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The Laughter of the Sphinx

by Michael Palmer

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Magnificent … an astringent blend of surrealism and symbolism.

The New York Times Book Review

A powerful, indelible new collection by Michael Palmer—“one of America’s most important poets” (The Harvard Review)


The Laughter of the Sphinx

by Michael Palmer

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.”

published June 28th, 2016