This remarkable debut collection should put poet John Palmer among the most intelligent and deeply moving poets of the time. He writes of nature and of place in a powerful voice rarely experienced. Don’t open this book looking for easy, facile poems. But do open it, and read and reread it, if you are ready for a powerful and haunting experience.
John Palmer has degrees from Duke University, The University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison as well as an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He has had work published in The Antioch Review, Cimarron Review, Denver Quarterly, High Plains Literary Review, Indiana Review, Seneca Review, Willow Springs, and elsewhere. He lives and works in western Massachusetts.
I bought this collection of poems about a year ago intending to read them as soon as I had finished the other dozen books on my bedside table… Well, the twelve were finished, so I dove into Return to a Place like Seeing and expected to finish the book within a day or two. Wrong. I ended up reading and rereading a poem or two each day, then putting the book aside for another day. More than four months have passed since I picked it up and I just finished reading it today. This is not a book to be read in a night nor, evidently, even in a month. These poems need to be read slowly, savored, and enjoyed like the finest glass of wine. Some of the poems have left me puzzled, some have left me unsettled, some have left me wistful and wanting to jump into the imagery… and some have left me sad. None have left me not unmoved. Picking “the” favorite poem is impossible, but I found three of them the ones to which I kept returning: Anxiety Dreams, The Same Place for Two, and Return to a Place like Seeing (because I understand the Siena connection). John Palmer has produced a book of dreams, of images that float, of melancholy, of both joy and despair. Buy it and be transported…