Cooperstown’s Marly Youmans has built a literary career out of doing things her way, and that continues with her new book of poetry, “The Book of the Red King,” which was published by Phoenicia Publishing in July.
“It has gotten good reviews online,” Youmans told The Daily Star last week.
“There has only been one newspaper review so far, in Chino, California,” she said, making a confused face mixed with a shrug. “They called it stunning, which is a good word.”
With art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins, “The Book of the Red King,” tells the story of three characters in a book-long series of poems.
Youmans said the book was an outgrowth of her previous poetry work, “Thaliad,” which Phoenicia published in 2012.
“That was a long-form poem ... an epic poem, set in a post-apocalyptic world,” she said. “This has a story arc that runs through it. It is not a random collection of poems. It has a story arc for three characters, one is the Fool, one is the Red King, one is Precious Wentletrap, which is also the name of a shell.
“It is a pretty shell,” she continued, “but it also is the name of a character.”
Youmans said the success of “Thaliad” was surprising and has helped with anticipation for her new work. However, she was originally publishing “Thaliad” online herself, and she said she was surprised when Phoenicia asked her if they could publish a book version.
“Somebody commented in one of my reviews about ‘Thaliad,’ ‘anybody who would write a post-apocalyptic poem in blank verse is not in it for the money,’” she said. “I don’t think people thought there would be sales for a long-form poem, but there were sales for a long-form poem.
“Like I said, I am just doing what I want to do, and actually, that book, ‘Thaliad,’ has done remarkably well for a book of poetry,” she said.
A South Carolina native, Youmans has lived in Cooperstown for 21 years, which is “the longest I have ever lived anywhere,” she said. She has had 14 books published, including seven novels and several collections of short stories and poetry. Her next novel, “Charis in the World of Wonders,” will be published next spring by Ignatius Press. Youmans said she has not started writing a new project yet, but will likely start working on a new novel next year.
Youmans will appear at The Green Toad Bookstore in Oneonta from 2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 5, for a reading and book signing. She will also appear at a Village Library of Cooperstown event soon, and details will be released shortly, she said.
“I just do what I want to do,” Youmans said. “Things just come and they’re one thing sometimes, and sometimes they are another thing. And who can explain that?”
Greg Klein, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7218.