Poetry 365

November 17, 2011

Poet Michael Palmer

This month for Poetry 365 we’re highlighting the latest collection from experimental poetry pioneer Michael Palmer.  Author of 21 volumes and winner of the 2006 Wallace Stevens Award, Palmer is often associated with Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and the Language Poetry movement.  In Thread, he presents 86 new poems structured in two parts and frequently linked in stunning suites that reintroduce the Master of Shadows from 2005’s acclaimed Company of Moths.  Lyrical, visceral, and surreal, Thread offers wry meditations on mortality and war that feature “fresh images and experimental language that will haunt readers’ minds long after they’ve stopped reading.”  So check out this excellent intro to the avant-garde, sample a poem below, and make sure to stop back next month for Poetry 365.

The Classical Study

I asked the Master of Shadows
wherefore and wherefrom
but he said that art was short
and life was long.
Said: let us praise
those flames that consume the day
stone by stone
and the lilac by the barn
and the hours when you were young
and the mother- and the father-tongue.
Curled by fire the leaves of grass,
buckled, the roof beam,
shattered, the wagon’s haft,
ash-flecks in the wind’s swell.
Have you forgotten the whistling of the stones,
the heave and shift of the windrows?
So I asked the Master of Shadows
about the above and the below,
the this and the that,
the first and the last,
but he said,
I am no master
only a shadow,
and he laughed.

Russell J. (Readers’ Services)

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