Little Elegies for Sister Satan (Paperback)
Shaped by the poet’s long view of history, these beautiful lamenting poems take sudden bracing plunges into close-up views of our apocalypse
Little Elegies for Sister Satan presents indelibly beautiful new poems by Michael Palmer, “the foremost experimental poet of his generation, and perhaps of the last several generations” (citation for The Academy of American Poets’ Wallace Stevens Award). Grappling with our dark times and our inability to stop destroying the planet or to end our endless wars, Palmer offers a counterlight of wit (poetry was dead again / they said again), as well as the glow of wonder. In polyphonic passages, voices speak from a decentered place, yet are rooted in the whole history of culture that has gone before: “When I think of ‘possible worlds,’ I think not of philosophy, but of elegy. And impossible worlds. Resistant worlds.”
In the light of day
perhaps all of this
will make sense.
But have we come this far,
come this close to death,
just to make sense?
About the Author
Michael Palmer was born into an Italian-American family in Manhattan in 1943 and has lived in San Francisco since 1969. He has taught at numerous universities in the United States, Europe and Asia, and has published translations from a variety of languages, in particular French, Brazilian Portuguese and Russian. He has been involved in joint projects with many visual artists and composers in the United States and elsewhere and has also served as an artistic collaborator with the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company for close to fifty years. Palmer's honors include two grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Shelley Memorial Prize from the Poetry Society of America, and he was awarded the 2006 Wallace Stevens Award. In 1999, he was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Magnificent: an astringent blend of surrealism and symbolism.
— New York Times Book Review
The most influential avant-gardist working, and perhaps the greatest poet of his generation. His genius is for making the world strange again. He sets a radical drama between the philosophical and the personal, between sense and the sensual—a tension unfolding endlessly outward from history, from the arcade of ghosts, to powerfully unsettle the living.
— Joshua Clover - Village Voice
Palmer’s fresh images and experimental language will haunt readers’ minds long after they’ve stopped reading.
— American Poet
Palmer is among America's most elegant—and abstract—heirs to modernist poetry.
— The Believer
A new book of poetry by Michael Palmer is always an important event. One of our greatest living poets — he has spent a lifetime producing a challenging, radically defamiliarizing body of work of uncanny beauty and grandeur. Little Elegies for Sister Satan is a remarkable achievement.
— Norman Finkelstein - Restless Messengers
These are poems about confronting the end, the end of one’s own time and time in general, about repetition and the paradox of poetry, its ability to say the unsayable, to exist and yet remain unsaid, the utility of futility.
— Elisa Gabbert - The New York Times
These are profoundly beautiful and moving poems full of despair, sorrow, and humor about what can and cannot be said as we fall further into the brink.
— John Yau - Hyperallergic