×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Laughter of the Sphinx
     

The Laughter of the Sphinx

by Michael Palmer
 

See All Formats & Editions

A powerful, indelible new collection by Michael Palmer—“one of America’s most important poets” (The Harvard Review)Michael Palmer’s new book—a collection in two parts, “The Laughter of the Sphinx” and “Still (a cantata—or nada—for Sister Satan)”—contains 52 poems.The title poem begins

Overview

A powerful, indelible new collection by Michael Palmer—“one of America’s most important poets” (The Harvard Review)Michael Palmer’s new book—a collection in two parts, “The Laughter of the Sphinx” and “Still (a cantata—or nada—for Sister Satan)”—contains 52 poems.The title poem begins “The laughter of the Sphinx / caused my eyes to bleed” and haunts us with the ruin we are making of our world, even as Palmer revels in its incredible beauty. Such central tensions in The Laughter of the Sphinx—between beauty and loss, love and death, motion and rest, knowledge and ignorance—glow in Palmer’s lyrical play of light and entirely hypnotize the reader. The stakes, as always with Palmer, are very high, essentially life and death: “Please favor us with a reply / regarding our one-time offer / which will soon expire.”

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Benjamin Hollander
The poems in this coruscating two-part collection wander there like tragicomic masks, raging at the idiocies of the world or probing how meaning is made when answers escape us. In Palmer's work a "song could mean anything" or "the song might mean nothing," so readers have permission to make what they will out of his words. And the music in these verses never exhausts itself, as a single breath contains generous space for paradox…Like a troubadour witness…Palmer recomposes the measures of poetic song for our time…
Publishers Weekly
06/20/2016
In his latest work, stalwart avant-gardist Palmer (Thread) makes use of repetition in sonic textures, word choice, and themes to let the varied elements of his poems echo and reverberate, creating a sense of meaning and movement amid what is seen and felt. “Mineral light and whale light,/ light of memory, light of the eye,” he writes in a sequence prepared for a dance collaboration. The collection’s two-part structure complicates such binaries as creation and destruction, life and death, and momentum and inertia. Palmer toes middle ground in order to demonstrate the fragility of modern life. “Let us/ write without meaning/ to” he exclaims, cleverly breaking his lines. His poems advocate for being both present and grounded, yet remaining capable of dreaming into the future. The work also points toward the hope of tuning in to a common frequency: “to dwell/ to dwell upon/ to dwell among” in order to become fully cognizant of one’s surroundings. As he writes in the second section, “Still”: “Things get lost/ things whose words/ can no longer be heard// Still we try to find them/ and place them/ inside the silences.” Palmer chooses to dwell among the limitations of his medium to find the beauty that fleetingness creates. (June)
Jonathon Sturgeon - Flavorwire
“Palmer manages to cut deep into the unknowable appeal of the best poetry, some of which Palmer can claim to have written.”
Benjamin Hollander - New York Times Book Review
“The music in these verses never exhausts itself […] Palmer recomposes the measures of poetic song for our time.”
Jon Thompson - Free Verse
“Depending on the poem, the laughter here is by turns bitter, wistful even playful, but typically inflected by a sense of enigma. Returning again and again to songs and singing, to voices and voicelessness, Palmer continues to push the boundaries of poetry with dream songs that explore the place of poetry in a surreal world 'where headless horseman sing/fevered songs/of self and war.' Palmer writes with uncanny precision about this world, a world that this book finds to be as beautiful as it is violated, and his poetry often achieves an ecstatic pitch, but one in which pain is rarely absent.”
James Gibbons - Hyperallergic
“Palmer’s poems can suggest multiverses, silent but spectrallythere.”
John Ashbery
“Exemplarily radical.”
Village Voice
“The most influential avant-gardist working, and perhaps the greatest poet of his generation. His genius is for making the world strange again.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Magnificent … an astringent blend of surrealism and symbolism.”
The Believer
“Palmer is among America’s most elegant—and abstract—heirs to modernist poetry.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811225540
Publisher:
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
06/28/2016
Pages:
96
Sales rank:
637,050
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet 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).

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews