Synopses & Reviews
Michael Palmer's new collection is structured in two parts, "What I Did Not Say" and "Thread," subtitled "Stanzas in Counterlight." It begins with a beautiful suite of poems featuring The Master of Shadows (first glimpsed in his 2006 collection ). The counterlight of the title section shines in shafts of Palmer's ever-surprising ironic wit, which is given to sidelong parallel leaps. Several poems in directly address our endless wars, yet even in sorrow and rage the poems still glow with wonder. In multiphonic passages, voices speak from a decentered place, yet are grounded in the central rootedness of the whole history of poetry and culture that has gone before. In his new poems, signature palimpsests create complex cycles of thought, "returning and returning" via echoes to what he has called "the layering process, the process of accretion and the process of emergence."
"Palmer's 21st collection of poems, at first glance, looks like many of his previous books, but he's got some new tricks up his sleeve. Like many poets in later stages of their careers, Palmer is meditating on mortality in these lyrics and sequences, but he's doing it in a style that has evolved increasingly toward an unlikely intersection of mythic imagination and experimental techniques. The book opens with a group of poems addressed to the 'Master of Shadows,' who often speaks in lines that sound like dark nursery rhymes: 'My head is a cracked and pitted bell/ or only the crack within the bell// and I've lost my reflection/ down the town well.' Other sequences Palmer uses groups of poems with the same title to establish and then vary themes over several fugue-like pages are reminiscent of fables and, at times, the poems of Wallace Stevens: 'There is no more/ a Joao Cabral//that one who wrote/ of lucid spindles.' Most surprising are intermittent prose poems that flirt with, then subvert, the most quotidian autobiography: 'I have been to countless poetry readings over the years, some I'm certain very good, many of course not. Yet I have no memory of any of them.' Finally, the long, closing title sequence strings new lines from lines that seem to come from other sources: 'So, Alyosha, maybe it is true./ that we live in perhaps./ Perhaps the earth... perhaps the sky....' Throughout, we see a master surprising himself and his readers with a poetry that feels as old as it does new. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Say / that whatever comes / goes. / / The Shadow knows / nothing / such / His calling. / Round his / listing / House / the bindweed / grows"
Threadpresents eighty-six new poems by 'theforemost experimental poet of his generation, andperhaps of the last several generations' (The PoetrySociety of America"s 2006 Wallace Stevens Awardcitation).
presents eighty-six new poems by "the foremost experimental poet of his generation, and perhaps of the last several generations" (The Poetry Society of America's 2006 Wallace Stevens Award citation).
About the Author
Born in 1943, Michael Palmer has written twenty books of poetry and recently published his selected essays, Active Boundaries (New Directions). He has been acclaimed "one of America's most important poets: startlingly lyrical and visceral" (The Harvard Review).