributaries.

Here's a clip, the opening paragraph: 
I’ll offer a preliminary historical note on vers libre. As Eliot practiced it, it was really a medley of prior verse forms, roughly juxtaposed. The phonetic runs of blank verse, rhyme, tercets, etc. of, say, Four Quartets, has the same fragmentary nature as the actual snippets of prior literature incorporated into The Waste Land. If practiced like that, free verse required, as its prerequisite, a mastering of or at least familiarity with meter and rhyme in practice; that is, it comes after you get the other ways of writing down. It is a “late” form both in the history of English language poetry and a “late” form in the poet’s technical development. This is no longer understood. Young poets arrive at free verse as their first stop; many never even try writing in meter and rhyme, much less failing often and failing joyfully at it, because they mistakenly locate it in the “past” of poetry.


RECENT ONLINE LINKS



"Youth at the Borderlands" 
in 


Various poems and prose "tinies"
at


"The Watering Place" 
and
"House at the Edge of Sleep"
in


"The Aspen Wish"
in 



"The Young Wife's Reply" at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily

(Response to "The Husband's Message," c. 970, from the Exeter Book)


Monday, September 28, 2020

My summer escapes, etc.

Bryan Nelson Elder CC BY-SA 3.0


SUMMER ESCAPES FROM THE CRAZINESS,
Accompanied by the Youngest and the Husband

My husband was supposed to be volunteering in Mongolia this summer and was attempting to lure me along. Needless to confess, the woes of the virus kept us in the Village of Cooperstown. And we had some luck, as it was the prettiest summer in 22 years, sunny and warm and blooming. And now the maples are coloring up, and I suppose the last vestige of summer will end on Tuesday....

SYRACUSE, NEW YORK 

Frolics to amuse our youngest:
    a. ghost golf;
    b. mirror maze;
    c. go karts;
    d. Dinosaur BBQ.
All very mask-y and socially distanced, yes.

BURLINGTON, VERMONT 

The leaves are turning, so the seasons must still be in order. No I did not see the Lake Champlain monster. Had good meals at Hen of the Wood, Bangkok Bistro, and Skinny Pancake. College protests all started with "Oink, oink" and continued in the usual fashion. Lovely swings by the lake, not far from the Requisite Edge-of-Campus Encampment with garbage and fancy tents. Ah, sunsets!

ESSEX,  NEW YORK

Lovely ferry ride from Charlotte, Vermont to Essex. And Essex (1765) is wonderfully charming and ancient in the American way (that is, not that old for most parts of the world but ancient for us, meaning lots of pre-Civil War architecture and still intact.) Octagonal private schoolhouse! (And oddly, another one out in the countryside,  but made of stone. And that one in 1826 seems about a quarter-century too early for octagons.) Lots of Greek Revival, federal, and Georgia architecture. Cunning library. Gardens still in full blow, with lots of Japanese anemones and butterfly bushes and salvia, etc. The earliest surviving house appeared to be 1780's... 

Had a good lunch relaxing in squishy chairs overlooking the lake at the Pink Pig. And we had our more-than-fair share of gorgeous sunshine, colored leaves, deep blue water, and good company.

FIRST EVER KAREN ENCOUNTER

Curious village-anthropology incident... After lunch, we had an exciting Karen Encounter while rambling along the street drinking our respective beverages, masks in hands. Although a good ten feet away from any other human being, we were chided at some length to socially distance and put on our masks. I'm afraid we responded by veering a few more inches away to make sure we did not accidentally tumble into the careful shop lady's place of business. 

Of evolving anthropological interest: she did have the requisite long bob of Karen fame.

PORTLAND, MAINE 

Receding in memory, but it was good to see ocean, admire architecture, wolf excessive amounts of seafood out-of-doors on piers and decks, sniff hard at the salt air through our masks, and march indefatigably all over town. 

Also, I just barely missed stepping on a dirty needle near the Portland Encampment in my sandals--and barely missing is excellent, infinitely better than not missing at all. Tents were definitely not of the fancy Burlington Encampment variety. 

Notable: the famous potato doughnuts with interesting Maine flavors (wild blueberry, maple, lemon-ginger lobster, hermit armpit, moose, etcetera.)

***

THOU LAZY BAGGAGE, READ!

Unrelated news: If you are like most of the population in northern and southern hemispheres, you may not have read my new novel yet. Please do. Charis in the World of Wonders is a better escape from Covid19 than ghost golf, potato doughnuts, and a ferry ride rolled into one enticing ball. (In fact, there are ferries in Charis in the World of Wonders, but no ghost golf and no potato doughnuts or, indeed, doughnuts of any kind. There is a tray of bride cakes, however.) 

If you have already escaped massacre and horrid frontier-village dangers (Goody-Karens, witchcraft, magistrates, and so on), then I suggest you time travel back a year and read The Book of the Red King.

***

FINE CHARIS-TWEET

I've rather lost track of comments by writers, but here's a lovely one from poet Mischa Willett of Washington State. If you earnestly and sincerely and greatly desire more (i.e. more reasons to readreadread), check out the book page.

(Willett, Willett... Long ago, I lived on Willett St. in Albany--my first two children were born there. It was near the Psychiatric Center, and I had many odd adventures with people in the park across the street from our apartment. Like Central Park, it's an Olmstead-designed park. In case you are wondering, I expect that probably has nothing to do with Mischa Willett. Oh, there's a new Willettian work: The Elegy Beta. And I am reading and liking it this week, so I am glad Mischa found my novel because that meant I found The Elegy Beta.)

Post-detour: finally, here's the tweet! With Mischa's curtain, lamp, clock, and copy of Charis.



Mischa Willett
I don’t recall when I’ve enjoyed a work of fiction as much as this one, new from ⁦⁩. For me it gets this timeless Cormac McCarthy vibe crossed with an audacious Faulknerian mythos and dislocating force of language plus some of Buechner’s blunt holiness.
Fire
Folded hands

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

New interview

Rear cover detail, front cover detail
by Clive Hicks-Jenkins

An interview diving into Charis in the World of Wonders.
With the stellar questions of Amit Majmudar.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Horse. Angel. Riddle.



Once again, I have been terribly lazy about sending out. But thanks to Callum James (I met him some years ago in Wales, during splendid celebrations for the retrospective of painter Clive Hicks-Jenkins) for requesting some poems for the Spiritus Mundi series at Cunning Folk in the U.K. He was, for a short time, their poetry editor. 

The lovely illustration above is by Helen Nicholson, who is an illustrator and musician in the U.K. You can find her here: https://helennicholson.co.uk/. She also has an Etsy shop for her prints.

Here are some three-line openers/teasers that will surely make you fly through the aether and land ever-so-daintily on the Cunning Folk cloud:

from "The Riddle"

   The mystery of making things
From words is how the needed element
   Seems like a metal jot that springs

and from "The Horse Angel"

Heaven and earth are like two hands that touch,
Clapping together when a thunderbolt
Rives the air and melts the sand to glass.

I also have a short story titled "The Horse Angel." It's in the 2009 Postscripts (U.K.) anthology. Suppose I need a horse-angel essay next.

In related news, I'm saving the tweet below because a.) Dan Sheehan always deletes his page and b.) it is my favorite tweet of the month, and I shall look at it when I feel blue about having yet another novel come out during a disaster. (However, surely the universe will find that three disaster launches is enough... Then again, maybe not. There may be some reason behind my terrible timing, some thing I simply don't get. Offended a minor demon. Insulted a child. Tripped over my own words.) The Sheehanian comment is evidently referring to the Cunning Folk poems in particular, but I feel cheered by the idea of having eerie powers, haha! At least in the realm of world-wielding... And transporting. And timelessness. Okay, I sort of love Dan Sheehan right now, though I suppose that is childish and silly. Compliments at the right moment are sweet.

As I'm getting over a nasty g.i. bug (not The Bug), I shall now wave good-by! and go hug a pillow. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Dear Wikipedia, I object--

Among the many bothersome or dreadful things presenting themselves to my mind in 2020--global, national, and personal things--is the fact that Wikipedia still determines that I am a New Formalist. I noticed this claim some years ago. Perhaps many years ago. In fact, dear Wikipedia, I wrote you about this wee but annoying issue back in February of 2016.

But having accidentally fallen once more into my Wikipedia page by clicking heedlessly on a link, New Formalist glared out me from the little box in the upper right, even though I backtracked as quickly as possible. At the time (whenever it was) that someone made that minor yet preposterous claim, I hadn't the vaguest idea what a New Formalist might be. I certainly was part of no supportive group of poets. How can a writer be a part of a group or movement she knows nothing about? 

These days, I know a good many more poets, yet I still don't know who might be regarded as part of this group that could have been supportive of my writing yet obviously was not. For I would have noticed--years ago--that I was well supported or even minimally supported by other writers. Might I have been a part of some jolly bunch of poets, sailing the seven seas in joy, and not have noticed? My dear Wikipedia, I very much doubt it.

You see, I've never been the least bit good at making "contacts" that might "help me." And I certainly was never embraced by a literary movement. A person notices when she is embraced, whether by a friend or a pushy stranger or even by a whole great big Literary Movement with capital L and M.

The only favor I can recall being done for my poetry was when the late Louis D. Rubin, Jr. asked to see my first poetry manuscript and then sneakily mailed it off to Louisiana State University Press. And they took it, the mad things! Once. I didn't sell enough copies of my first book to be loved by them eternally. If only I had been part of a Literary Movement, you are probably saying to yourself, my dear Wikipedia!  See, you almost admitted the truth there for a moment. But I don't think the book broke 400 copies, way back when. Unfortunately, Claire (I wish I had named it Snow House Stories and Other Poems, as I first intended) hopped around the press like the proverbial hot potato after its first editor took leave to take care of his ailing mother, abandoning my baby. Books need one consistent editor the way a baby needs one consistent mother. (I had two for my first six months of life, but that's another story.) I'm still grateful to Louis for surprising me with that submission. I'd give a great deal to have a chat with him, right now.

What is this New Formalist business? People who write in form who come later than others who write in form? Keats is later than Milton. Pope is later than Shakespeare. People who write in form are simply poets.

That's not what you mean, though... 

Don't tell me. I could just look it up on Wikipedia, but I won't.

No doubt it's the pesky people who tired of the light constraints of free verse and leaped back into terza rima and sonnets and metrical lines and even rhyme. Like me, yes. But evidently they mustered together and created a movement. An actual Movement. Please do not tell me about it. I do not even wish to know. I just wish you, Wikipedia, to delete that bit of illusion, that claim with its air of importance. (Oh, yes, I,  I, I, belong to a Literary Movement. Nope. Never happened.) Perhaps the assertion rises to the level of the currently popular genre, fake news... Except poets are rarely news. I expect Ezra Pound was the last to provide anything we could classify as news, and that wasn't good news.

I may know people who think of themselves with that label. I suppose it is possible. But I don't know who they are, and I don't intend to find out. For me, there are good and memorable poems, and then there are the other poems. The latter no doubt are just as important to their makers as the good and memorable ones are to theirs. Some poems are mayflies, some are mighty Methuselahs. Hoping to catch the next poem as it streams through my mind (mind? spirit?) is what matters to me. I hope it's what matters to most poets (whether they write in form or in some Ivar-the-Boneless manner), though I have encountered poets who had something else entirely in mind.

So dear, sometimes-helpful Wikipedia, note this: People who write in form are merely poets. That's how it has been for thousands of years. And this person--me--who became bored by free verse* long ago is merely a maker of poems and stories, and not part of any movement. And that is all.

I expect you won't do anything about this. After all, it has been more than four years since I wrote you, and I still have this peculiar mark on my forehead. I'll try again in 2024, if the world and I last so long.

See you then!
Marly

*I should say that I do have a manuscript that you might call free verse... It combines influences from several distant traditions. Cultural appropriation, you might say, if you were unwilling to accept that the history of literature is a Silk Road, rejoicing in foreign spice and barter and ingenious theft.

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Anders, Charis, Red King

Another "tiny" at North American Anglican: 


And if you go here on the NAA site, you can take a look at more tinies and a few poems.  Thanks so much to Clinton Collister for requesting poetry and tinies! 

* * *

Clips from new reviews of Charis in the World of Wonders:

Photo by Paul Digby
Photo by Paul Digby

A charming literary work that envelops the reader in the chaotic frontier life of Puritan Massachusetts.
--Historical Novel Society Issue 93, August 2020

Youmans shrewdly presents the collective madness of witch trials as one of many destructive forces in the world — on a level with Indian massacres, concussions, and drowning. As such, the hysteria seems less alien, our modern complacencies less sure, leaving behind the uneasy suspicion that we may be as prone to collective madness as they are, and as blind to it, lulled by the tools we vainly depend upon, just as they depend on their brimstone preaching, to save us from destruction. This sojourn in Charis and the World of Wonders lets us experience reality bare of illusions: life can end at any moment, avoiding grief is folly, joys should be taken gratefully when they come, and creation is full of beauty, fear, mystery, and God.
--novelist H. S. Cross. "In the Liminal Zone," The Living Church (Anglican Communion), 30 July 2020

* * *

And here's a pandemic poem from The Book of the Red King...



The Cloud Like a Child
A Folk Story of the Red King’s Kingdom


A cloud no bigger than a child appeared
And hovered just above the castle spires.
Next the sickness came with evening sweats
That seemed to bleed all force away from those
Who ploughed or pounded hammers at the forge,
Strong souls who laughed at first but later wept.
At night the cloud became a rag of blood
That served to veil the brightness of the moon,
And people said, “The end of the world is near.”
The greater part of the Red Kingdom’s men
Died, and no child was born, for women all
Were barren. So the Red King in that time
Took pity on the sons and daughters who
Were not and seemed unlikely to become:
Three generations he raised them from stones
Until the demon rag was worn to shreds
And lost to every eye except the King’s.
So was preserved the kingdom of his love. 

You may see and hear a reading of the poem here.