Michael Palmer

May 9, 2007


Born to a middle-class Italian American family in New York City
Spent most of his life in the San Francisco area
Writes poems that are fragmentary, self-reflective, and nonsequential
Questions the fiction of a unitary self that confesses its inner experience in a poem
Believes a poem is a verbal artifact that spotlights its own words: continually reminds us of the materiality of language


Write this. We have burned all their villages
Write this. We have burned all the villages and the people in them
Write this. We have adopted their customs and their manner of dress
Write this. A word may be shaped like a bed, a basket of tears or an X

Let go of me for I have died and am in a novel and was a lyric poet, certainly, who attracted crowds to mountaintops. For a nickel I will appear from this box. For a dollar I will have text with you and answer three questions.
First question. We entered the forest, followed its winding paths, and emerged blind
Second question. My townhouse, of the Jugendstil, lies by Darmstadt
Third question. He knows he will wake from this dream, conducted in the mother-tongue
Third question. He knows his breathing organs are manipulated by God, so that he is compelled to scream
Third question. I will converse with no one on those days of the week with end in y

silence, pinhole of light

A word is beside itself. Here the poem is called What Speaking Means to say/ though I have no memory of my name
Here the poem is called Theory of the Real, its name is Let’s Call This, and its name is called A Wooden Stick. It goes yes-yes, no-no. It goes one and one
I have been writing a book, not in my native language, about violins and smoke, lines and dots, free to speak and become the things we speak, pages which sit up, look around and row resolutely toward the setting sun
Pages torn from their spines and added to the pyre, so that they will resemble thought.

What last. Lapwing. Tesseract. X perhaps for X. The villages are known as These Letters- humid, sunless. The writing occurs on their walls.


Resists the linear flow of narrative
Recalls phrases and musical cadences from Eliot’s Waste Land


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