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Friday, August 12, 2022


My beautiful child!

"The Beautiful Child Contest is now underway at the Cow and Sheep Barn." 

Last night I went to the Schoharie County Fair with my husband and youngest--Demo Derby! Royal Hannaford Circus! Gaudy rides! Crazy carnival eats! And all the joys of beribboned rabbits and hares, cows and sheep and friendly goats.


Hurrah for a lovely new review from Sarah Collister at The North American Anglican. I'm grateful that this book, launched in the most uncertain part of the pandemic, is still receiving reviews two years on.

Sample clip:

Youmans takes readers on a triumphant yet honest journey from death to new life in the ten chapters of her luminous novel.

I had the hardest time reviewing this book because every time I picked up to work on the review, I ended up getting lost in the narrative once again. Though the themes of this tale are quite serious ‒ death, loss, and new life ‒ Youmans’ prose is still dazzling and joyful, repeating the profound Biblical metaphor that darkness often brings further illumination to the light.

For the whole review, go HERE.

Art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Find him at


The poem has been typeset, two of three requested blurb comments are already in, and I need to make a list of places that or people who might be interested in reviewing for Wiseblood Books. Clive Hicks-Jenkins will be at work on the illumination this fall. They typeset version looks highly symmetrical and handsome, as each little section is blank verse followed by bob-and-wheel.


Poems are coming out here and there... 

I've agreed to be on the judging panel for a national poetry award. And that's a bit insane, as life is overly busy already. But I should learn a thing or two.

And there's this splashy event: Makoto Fujimura's latest book, Art and Faith, was an inspiration for Holy Ground, premiered recently at our own Glimmerglass Opera, and I was invited by Mako to the pre-opera picnic and premier. It's always lovely to see him, but I also got to meet his new wife, Haejin Shim Fujimura (co-founder of Embers International), as well as Holy Ground's librettist Lila Palmer and composer Damien Geter, and Lila's composer husband Josh Palmer. 

The other side of the table...
Damien Geter, Lila Palmer, Makoto Fujimura


  1. On the judging panel you may wreak havoc on all the poets you believe to be overrated. OK, OK. it isn't something you may announce to the world at large but push for a blind ballot. And keep a straight face when the results are read out.

    Best of all employ what you've done as subject for a poem of your own - the more obscure form (Villanelle, Sestina, Rondeau, etc) the better.

    1. We can't see who they are! And I have not recognized anyone so far.... We just winnow down to 8-12, so we three not responsible for final choices.

      Sorry I have been so busy--I need to find more small bits of time to fly by Tone Deaf, that is certain.

    2. No need to visit Tone Deaf; the most recent post is concerned with politics and I know how much that races your motor. On the other hand I daydream about whether there are limits to your non-involvement: boundaries crossed that were thought uncrossable, gross infringements of human rights, citizens discomforted (should that be discomfited?) by having to make the financial choice between heating and eating.

      I realise most Americans show little interest in what is happening in the UK once they've commented on our new king (Charles III; let's hope he steers clear of the views expressed by his nomenclatural predecessor bar one). But things have been just a wee bit hairy of late; politics aside, this is the land of William Blake and Wilfred Owen and you may be glad for their sakes that they are both quite dead. Thus beyond the turmoil.

      That said there are little anti-political hidey-holes. On Saturday two prime-time hours on Channel 4 devoted to The Waste Land. Followed (yesterday) on the same channel by four hours mainly devoted to The Four Quartets, including an enactment of the same, from memory, by Ralph Fiennes the actor. Ah, you say (or I hope you say) what bliss! Qualified bliss, alas. The present government - a political entity, do you need reminding? - wants to wreck the financial structure of Channel 4 and turn it into a more familiar TV format, complete with commercials every eye-blink. Who cares? But is this a time to remain silent?

    3. Oh, I have plenty of thoughts about politics and do volunteer and so forth; I'm just strongly against the idea of being so big-headed as to think one obscure writer should fancy herself a celebrity and dump her ideas onto the passing populace! I am rather Twain-minded and have a general allergy to politicians of all parties. But I also am frequently disgusted by "our betters" making large pronouncements. I don't want to join that tribe. I prefer volunteering to make a local difference, but I also don't want to talk about that either, although such things are interesting and sad and full of touching stories.

      And I also happen to think that books are experiences that may be helpful to some. I hope so.

      I am rather curious about Charles's relationship to artisans and domestic architecture via the Prince's School, Poundbury, etc. Saw this interesting quote from the marvelous Charleston-based architect Andrew Gould in a comment on a podcast by icon carver J. Pageau: Charles III "has literally spent his entire life defending and supporting traditional beauty and liturgical art, even founding the world's only graduate-level program for the practice of traditional liturgical arts. He is almost unbelievably perfectly aligned with the artistic agenda that you and I live and breathe. A man like that becoming king in this modern age is nothing short of a miracle."

    4. p. s. But feel free to be a political voice yourself--I don't mind other people doing such things. I demand some things from and restrictions for myself that I do not demand from others.

    5. p. p. p. s. As I have been in North Carolina for a week in February and for the months of March, April, and September to take care of much family business and health needs, you really can't credit me with enough time to think about politics in a way that would be helpful, anyway. I'm either away and working hard or home and trying to catch up on work here and also much-needed sleep. That's my life this year, and probably next as well.

    6. It must have seemed I was prying and I'll not raise the subject of politics again. Only to say that I didn't do so with regard to your comments being "helpful" on the subject, rather for a wider view of your opinions. Selfish and typically journalistic of me. As Eliot has said: England is not a particularly religious country but the English are fascinated by people who are religious. It is a tricky matter for Christians. After all, the Archbishop of Canterbury has problems - relating, I suppose, to the separation of powers - on whether or not to comment on the possible morality, or lack of it, of various government decisions.

      I see you are better informed on Charles III than I am, I wasn't even aware that "liturgical art" existed although as a parish church choirboy (while still a treble) I suppose I participated in a very minor way towards the expression of the liturgy.

      Just to bring you up to date on Charles, you may be aware that our coinage used to carry the abbreviation "fid. def." which I doubt I'll need to translate for you. This has now disappeared though I'm not sure when. Nor of the ostensible reasons. However and to give Charles credit, during the accession he announced he would rather be known as the defender of ALL the faiths. Since Liz Truss's government has had other more important fish to fry, and is presently as hollow as a discarded pizza carton, this potential politics/religion clash has gone unnoticed.

      My sympathy regarding the domestic responsibilties you outline in the p.p.p.s. It brings back (admittedly distant) echoes of my mother's troubled life. My parents were divorced and, despite my father's wealth and he being the guilty party, my mother was forced to pursue demanding work in a hospital diet kitchen in order to make ends meet, fitting in novel writing and poetry (her true vocations) where she could. Just when more time became available my widowed maternal grandmother came to live and my mother found herself playing Scrabble in the evenings which she would have preferred to have spent in front of the typewriter, My grandmother lived to 96 and my mother died from a combination of chronic conditions at the comparatively early age of 66. Discussing the irony of her situation my mother (who had Christian and, later, Sufist leanings) stressed the importance of trying not to be bitter. Your situation is, of course, not really parallel but I for one am well aware of how it feels when one is short of time which could be spent writing.

      One odd side-effect. Throughout my mother's life I had no interest in poetry regarding it as "too embarrassingly personal". Gradually the interest grew and eventually I wrote perhaps the only sonnet I'm proud off on the agonies of being in the USA while my mother was dying in the UK. She encouraged my novel writing but death overtook her before we were able to discuss poetry. She would have enjoyed that. More irony.

    7. Interesting and sad about your mother--she sounds determined and dutiful and full of yearnings. Being in the middle of generations is often a hard place for women, especially for a single mother. I admire what you say of her and think she sounds very appealing in the midst of her troubles. The world is such a braid of difficult, often heartbreaking stories. And I think it is often a death that makes us discover some latent thing, and surely your growing care for poetry brought you closer to your mother, even after her death. Time is a strange substance, and perhaps in peculiar ways we go backward and forward in it more than we can know.

      I can't really bemoan the various large issues I'm dealing with, as they're all strands in my life. And writers deal with that weirdness of everything being not exactly material (though some writers are tight-bound to facts about their own lives) but strange nutriment. Because we make ourselves when we make. And using our own lives and those of others can make people feel guilty and at fault if we are not thoughtful about such things from the start. Lucky for me, I've never been much drawn by what's called (erroneously, in great part) realism, nor by confessional work. Threads from my own life seem to wind into stories and poems in subterranean ways, transformed greatly.

      Charles... I don't really know that much about him other than his interest in the arts. He is quite congruent, it seems, with his father's roots--Eastern Orthodoxy--in his concern for beauty; in the states, Orthodoxy appears to be producing architects like Andrew Gould, who have a strong need for artisans and handwork and have a love for tradition and liturgy and the transcendentals. Not in the sense of copying the past but going forward through the past and tradition, I would say. Perhaps a pull in that direction makes King Charles temper his role in the Anglican church. Or perhaps the sense of changelessness and clarity and the focus not on sermons but on the Eucharist appeals to him in a time when mainstream Protestant churches are declining in numbers and seem uncertain about what to affirm and how to relate to a fast-shifting culture. No idea, really, what he thinks. But he might make a difference in the arts and religion....


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.