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Honors, praise, etc.

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Marly Youmans is a Carolinian astray in snowy upstate New York. She writes poetry, stories, and novels. She is married and has two sons and a daughter. That's probably enough for one person to admit, isn't it?

Selected honors and posts
  • ForeWord Book of the Year Award Finalist for Maze of Blood, 2015
  • ForeWord Book of the Year Award Finalist for Glimmerglass, 2014
  • Silver Prize in General Fiction category, ForeWord Book of the Year Awards, A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, 2012
  • ForeWord Book of the Year Award Finalist for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, 2012
  • The Ferrol Sams Award for A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, 2012
  • Judge, Aldrich Press Poetry Prize, 2013 (Kelsay Books)
  • Judging panel, National Book Award for Young People's Literature, 2012
  • Writer-in-Residence, Hollins University, 2010 
  • Yaddo fellowship, 2007 
  • Arts member (with Makoto Fujimura), Faith as a Way of Life, a national working group under Miroslav Volf at Yale Divinity School, 2003-2007
  • The Michael Shaara Award of The United States Civil War Center (Louisiana State University) for The Wolf Pit, 2001
  • Short list (with Barry Hannah and winner Bobbie Ann Mason), The 2002 Southern Book Award of The Southern Book Critics Circle for The Wolf Pit
  • Theodore Hoepfner awards (2) for the best short story of the year in The Southern Humanities Review
  • Capital Magazine (Albany) “New Writers” award (1K, publication, and a reading at The Shaker Museum) for "Tall Jorinda," 1989
  • The New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, 1991 
  • The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellowship

Selected speaking engagements

Makers Series at Third Church, Richmond; Pen Parentis Literary Salon, New York; Southern Independent Booksellers Association conferences; Festival of the Book, Nashville; Yale Divinity School FWL conference; Fujimura Institute Culture Care Summit at Cairn University; Bright Hill Literary Center; Antioch Writers Workshop; Mid-Atlantic Library Alliance conference; West Chester Poetry Conference; WSKG; Aberystwyth University, Wales; KGB Fantastic Fiction, New York; and more, including many library and bookstore events.

Collaboration across the arts; artwork responding to poems and fiction
  • Mary Boxley Bullington, "The King and the Fool" (multi-media painting)
  • Paul Digby, seven video responses to my poems 
  • Makoto Fujimura, "The Pilgrim Soul" (story and paintings based on it presented several times at a Yale Divinity School conference.) 
  • Clive Hicks-Jenkins, various: cover/jacket, Val/Orson; jacket, The Throne of Psyche (detail from an existing painting); cover and interior art, The Foliate Head; cover/jacket and interior art, Thaliad; jacket and interior art, Glimmerglass; jacket and interior art, Maze of Blood
  • Kim Vanderheiden, sequence of paintings with letter press elements in response to a poem from the sequence, The Book of the Red King
  • Graham Ward, poems-for-paintings project for a solo show in the U.K.


When I think of Marly Youmans’ work, the word that comes to mind is “magic.” By this, I mean not only her language, but her evocation of mystery. Youmans’ poems always seem utterly new and startlingly familiar. Moreover, she has admirable range in terms of subject matter and tone. While I tend to favor her poems about the mythological, Youmans shows astonishing skill, whatever the subject. She is a poet working at the height of her powers.
Kim Bridgford, poet, editor, Mezzo Cammin, and Director, Poetry by the Sea

Marly Youmans is a great writer. Her prose is immaculate. 

Laird Barron, novelist and writer

Youmans (pronounced like "yeoman" with an "s" added) is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers. She writes like an angel--an angel who has learned what it is to be human.
John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Magazine

I cannot recommend an author more than Marly Youmans, whose fantastic prose is absolutely gorgeous and haunting. 
Sebastien Doubinsky (Denmark), novelist and writer

My friend Marly Youmans is one of America's finest writers. Anyone who knows her work even slightly would have little trouble reaching that conclusion. From the very beginning of my awareness of her work, I realized that her voice was unique, her grasp of technique in poetry and fiction stunning, and her imagination boundless. She seems to combine two impossible-to-resolve things simultaneously: traditional forms and an edgy, almost avant-garde sensibility.
Philip Lee Williams, novelist, poet, writer

Youmans, one of the biggest secrets of contemporary American fiction, writes with freshness and beauty. Whether she’s writing historical fiction or fantasy, her characters leave one breathless. Her ability to describe a person, a place, or the psychological underpinnings of a plot or individual, ranks with the great novelists, the highest literature. 
Jeffery Beam, poet 

When a person reads a Marly Youmans poem, all the spaces ‘round about fall silent. The busy world is hushed, and her words, each one perfect and pinned in its perfect place, rise into the silence and burst into light. I, a poor mortal, can explain her work in no other terms.
Howard Bahr, novelist

Marly Youmans is brilliant, perhaps a genius... Her formal poems are impeccable and include sestinas, villanelles, rondels, rhyming schemes she may have invented, and perfect metrical patterns. Every poet can learn from this poet, and the reader—the reader will be spellbound.
Kelly Cherry, poet and novelist

Youmans is a writer of rare ability whose works will one day be studied by serious students of poetry.
Greg Langley, former Books Editor of The Baton Rouge Advocate

In the long run any publisher who will publish Marly Youmans will be building a back-list that will be as valuable as Eudora Welty's or Flannery O'Connor's.
Louis D. Rubin, Jr., critic, novelist, chaired professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, founder of the Hollins creative writing program and Algonquin Books

Books and books and a red dragon
from novelist Clare Dudman


  1. Here is the bio from a previous website... rather different, perhaps more informative!

    Marly’s parents came from Georgia, and she was born over the state line in Aiken, South Carolina. Growing up, she lived in many places but favorites were the Carolinas, plus Gramercy and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. In Gramercy she spoke Cajun French (which, alas, she has forgotten), fished, wore live green-and-pink lizard earrings, and grew a magical garden that grew into the trees--fed by sugar slag from the local refinery where her father was a chemist. When she lived up north, her teacher thought that she must be mentally defective, a drawl indicating some general torpor in thought processes! The place where she has had the longest ties is Cullowhee, North Carolina, where her mother and father retired from Western Carolina University as Head of Serials at Hunter Library and Professor of Analytical Chemistry; she still visits at least twice a year. Currently she lives in New York, a place that is a bit like the Snow Queen’s palace: too cold for mortals and, although still on the Appalachian spine, too far away from the Carolinas. Marly is married (of course--why else would she be living in a Yankee snow drift?) and the mother of two sons and a daughter; she writes when she is not ferrying children.

  2. Trying to get in touch with you, Marly. Am an old (literally...gulp) college friend. So glad to hear of your successes. Remember Mr. Purdy? He'd be so proud (; Hope that I went on right fb page to friend you. Not sure. Anyway, my best wishes to you on your very successful writing career. Hugs! Shelly Hyatt-Blankman

  3. Hi Shelly!

    Very pleased to hear from you--shall go look on fb right now--

  4. Hmm, don't see it--or you! Here's my fb page:

  5. Or email me at smaragdineknot (at) gmail (dot) com...

  6. Ms Youmans

    So glad, but sad to find your blog post about Fae Malania's death several years ago. I just read her book (the original edition) this past weekend. I was not totally surprised that Malania had died, but was glad to learn that she had more success recently. It was serendipity that helped me find her book. I am glad that Malania had friends with her at the end. Thank you for what you have written.

  7. Hi Patty Franz--

    As deaths go, she had a calm one. Many of us were fond of her, and she was not alone in her old age, even though her husband and stepson died before her.

    We had several lovely parties for her book, and I will always be grateful that the reprint happened before she died. Some day when I have a little more time, I mean to do a Fae-blog, as I was given some of her unpublished and out-of-print writings.

  8. I just want to let you know that your short story, An Incident at Agate Beach, is really superb. It touched me when I first read it in ways I could not quite explain to myself.
    After a housefire, in which all my pets were killed and quite a bit was lost, it took a long time for me to feel like doing anything, even reading. One of the first things I did, as I worked my way back, was find a copy of the anthology (mine lost in the fire) and re-read this story. I don't know why it was so profoundly comforting, but I wanted to thank you.

  9. Oh, Chrystal--

    That is so lovely; I am so glad that it meant something to you, and that it was consoling. I am sorry that you were wrenched from your nest by fire, and that your animals died. And I'm glad to have had a little healing place in your imagination. Thank you for telling me! Such things mean a lot.

    Good cheer,

  10. Dearest--Your "blog" is beautiful. I am so proud of you. I got fired from my college--not everyone can say he has been banned from two college campuses--so I have my own "Internet" and a personal address for electric mail, viz.: How'd you like the Southern sign--ha!


    1. You were too good for the pair of them! Note on the way.

  11. You should NOT seek praise from EARTHLINGZ;
    you should seek praise from Almighty God
    whom we MUST stand before soon.
    This might help you:
    ♡ ♡

    1. You know, when I list something online, it is not for me. It is to help my books find readers. I serve my books, the thing I am called to make. I expect you can understand that. And that is also why I left academia and live in a rather obscure way, so that I can make my books.


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.