on Marly Youmans’ Thaliad


I have recently finished a second reading of Thaliad, called a post-apocalyptic epic in blank verse. Marly’s writing swept me into another world with her beautiful language and her storytelling magic. Here’s one of my favourite passages:

The glare threw flames of dazzle, dazzle cast
Uncanny aura, aura beckoned dream,
and dream was drowned by day and brought tide
Of gold in spilling flood, to flood the mind
Until no mind was minding anything
But lapping radiance, and radiance
Ruled Glimmerglass and flashing form, the form
Of something weird, making and unmaking,
Unmaking Thalia till Thalia
Was empty husk, and husk was packed with sun,
And sun was sealed in trembling dark, and dark
Arose in dreams, and dreams made lucent night.

(from Chapter XVI, page 62-3)

To me, these words seem like 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.

I first learned about Marly’s book as a follower of her blog The Palace at 2:00 a.m.. And about Clive Hicks-Jenkins‘ unique and beautiful illustrations for it. Edited and published by my friend Beth Adams for her own Phoenicia Publishing in Montreal, it is truly a collaboration between three artists.

I’m no good at book reviews but could not let this go by without a mention and a recommendation, dear readers. For a fine review, please read this.

Last year, I wrote a bit about Marly Youman’s novel A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage, which I also enjoyed and read twice. There’s something about her writing that I enjoy reading most during the night hours (2 a.m.?) perhaps when the magic feels strongest.

Added January 26th, 2013: Clive Hicks-Jenkins has posted about “a glittering review of Thaliad” at the book blog Tomcat in the Red Room. It really is fabulous. As I commented, it made me feel relieved that my dismal knowledge of the classics and other related literature did not matter for my enjoyment of the book.

Later: forgot to add that Beth has picked up this post of mine to include in Phoenicia’s blog here. I am honoured to be in such good company over there!

January 20, 2013 in Books, Other artists by Marja-Leena