Nonfiction by Michael Palmer
A lifetime engagement with poetry radiates from every page of this distinguished collection of essays and talks that span forty years of a poet’s life. Active Boundaries by Michael Palmer offers readers an intimate glimpse into the poetry behind the poetry that, as Robert Creeley once noted, “makes possible a place where words initially engage their meanings—as if missing the edge of all ’creations,’ of all ’worlds.’” With philosophical grace and conversational ease, Palmer unearths a vanguardist tradition in poetry that permeates languages and cultures, centuries and histories. He investigates an “active boundary” as it relates to a sense of form as well as, Palmer writes, “to a more social sense of poetic activity as it exists in the margins, along the borders and, so to speak, ’underground.’” Meditations on poets such as George Oppen, Paul Celan, Octavio Paz, Shelley, and Dante rise to the forefront among a multitude of other voices, like those of Trinh Minh-ha, Anna Akhmatova, Toru Takemitsu, and Susan Howe. Diaristic entries about his mother on her death bed are interspersed with epiphanic fragments; “Within a Timeless Moment of Barbaric Thought” confronts poetry’s relation to memory, war, the War on Terror, contingency, and experience. Pulsing through the heart-lines of Active Boundaries is poetry’s renewal.