After reading Thaliad twice, Finnish-Canadian artist Marja-Leena Rathje has posted about it on her well-read blog.
Saying that Marly Youmans' magical writing "swept her into another world," she quoted some favorite lines that reminded her of waves repeatedly washing ashore. "That repetition and rhythm made me think of The Kalevala, a 19th-century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology."
Marja-Leena is a printmaker and lifelong professional artist; in addition to her remarks on the text, she commented on Clive Hicks-Jenkins' illustrations and the book design by Elizabeth Adams, saying that Thaliad was actually "a collaboration between three artists."
"There's something about [Marly's] writing that I enjoy reading most during the night hours (2 a.m.?) perhaps when the magic feels strongest."
"...a beautiful and powerful book -- worth owning, worth reading and rereading. I am so glad that it exists in the world and that I can turn to it, time and again, glorying in the language and the hope."
Rachel Barenblat has just posted a review of Thaliad at her blog, The Velveteen Rabbi. In it she describes her experience, as the parent of a young child, of reading Marly Youmans' powerful poem of seven children who've survived an apocalypse. She writes:
This is not a poem which shies away from awful realities. There is violence here, and rot, and fear, and cruelty. Fortunately there is also hope, just enough hope to keep me reading, to keep me trusting that somehow, against all odds, this small band of children will survive to begin the world again.
The book is told in the voice of a narrator who was chosen, and becomes a sort of priest, rabbi, wise woman, and keeper of the history:
Emma is anointed, chosen to become the community's bard, "to speak of us in words / translucent to the people," to become "High Storyteller of the fallen world." I love these lines, with their glimpse of how the children in the stolen van must have survived, must have rebuilt. And I love the notion that "catching souls in nets of liturgy" and telling stories clearly are among the masteries which are meaningful and needed by the human tribe, as of course I believe that they are.
Rachel, herself a storyteller and teacher, continued to read, and finally concludes:
The epic poem form is not an easy one, and in lesser hands this audacious project would have failed...but Marly makes it work. The subject matter, postapocalyptic survival, is grand enough to merit the form she's chosen -- and the children's journey is told with deep sentiment but no cloying sentimentality. This is a beautiful and powerful book -- worth owning, worth reading and rereading. I am so glad that it exists in the world and that I can turn to it, time and again, glorying in the language and the hope.
We are delighted today to announce the eagerly-awaited publication of Thaliad, by Marly Youmans, with illustrations by Clive Hicks-Jenkins. Not only is this a literary work of astonishing beauty and power, it is specially designed and offered both as a paperback, and as a collectible, limited-edition hardcover with printed dust-jacket and foil-stamped, cloth binding.
And if you order early, you can receive our SPECIAL BOOKPLATE OFFER. The first 50 people to order either edition of Thaliad before Dec 25, 2012 will receive an original, hand-pulled, relief-print bookplate, specially designed and printed by Clive Hicks-Jenkins for Thaliad. To receive your bookplate, you must forward your order confirmation from the online store, or from Amazon, with your name and address, to us at phoeniciapublishing(at)gmail(dot) com. The bookplate will be sent to you separately by mail. And, once again, this offer will expire on December 25, 2012, so please place your order early to be assured of receiving a bookplate.
The official launch date for Marly Youmans' Thaliad, in both hardcover and paperback, is December 1, but until then we're offering a very special price of $23.00 on pre-orders of the limited edition hardcover. This book, illustrated by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, is so gorgeous that screen shots can't do it justice, and the story itself is compelling, moving, suspenseful, and masterfully told -- and it reads like a novel.
Thaliad would be a wonderful Christmas present for any art or poetry lover on your list!
From ghosts and visitations, malevolent folk spirits, spells, incantations and curses to surrealistic takes on the present and the future -- poets love the weird, the absurd, and the supernatural. Now through November 1, receive a generous 20% off on these four poetry books, when ordered through our online store. Use coupon code MGQ8JWW when ordering. (E-store only; offer not available for Amazon orders.)
Angels & Beasts, by Claudia Serea
Watermark, by Clayton Michaels:
"Right now I feel so goddamn rock-and-roll --
like a grinning
Keith Richards death's-head"...
Journaling the Apocalypse, (qarrtsiluni vol 1.1) edited by Dave Bonta and Beth Adams
Words of Power (qarrtsiluni vol 1.4) edited by Dave Bonta and Beth Adams
Thanks, and Happy Halloween!
We're delighted to announce the publication of Angels & Beasts, a full-length poetry collection of 74 prose poems by Claudia Serea. The author is a Romanian-American poet who immigrated to the U.S. in 1995, and while her work always carries within it the memory of what she and the Romanian people have experienced, her blend of surrealism, black humor, and imagery is all her own.
Howie Good, writing about Serea's work, says "These prose poems are as sharp as the shrapnel from a nail bomb. They leave you shaken and bloodied and awed that anything so small can be so powerful.
And Lisa Marie Basile says, "Serea’s Angels & Beasts manages to perfectly blend quirky surrealism with expert minimalist craft: her sentences are woven with a stunning attention to detail, seemingly stitched with the same blood, fruit and tears that she writes about. When she writes, “The pears were small red tears we weren’t allowed to eat,” the reader cannot help but to feel as if she devoured something forbidden. The body is on high when reading Serea."
Here at Phoenicia we were stunned by this manuscript when we received it, and are proud to publish it today. We hope you will agree that these are remarkable and unforgettable poems.
FULL ORDERING INFORMATION, AUTHOR BIO, AND LINKS TO ONLINE EXCERPTS
A personal reflection by Phoenicia publisher Elizabeth Adams, who is also a writer and an artist
What I have realized in the past few years is that, while socio-political issues matter tremendously to me, and I think that political activism is terribly important, for me, at this point, too much immersion in politics kills my creativity. It's pretty much either/or. The energy that it takes for me to be committed and active in politics makes it almost impossible for me to do art or music or write at the level I want to.
It's impossible to keep one's involvement on the level of the issues alone. The negativity, polarization, and rhetoric surrounding political action in the U.S., especially since 9/11, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, made me feel helpless after a while. It was possible to help break down barriers about homosexuality and religion,and I'm very glad I was involved in that struggle. It was possible to help dismantle some stereotypes about the Middle East, about Islam, about an inevitable "clash of civilizations" -- but only very slowly, and on a local level, almost person-to-person. The struggle against the power of money and corporations and the military, the choice to locate and exhaust the planet's fossil fuels while destroying the entire ecosystem -- I'm not sure fighting these battles is possible anymore through the system itself; maybe only a collapse will cause wholesale change. When it comes to matters of war, peace, and the power of the strong over the weak, we have learned very little over the millenia.
I was involved very intentionally for a long while; it changed me for the better, and I know my efforts did some good. But I knew that eventually I'd have to make some decisions about what I wanted to do with my remaining time -- time that seems to feel ever shorter and more precious.
My mother wanted me to go into politics. It wouldn't have been a bad fit, in some ways, and I was invited once to run for the Vermont legislature -- but I said no. We each have to look at our own gifts and what we're passionate about, as well as where our lives have led us, and what possibilities are open to us at a particular time - and make the most of them. If we don't do that, we may have to live with big regrets. And we also have to ask: where can I make the most difference? For me, the greatest passion has always been for the arts. I've been fortunate to be able to spend most of my professional career as a graphic designer, a field closely related to the fine arts, and now to have some additional time to devote to work other than the kind that pays the bills.
But the decision to focus on art and on writing -- both my own and other people's -- and to try to minimize the many distracting, conflicting, enticing calls for involvement in other pursuits and other projects -- comes at a time when it's particularly hard to be an artist or a writer, let alone a publisher. There's a lot of discouragement around, and many obstacles which have never been quite so daunting: economic, governmental, social and cultural changes are all contributing, and these combine with and magnify the personal challenges that have always existed for people who live creative lives.
A guest blog post by Marly Youmans, whose epic poem Thaliad will be published here in November. The painting of fairies dancing, above, is by William Blake.
Fairy glamour is the name for the magic that can turn ashes and dead leaves into enticing fruit and sparkling wine--that can metamorphose cruelty or vapidness into a lovely face of beauty. But when you eat that fruit and drink that wine in Faerie, you are still consuming ash and dead leaf. And you can never go back to the world of sun-ripened fruit and wine pressed from grapes. You may live in seeming pleasure and yet become the one that the Queen of the fairies pays as a tithe to hell. When you ride there, if you are very, very lucky--vanishingly lucky--some strong mortal will catch you up and hold on until the Queen loses her power over you, though in the end you may find the hair in your comb as fine as cobwebs and your limbs withered.
Perhaps it is that the internet often shows us more than we need to see, perhaps it is that the Western world has changed greatly in my lifetime, but it seems to me that our culture is more and more sprinkled with fairy dust and subject to the power of glamour. What is this world where a book like 50 Shades of Grey, a fanfiction story written to mimic the Twilight series, can be irresistible to so many--where people run to pay their gold for ashes and dead leaves?
When we pay such gold, we transform our culture, little by little. We say by our actions that this is what we think is worth our love and precious time and coin. Publishers, bookstores, galleries, and other guardians of culture respond to such actions. After all, such actions say that this is where we want our culture to go, in this direction. We ash-eaters may laugh and say we are not serious, or we may mock and say that our mocking is all hilarity. Either way, we are eating the food of Faerie and supporting its dominion.
More than that, we are not paying our coin and eating the golden, sun-fed apples of this world, more beautiful than any glamoured ash. We are not transformed for the better; are not growing the soul and becoming larger on the inside. We are not marrying ourselves to true things but burying ourselves in a fairy mound. And we are not striving to support and build a new golden age of culture but are seeking after a world of tin.
A little world of beauty and truth flickers and struggles to catch light within the larger one. Anyone can blow on that flame, but few do.
* * *
In the interest of being understood, I may need to say that I love fairy tales and fantastic realms, and that I am using Faerie and its witchery of glamour as a metaphor in the post just above.
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