Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added)
is the best-kept secret among contemporary American writers.

--John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture

Wednesday, October 07, 2015


At El Mercadito Taqueria, Sylva, North Carolina--
still on the road but back in New York soon.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Notes from the road, with poems--

See prior post for event news...
Detail of Dark Movements Toy Theatre
showing forest and the Mari Lwyd
by artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins
If you're interested in keeping up with my poetry, there are now four poems online at Journal of Mythic Arts that come from the new manuscript inspired by Yoruban praise poems. In addition to the two editor Midori Snyder posted last week, I now see "Night Journey from Kingfisher," a poem inspired by the view of Kingfisher Tower in Otsego Lake that I see from my writing room window, and also "Praise for Dark Movements Toy Theatre," a poem that came out of my friendship with Clive Hicks-Jenkins of Wales, who has beautified many of my books with his art. And he does make the most delicious toy theaters ever!

All is well, despite one major tire blowout and one allergic reaction (oh, the road, the road!), and I had a great time doing events at the Southern Booksellers Alliance Trade Show in Raleigh and soon will be heading off to Richmond for a number of events connected with the Makers Series. 

Thank you to Mary Beth Kosowski and Jenny Waters Toole of Mercer, and hosts Gail MacIntosh and Professor Michael Poteat in Greenville.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

SIBA, Makers Series, City Lights

In this post, my events at: the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance in Raleigh, North Carolina; Makers Series events in Richmond, Virginia ; and City Lights in Sylva, North Carolina

Triangle Reads

  Southeastern Indie Booksellers Alliance trade show

 Spend the day with two dozen authors. 
Sunday, September 20, 2015 
Noon - 5 PM | the Hilton North Raleigh/Midtown 
Tickets: $99 (buy one, get one free, each includes lunch and a $15 voucher for books!) 
Seating is limited to 100 people. 
9:00 AM – 12 Noon – Exhibits OPEN - Grand Ballroom 
“Ingram Booksellers Center” Open 
Gratitude to Inkreadible Sponsor Ingram Content Group! 

Here are my events:
Noon – 2:00 PM – The Moveable Feast of Authors - Salon E Room 
Emcee: Wanda Jewell, SIBA Executive Director
2:00-3:00 Salon B 
Coloring Outside the Lines panel 

 and cocktails later 
and more

Deadline to Register: SEPTEMBER 19th

The Makers Series | Sojourn
“Sojourn” is a word that captures the idea of wandering and travelling far from home, but also lingering and even resting in foreign lands. To sojourn is to willingly stay, engage, and invest in a place or community, even when we recognize that our presence there is temporary and we may always be strangers. Sojourning is related to the idea of “exile,” but carries more of a sense of being sent into that foreign land more than being sent out from a true home. Exiles and sojourners both fervently seek for signposts on their journeys—for direction from the one who has laid out the road ahead. While the language of being spiritual travellers or “resident aliens” should strike a chord with all those who follow Jesus in our secularizing, post-Christian era, it is particularly appropriate when describing the lives and careers of many artists, perhaps especially those who are Christians.
Join us for the next Makers Series evening on Friday, September 25th, at 7:00 p.m. at Third Church (600 Forest Avenue) as we hear from three artists (including designer/photographer Ansel Olsen, singer/songwriter Rebekah White, and poet/novelist Marly Youmans) who have followed roundabout paths to their current creative work. They have also sought to provide signposts for other travellers, too, even as they have discovered them for themselves. RSVP at the Facebook event here.
What is the Makers Series?
The signature program of MakeRVA’s collaborative outreach to and through Richmond’s arts communities, each edition of The Makers Series brings together three “makers”—a writer, a visual artist, and a musician—to discuss their history and practice as artists and believers, touching on a unifying theme. In a coffee house setting with refreshments available throughout, each guest presents for 20 minutes, followed by a moderated conversation between the three and the audience, seeking to find commonalities between each maker’s experiences and to draw out insights about faith, culture, and creativity.

If you're curious about my other events on the Makers Series weekend (I'll be at a workshop and more), see the Events page.


Marly Youmans Returns with a New Novel

Former Cullowhee resident, Marly Youmans will return to City Lights Bookstore on Friday, October 2nd at 6:30 p.m. She will read from her new novel, Maze of Blood. In Conall Weaver, the mundane world and the wonders of the imagination collide and shoot out sparks. Inspired by the life of pulp writer Robert E. Howard, Maze of Blood explores the roots of story and the compulsions and conflicts of the heart in a Southern landscape. Author Midori Snyder says, “a haunting tale of dark obsessions and transcendent creative fire, rendered brilliantly in Youmans' richly poetic prose."
Event date: 
Friday, October 2, 2015 - 6:30pm
Event address: 
3 East Jackson St.
SylvaNC 28779
ISBN: 9780881465365 
Availability: On Our Shelves Now 
Published: Mercer University Press - September 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

The word-twister's news

"Tamlaine" by James Herbert MacNair, 1905
Thank you to Micah Mattix for including Maze of Blood in this morning's Prufrock News. It's a great arts and letters newsletter, and I'm glad to be in it.

Oh! I just found Midori Snyder's lovely, interesting post about my two new poems in The Journal of Mythic Arts. Here it is, in her blog, In the Labyrinth, which is well worth following. She also links to reviews she has written of some of my books.

Night Journey from Kingfisher at The Journal of Mythic Arts
This poem and "Prothalamion for Linnet" are from a new manuscript inspired by Yoruban chants. I'm starting to send them out now and will be thinking about a publisher in the coming year.

Print journal North Carolina Literary Review will be publishing four others from the series,
"Spring Tree Egg,"
"Night Blooming Cereus,"
and "She-Who-Changed."

Prothalamion for Linnet at The Journal of Mythic Arts
And thanks to Midori Snyder for collecting these poems from me!

You can look at the entire archive of poems here.  Endicott Studio is a wonderful site, full of interesting nooks and crannies, put together over many years by those notable women, Midori Snyder and Terri Windling. So stay and look around. It's where I first encountered the art of my friend Clive Hicks-Jenkins, who has beautified so many of my books.

The Annunciation Carved in a Medieval Nut in Books and Culture
Now up online as well as in the print edition.

And if you go here, you can see links to a lot of other poems by me in the magazine, as well as to reviews and "year's best" mentions. The editor, John Wilson, is quite possibly the best-read person I've ever met (well, I've never met him, but you know what I mean!)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Rips in the fabric of culture--

Portrait of the artist as flourishing, flowering...
Division page image by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
for my just-out Maze of Blood (Mercer.)
With this story, inspired by the life
of Texas pulp writer Robert E. Howard,
I got to revel in the life of someone
who died before I was born, who
was unlike me in almost all ways,
save for his love of words.
My third child is now in college, and I've thought a lot about how English departments have changed since the year when I gave back my just-won tenure and promotion and became a full-time writer and then also a mother. Clearly it's now possible in many places to obtain an "English" degree without having much acquaintance with Shakespeare, Chaucer, or Milton, and it's quite possible to have little acquaintance at all with the legacy of the classical world with its great transcendentals. In fact, it is so very possible to go without reading the life-giving, important writers of the past or present that studies tell us many people never bother to read a book again once they graduate from college!

Likewise, I've seen many mentions of MFA students who do not know the tradition--I feel sure that complaint is not always justified, but it appears to be true often enough for many complaints to be made in print. Similarly, the visual arts have suffered from a lack of craft and skills in student training. But what is an artist alone? We are not spiders working and spinning alone but one body with the work of the past--those of our own culture and works in translation as well. Moreover, the tools and techniques of the past are part of how an artist thinks, and without them, he or she is lessened. Artists of all sorts are linked together through time and space, and the fallen generation just past grew out of the work of all previous artists, and the generations alive now from them in turn. To make art out of ourselves like a spider is to ignore all the power, truth, beauty, and good work that came before.

As an inhabitant of a small, often convulsive world, I find alarming the tendency to avoid reading books. Novels and stories and poems are gifts to us across barriers of space and culture and time. They are a vital way for us to experience the mind and living energies of the Other, the person who is not like us, not our sex or race or religion or culture. They are a path to understanding and empathizing with another's mind, heart, and soul. They are often the closest we can come to experiencing--to being pierced and affected by--another's dailiness and pleasures and sorrows. And stories and poems catch us up with the sheer joy of creation.

Without these wonderful little time-and-space collapsers, we are lesser beings, caught inside ourselves, less able to empathize and to love the world in all its shapes and colors, less able to love one another. As a writer, I have been able to stream outside myself and become a seventeenth-century woman in the wilderness (Catherwood), a nineteenth-century soldier (The Wolf Pit), a Texas pulp writer (Maze of Blood), a Depression-era boy in flight (A Death at the White  Camellia Orphanage), a child in a post-apocalyptic world, fastening together the pieces (Thaliad), a painter in the heart of a hill, searching for truth in a labyrinth (Glimmerglass), and much more. My readers have been those things as well, choosing to take my hand in the wondrous storyteller-and-listener dance that has been going on for hundreds, thousands of years.

What can we say in the face of ongoing news of decline, except that there is much more to being alive than what is useful and practical? Without art and culture, we are left in a dry landscape of the useful and practical, without an oasis in sight.

Monday, September 07, 2015

About that wild plum küchen--

How different his life would have been,
if only he had a plentiful supply of küchen...
Perilously few pieces of wild plum küchen remaining in the pottery pan on the kitchen table... Possible conclusions:
1. My husband is a genius of no little moment, as is attested by his wild plum küchen;
2. There still some whipped cream to go on top of küchen;
3. If I wait till afternoon, the küchen may be entirely and woefully gone;
4. If I eat a piece of küchen now, it will definitely be gone in the afternoon, and that will be sad, but not as sad as no. 3;
5. I may be one of the most (risibly) indecisive people on planet Earth, as proven by the continuing debate over whether wild plum küchen is irresistible or (temporarily) resistible;
6. I could easily rectify the indecision dilemma of no. 5 with a judicious application of tea, küchen, and mountains of whipped cream;
6. There are many terrible, intractable, unjust problems in the world to grieve and crack the heart, but there is also wild plum küchen;
7. "At the sight of küchen / Lying on a green glass plate, / Even the bawds of euphony / Would cry out sharply" with apologies to Stevens;
8. Those thin men of Haddam could do with some wild plum küchen;
9. Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE, called Plum, lacked for little except the occasional political understanding and wild plum küchen;
10. Reading Saki's line, "And like every woman who has ever preached repentance to unregenerate youth, she dwelt on the sin of an empty life, which always seems so much more scandalous in the country, where people rise early to see if a new strawberry has happened during the night" while eating wild plum küchen is a very fine thing (Hat tip to Wuthering Expectations);
11. There is Planet X, the perils of Nibiru, and then there is the delight and surprise of wild plum küchen (esp. for Miss Yo-Yo);
12. In all of culinary history (and even in all of Michael's culinary history), there are wondrous delights, and yet there is the testament to tang and taste that is wild plum küchen.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

It's pub date for Maze of Blood--

I'm pleased and touched by the many shares of news about Maze of Blood on Facebook and also on twitter--thanks so much to readers and friends (irl-friends and e-friends) for supporting the book. Maze of Blood on the website here.