In her second poetry chapbook, Alison Palmer begs the question, "What is normal?"
The title of Alison Palmer’s second poetry chapbook suggests the comfort of, or perhaps a yearning for, the known; but really it begs the question: What is our normal? The answers she provides often are far from comfortable, but she deals in necessary truths. She opens with a “Spark”: “The one-man-band kisses the silver lady. They become a flash / of sound.” And like thunder that flash and sound reverberate through these pages. “We’re designed to break after only years,” she reminds us, which brings an urgency to those years. “Honesty makes me nervous,” she admits ̵— and no wonder, when her honesty contains both love and its loss, and entails great personal exposure. “It’s not enough to be awake / when the world winds away,” not enough merely to observe passively. Our normal world must be embraced, in all its pain and peril — and potential. “We try to be resewn of nothing left, lovely in our suits of armor. Only / the last will be exquisite, will be re-thought / into alkaline or ash.” She counsels (and comforts), “The way to master death is to make it be everywhere” — for that is truly our normal. In her appropriately titled closing poem, “The End,” she asks us to “Pretend I talk in tiny truths” — but while this collection may be tiny, her truths are large — and yes, necessary.
“Inside this unusual book is a beautiful series of fireflies—rapturous, urgent, always-surprising, longing as they flash their signal-lights for connection, against numbness, against a world which bans love…. ‘Blazes, in gifts of heat lightning; electrical thoughts.’ Alison Palmer’s restless, original poetry (‘I’m a means to those small creatures that curl within. / They kindle, bloom darkly below my surface.’) reveals a deep mind inside private loss…. Hers is an oft-tender, sometimes-vexed song. I love Palmer’s vivid rhythms — ‘the one-man-band licks /wires of her hair’ — as well as her ongoing sense of wonder: ‘What the river’s for I’ve no answer. / If you swallow enough water, you’ll regain your gills.’ I find solace and sustenance in Palmer’s imagination: ‘Oh, to find buttony eyes and the fastening language of wings.’ Thank goodness for this poet’s nuanced understanding of love – its fragility and resilience. Thank goodness for Palmer’s fertile music, that bright essential hope. ‘We know that beneath the meadow is another meadow’”. —Alessandra Lynch, author of Pretty Tripwire
“In Alison Palmer’s Everything Is Normal Here, the speaker’s mission is clear: ‘I crusade // for my heart,’ she tells us—for her heart, for tenderness, for touch, for bridging the chasms between bodies. In elegant line after elegant line, we are asked to fall in love with the bruised world from inside our bruised bodies, to revel in its wonders: moles that ‘tent their tiny paws,’ chocolate coffins, ‘riverbanks flush with irises.’ Palmer may be ‘singing makeshift songs’ out of wounded necessity, but these songs are here to stay.” —Kerri Webster, author of Lapis
Alison Palmer is the author of two poetry chapbooks, EVERYTHING IS NORMAL HERE (Broadstone Books, 2022) and The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). Her work has appeared in FIELD, The Cincinnati Review, The Journal, Columbia Review, and Crazyhorse among others. Alison is the recipient of a 2022 Independent Artist Award (IAA) grant from the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).