Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The Great Pandemic Book Launch and Frolic; otherwise known as the Marvelous, the Mystical, the Fantastical Saint Patrick's Day Book Party for Marly Youmans's Charis in the World of Wonders

Ethereal Reception to Follow
Place: In your airy, wondrous imagination
Book release date: 17 March 2020 St. Patrick's Day
Time: 12:01 a.m. - 11:59 p.m.
Book Party Saint: Patrick, naturellement!
* * *
available at indies and online outlets
Amazon and bn.com

* * *
Praise for 
Charis in the World of Wonders

Charis in the World of Wonders confirms once more Marly Youmans' place among the magi. There is indeed ‘a dark and amazing intricacy in the ways of Providence’, as this spellbinding novel attests.”
—John Wilson, Contributing Editor, Englewood Review of Books

“Charis is a prismatic grace journey that awakens our dulled senses and ignites our adventurous hearts. A seventeenth-century girl pilgrim, with dark shadows of Salem foreboding over her, begins a refractive journey as a faithful exile toward a golden sea.”
—Makoto Fujimura, Artist; Author of Culture Care and Silence and Beauty

“Imagine if William Faulkner had decided to rewrite Last of the Mohicans. What you would have is something like Charis in the World of Wonders—a wild adventure tale written with grace and insight.  Youmans' prose is fluid, sharply witty, and deeply rich in symbolism—the work of a master.”
—J. Augustine Wetta, OSB, Author of The Eighth Arrow and Humility Rules

“Youmans’ magnificent storyteller brings the early days of Europeans on the American continent vividly to life, in all their wonder and sorrow.”
—Emily Barton, Author of Brookland and The Book of Esther

“From the pen of an award-winning novelist and poet comes the story of Charis, a girl who loses everything and finds love and acceptance in an age of fear and uncertainty. This book is that rare thing, a novel containing characters who are both historically accurate and completely relatable.”
—Fiorella De Maria, Author of A Most Dangerous Innocence and The Sleeping Witness

A writer I greatly admire and have sometimes written about, Marly Youmans, has a new book coming late in March from Ignatius Press: Charis in the World of Wonders, with cover art and illustrations by the incomparable Clive Hicks-Jenkins. This novel, set in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, should occasion a piece that tackles the whole sweep of Youmans’s work. She’s not part of any fashionable faction, and much as I would be delighted and surprised to see it receive generous attention in the New York Times Book Review and other such outlets, I am mainly hoping that First Things, Commonweal, Image, and other kindred publications will not let this opportunity pass.  
—John Wilson, "Desiderata," First Things 

* * *
from writers and artists on social media

James Artimus Owen, writer and artist: This book, written by my dear friend Marly and illuminated by one of my great inspirations, my friend Clive, is a great example of What Truly Matters in the world. What keeps me going in a world of seemingly ever increasing darkness? Shining lights. Just like this.

Makoto Fujimura, nihongan painter, cultural catalyst, writer: Ok. Cannot help to tweet. “Charis”, Marly’s next novel coming out, is one of the most beautifully wrought writings of the “burning bushes” all about us that I’ve encountered in recent times.  Absolutely mesmerizing novel. #kintsuginovel #culturecare

John Wilson, editor: Every writer is in a sense sui generis, but some to a greater degree than others--@marlyyoumans, for instance. 

Makoto Fujimura: What a stunning, beautiful story Charis is. I can’t stop thinking of it. Hortus continues to roam in my mind, bringing all of us to freedom.

* * *

“When I swung over that windowsill, everything changed for me. We are meant to go in and out of doors in civilized style, but my mother bade me climb into woodsy wildness and a darkness flushed with crimson light and torches…” 
Clambering into the branches of a tree, a young woman flees flaming arrows and massacre. She will need to struggle for survival: to scour the wilderness for shelter, to strive and seek for a new family and a setting where she can belong. Her unmarked way is costly, heroic, hard.
For Charis, the world outside the window of home is a maze of hazards. And even if she survives the wilds, it is no small, simple matter to discover and nest among her own kind—the godly, those called Puritans by others. She may be tugged by her desires for companionship, may even stumble into a sharp, intense love for a man, and may be made to try the strength of female heroism in ways no longer familiar to women in our century. 
Streams of darkness run through the seventeenth-century villages of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Occult fears have a way of creeping into the mind. And what young woman can be safe from the dangers of wilderness when its shadowy thickets spring up so easily in the soil of human hearts?

* * *

A note from the illuminator:

Marly Youmans' historic novel 'Charis in the World of Wonders' chronicles the journey of its protagonist on her horseback flight from destruction to sanctuary and from sanctuary to an unexpected madness that had me gnawing my knuckles as I read.

Marly is a peerless writer and at Ignatius she has an editor and team doing everything to ensure that the book's jacket and the illustrations within do justice to her illuminating narrative. Not for the first time with Marly I'm steeped in a world of early American folk art, of embroidered samplers and nature not yet crowded out by man. At its heart, Charis on her courageous Hortus, who must carry her to safety and a new life. The image here is just a tiny corner of the cover artwork. It has been, as it always is in the company of Marly, a revelatory journey.

--Clive Hicks Jenkins, pilfered from facebook

Friday, March 13, 2020

Sally Thomas, Motherland


Paperback / softback
ISBN: 978-1-77349-043-4
Digital Formats: Amazon Kindle | Barnes & Noble NOOK 
| KOBO | Google Play / Android | Apple iBooks
Publication Date: May 29, 2020
Page Count: 126 Pages

Publisher's Note: 

In Sally Thomas’s Motherland, the poet keenly observes the ephemeral and the everlasting in the lens of time—the daily into seasonal transformations, the gifts and wonders of nature and people. Motherland by turns hails and interrogates in matters of flesh, of faith and spirituality—especially so in the “Richeldis of Walsingham” poem sequence. This finalist in the Able Muse Book Award is a collection abounding in insight, hope, grace, surprises, and yes, love.

Praise for Motherland: 

A core of spiritual knowledge resides in the poems of Sally Thomas’s Motherland— knowledge that might seem strange to the poet herself, in fact, though it definitely resides in her, and radiates throughout this collection. Motherland is the perfect title, since the poet, herself a mother, regards all her human occupations as native and yet mysterious, occurring in a place which is both foreign and familiar.  The final sequence, on Richeldis of Walsingham, includes lines that describe the expression of that knowledge, as “the eloquence/ Of the small river moving always forward to the unseen/ Sea.” Motherland is a book of the presence—radiant, benevolent, challenging—for which there is often no word, except as we find in poetry, like the poetry of Sally Thomas.” —Mark Jarman, author of The Heronry

The poems of Sally Thomas are poems in which the act of looking at the world in all its depth and complexity is just about as close as possible to being fully realized in the corresponding “world” of poetic language and form. And the verses are compelling because in every line something is at stake: our very understanding of creation, the human condition, and the mystery of thought and its language that link us, however imperfectly, to what may be called the given world. As Thomas says in “Frost,” “Tricky winter light and my own eye/ Bend the world, if not to beauty, then/ To strangeness.”

  —David Middleton (from the foreword), author of The Fiddler of Driskill Hill

In her most recent collection of poems, Motherland, Sally Thomas gives us a world we live in but, alas, too often don’t seem to see. So much is lost, these poems tell us, even as they manage to reinstate and re-imagine these losses for us. All poetry is elegiac, even as it can, in the hands of a serious poet, celebrate the very world which for all of us keeps slipping away in the great wheel of time. Then too there is her mastery of poetic form—among these the sonnet, the villanelle, the couplet, and her unparalleled command of rhyme and slant rhyme. What a delight to discover a poet who has found a way to allow the sacred and the sacramental inform her poems in a surprising range of contemporary idioms.

  —Paul Mariani, author of Epitaphs for the Journey

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Jeffery Beam, Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements

Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements
Poems: Jeffery Beam
Paintings: Clive Hicks-Jenkins

Kin Press, 2019
92 pp.
ISBN-10: 099892931X
ISBN-13: 978-0998929316

Available worldwide. You may purchase online at retailers such as Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble, or request through your local bookstore. The first 500 purchasers can receive from the poet, upon request, a CD recording of the poems. (Details inside book.)
Booksellers: Please contact your distributor or Ingram (800-937-8000, thinkbooks@ingramcontent.com).

"A Hero’s journey 
through death, resurrection, psychological and spiritual trials, and revelations 
into redemptive vision." 

Features twenty-one full color illustrations, sixteen poems, and illuminating essays by Sarah Parvin, Mary-Ann Constantine, and Claire Pickard. Book design by J.C. Mlozanowski.

A note on the book's unusual form

It seems a bit self-serving to say much about this book when I've shared Jeffery's magical comments on my work... but there is a striking issue I may safely discuss without accusation: that is, I think many poets will look at this lovely volume and find in it new ways of thinking about presenting their work in book form. And it's not just because there's an accompanying CD available. And yes, the book is visually ravishing, unlike most poetry books, but it also lets others illumine the works within by introduction and essays. Jeffery doesn't have to simply rely on the poems and art to tell a story but also lets us overhear the thoughts of some rarified readers and viewers. So we have a sort of little library between two covers with poems, introduction, essays, CD, and art: it appeals to eye, to ear, to touch.


from Dan Barnett, Chico Enterprise-Record:  "Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements" ($21.95 in paperback from Kin Press, kinpress.org) includes fifteen poems, one song, three essays (including the one by Parvin), and nearly two dozen paintings.

In one sense the Mari Lwyd is Halloween-frightening. "I am Pegasus Spectral/ Pegasus Reversed" the poet writes; "I am your nightmare-longing toward dust/ Be not afraid. // Stop shaking/ Every funeral prophesies resurrection...."

In "Drift," "Mari Mari Lwyd having never spoken your name/ your name becalms me/ Right hand to heart left hand gloved closed holding a secret/ Void's origin waiting to be opened/ for you as you are for me my stalwart."

A secret? Two, actually. In "Pegasus," the words have a particular resonance: "Liberty and Love the two Great Secrets/ Making the Divine Mind smile/ Making Death forget himself and sing/ Paradise regained/ Without contraries is no progression."

“And so, before the totally singular manifestation of this visionary work, I humbly call on William Rossetti, in the 19th century, who said, in his awe before the Illuminated Books of Blake: The genius ‘is not forestalled by predecessors, nor to be classed with contemporaries, nor to be replaced by known or readily surmisable successors.’”  –Poet Kent Johnson. Author of Homage to the Last Avant-Garde and I Once Met: A Partial Memoir of the Poetry Field.

“After Postmodern dismembering, now horribly enacted in the political sphere, comes hope where alienation is addressed and danced into healing by body, ecstasy and myth. The result in this superb work is a shamanic re-membering that renews self, consciousness, being and world. Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements is an extraordinary and numinous collaboration between a poet and painter that invokes the archaic roots of art itself in the Paleolithic caves where ritual, religion, painting and song were born. Uniting word and paint by reconnecting with pre-Christian rites in Europe, Native American heritage and the intense participation in the collaborative must made possible by the internet, Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements is soul food; it shapes dark energies into the emerging of new being. Archetypal, Jungian and visionary; this book's amazing art is an inspirational treatment for modern suffering.” –Dr. Susan Rowland Professor, Pacifica Graduate Institute. Author of Remembering Dionysus: Revisioning Psychology and Literature in C. G. Jung and James Hillman and Jung: A Feminist Revision.

“I can think of no other poet than the true bard, Jeffery Beam, who so elegantly, so riskily, layers into his language plain-speak and grandeur. Spectral Pegasus marshals with palpable force the library that is Beam’s heart, the garden that is his imagination, distilled through the maestro’s ear and the provocateur’s wit. He folds language into an entirely new province, something all its own, wholly original, yet gathering the tribes and kin of its influence, of its own making. When he writes in ‘The Quickening,’ ‘My daily urge walks a land without similarity teeming,’ I can only rejoinder with Amen. This is a gorgeous book by a simply splendid poet.” –Former North Carolina Poet Laureate Joseph Bathanti. Author of Half of What I Say Is Meaningless, The 13th Sunday after Pentecost, and co-editor of the forthcoming The Anthology of Black Mountain College Poetry.

“Beam’s is a startled and startling, all-body, all-spirit response to the gift and terror that rode roughshod and wondrous into his creative life like an annunciation, in the form of Hicks-Jenkins’s numinous, luminous horse.” –Poet Damian Walford Davies. Head, School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University. Author of Alabaster Girls and Docklands.

from an interview at ekphrastic.net:

TER: How do you approach ekphrastic writing? Do you contemplate a random image until words come together, or do you wait until a work of art speaks to you and find your way in from there? Do you research the background of a painting or photograph, or the biography of the artist, or do you let the image alone spark your words?

Jeffery Beam: [Laughter].  All of the above.  It has been different every time, although I would never say any image has been random.  I come across an image that perhaps I just simply love, or an image uncovered in research about an artist or place I am drawn to, or perhaps the Universe sends me an image [as when a friend sent me the image of Andrea del Sarto’s John the Baptist, although this friend didn’t know that for years I had been fascinated by the Baptist’s story and the many works of art of him]. I think generally the discovery of an inspiring image has come out of my readings and studies of art and art movements or visits to museums, and less frequently biographies. Once the image has me the response can be very different.  On some occasions the poem births immediately.  Other times I have returned to the knowledge base about the work or the artist or the subject and then let the poem come. Always, though, a moment arrives when you have to let the image speak. I have been fortunate in that throughout my writing life I have seldom had much revision to do after the first draft; what revision needed is accomplished aloud.

The new book, Spectral Pegasus / Dark Movements, as mentioned above, came out of a sympathy and love for the work of Hicks-Jenkins.  He was working in subjects that beguiled me, and in that case, Clive chose the subject, and I became its captive. It was the first and only time I have written ekphrastic work that was chosen for me.  The essay in the book, "I Dreamed a Dream," by Sarah Parvin explains how I entered the project thinking I was going to be writing in my customary distinctive style “often elegant, sometimes aphoristic, Objectivist, concisely crisp, Gnostic and Zen-like.”  I quickly realized the poems weren’t flourishing. I gave myself over, as a result, to a sort of automatic writing, much like my youthful surrealist work. Meditating in front of an image for hours and waiting for it to speak.  It always did and each poem, every time, gobsmacked me … I can’t think of a better term. The encounters were great fun, and each time felt like becoming a child again. Those unexpected visions.

About Jeffery

Jeffery Beam's many award-winning works include The Broken Flower (Skysill Press, England), Gospel Earth (Skysill Press, England), Visions of Dame Kind (The Jargon Society), An Elizabethan Bestiary: Retold (Horse & Buggy), The New Beautiful Tendons: Collected Queer Poems 1969-2012 (Spuyten Duyvil-Triton), Light and Shadow (Aperture), and The Fountain (NC Wesleyan College Press). His spoken word CD with multimedia What We Have Lost: New and Selected Poems 1977-2001 was a 2003 Audio Publishers Award finalist. Beam's latest works are Jonathan Williams: The Lord of Orchards (co-edited with Richard Owens, Prospecta Press, 2018), and a virtual chapbook Don't Forget Love (Dispatches from the Poetry Wars, 2018, dispatchespoetrywars.com/virtual-chapbooks/2018/04/ dont-forget-love-by-jeffrey-beam). The song cycle, Life of the Bee (composer Lee Hoiby) continues to be performed on the international stage and can be heard, along with a Beam reading of the texts, on Albany Record's New Growth, a recording of the Carnegie Hall premiere. Limited fine editions include An Invocation (Country Valley Press), On Hounded Ground: Home and the Creative Life (Bookgirl Press, Japan), MountSeaEden (Chester Creek Press), and Eno Crow (Horse & Buggy Press). A number of young composers have worked and are working with his poetry. Steven Serpa premiered the cantata Heaven's Birds: Lament and Song (based on three New Beautiful Tendons poems) on Boston's World AIDS Day 2008. His tone poem An Invocation premiered for string quartet in 2014 (Spartanburg, SC) and in 2016 as a symphonic piece (Austin Symphony). Serpa premiered The Creatures: A Bestiary Retold (Austin, 2016) and also plans a song cycle of gay love poems. Holt McCarley premiered an instrumental piece, The Hyena, from the Bestiary (St. Louis, 2015) and is working on two cycles based on Beam nature and love poems. 2015 also saw the premier of a Daniel Thomas Davis chamber opera Kith & Kin: Seven Portraits with song texts by several North Carolina writers, including Beam (restaged with North Carolina Opera premier in 2018). Tony Solitro's song Love's Astronomy was completed in August 2018 and by the time of this printing will have had its first performance. Forthcoming is Beam's first of several projected children's books The Droods with British artist Phil Cooper. Other projects include Bee, I'm Expecting You (bee poem anthology), and Blue Darter - Jonathan Williams: A Bibliography of the Publications and Ephemera, 1950-2008. He continues to work on the poetry collection Life of the Bee; Bee, I'm Expecting You-an anthology of bee poems, facts, and folklore through the ages; and They Say: A Commonplace Book on Poetry and the Spirit. Beam's poems and criticism have appeared in many anthologies and magazines. Poetry editor emeritus of the print and online literary journal Oyster Boy Review, Beam retired in late 2011 from many decades as a UNC-Chapel Hill botanical librarian. Born in Kannapolis, North Carolina he lives in Hillsborough with his husband of 39 years, Stanley Finch. You can learn more about, read and hear more of his poetry at his website: www.jefferybeam.com