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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Two novelists on Seren

Beth Garst of Howl'n Dog Designs
reads Seren on a Virginia porch swing...


I was given a review copy of Seren and couldn’t put it down. It’s lyrical and magical and offers a glimpse of the places usually seen only from the corner of the eye. --novelist Amanda Cockrell

(Amanda Cockrell assigned a review for The Hollins Critic: out soon!)

* * *


...The reader is struck by two things almost immediately. First, the sheer imagination of this work is marvelous. It’s an engaging, enthralling story, part epic, part fairy tale, part Iliad and part Odyssey. It’s the story of a girl who, through no fault of her own, finds herself an actor in an unexpected drama.

The second striking thing is the discipline that’s required to write a work like this. You don’t write 61 poems of 21 ten-syllable lines each followed by a five-line rhyming coda without determination, focus, the self-confidence that you’ll finish it, and even courage to undertake it in the first place.

Simply put, Seren of the Wildwood dazzles while it provokes fundamental questions. Is life simply what’s fated for us, or are we free agents? How do we deal with guilt? How do we accept the responsibilities thrust upon us? How do we live during this perilous journey called life?

...The work is illustrated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, a Welsh artist/illustrator who’s worked with Youmans on all but one of her book covers. He’s illustrated several books for Simon Armitage, the current British Poet Laureate, and also the forthcoming translation of Beowulf by Seamus Heaney for the Folio Society.

Seren of the Wildwood is one of the most imaginative works I’ve read, and especially in poetry. It’s the kind of work that you know is changing you as you read it, and you emerge from it as not quite the same person you were before. It’s not unlike what happens to Seren on her journey through the wildwood.  

--Novelist Glynn Young, "Marly Youmans has written a marvelous epic story." Read more HERE.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

A writer and an artist respond to Seren

Seren, by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
from Seren of the Wildwood
(Wiseblood Books, 2023, hc/pb)


Marly Youmans’s verse-narrative Seren of the Wildwood is a bildungsroman or coming-of-age tale about a young girl named Seren, told in the archetypal-dream language of a fairy tale. Seren experiences the universal realities of the loss of innocence through trauma and betrayal, of the self individuating from the matrix of childhood, of sexual awakening and childbirth, and of finding a relationship to the world via a journey into the ambiguous world of nature, dreams, and encounters with various characters both benevolent and duplicitous. 

I won’t give the story away by describing the details of its plot, so let’s just say that, like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, Seren during her adventures is not in the Kansas of routine life anymore. The characters and the woodland creatures and plants that Seren encounters in Wildwood are either supernatural or natural or both. Fairy tales or myths are stories that take place in the imagination, a middle world between the material and the intellectual ones, where meanings become images and images meanings, and this is where Youmans sets her story. Wildwood is the world of imagination, the inner life of the outer world.       --Poet, translator, essayist Andrew Frisardi


...what’s moved me most is Marly Youmans latest “ Seren of the Wildwood “ handsomely published by Wiseblood Books. Marly’s fairytale ( beautifully illuminated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins) weaves a complexity of archetypes and sensations , one recalls the lays of Chrétien, Rossetti’s “Goblin Market," the psychoanalytic work of Melanie Klein. Youmans, in her telling this tale explained to me the ambivalence Grendel’s mother must have felt for her challenging offspring. It’s a rich story, one I recommend highly; so rich in fact that I needed to place my impressions upon paper, which follows in the second image. Marly is a gifted visionary, her many published works reflect her unique talents, in “Seren” she presents a tale of no particular time or place, magical yet not absurdist, familiar yet surprising. Wiseblood Books has a convenient site to order from, a range of many attractive offerings (which I’ve already been tempted and eagerly await arrival), to those liminally inclined, I suggest a visit, you will not be disappointed.     --Artist Leonard D. Greco of L.A. and Chicago

Response to Seren of the Wildwod
from artist Leonard D. Greco

And there are many new images on social media as well...

Friday, March 17, 2023

Seren of the Wildwood March readings--

Saturday, March 18  3:00
Reading with Sally Thomas
City Lights Bookstore 
3 East Jackson St.
Sylva, North Carolina

Thursday, March 23 7:00 p.m.
Reading with Sally Thomas
Goldberry Books
12 Union St. South
Concord, North Carolina
(980) 439-5050

Friday, March 10
Launch Party near D. C.
The Washington Review: "Charles and Tessa Carman will host novelist and poet Marly Youmans [“the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.” —John Wilson] for a house reading and signing of her new novel-in-verse Seren of the Wildwood (Wiseblood Books) on Friday, March 10, at 7 p.m. Interested folks can RSVP tlccarman[at]"

Thanks to the Carman family for a wonderful launch party!

Monday, March 06, 2023

Launch Day, March 6

Seren at the home of poet and writer
David Russell Mosley
(Wiseblood Books)

Launch Day review from poet/translator/writer Jonathan Geltner at the Slant Books blog. Wiseblood Books notes that it "situates the poem within the world of fantasy & showcases a few beautiful excerpts." To read, fly HERE.

I'm celebrating having survived Covid and reached Launch Day with some ginger tea... sitting here under the rosy shadow of a whole forest of amaryllis blooms...

Seren of the Wildwood is the weekly feature of Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. To see, go HERE. And thanks to editor Christine Klocek-Lim!

And HERE is a Launch-Day newsletter from Wiseblood Books, with a link to a hardcover Launch-Day discount in celebration...