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Everything Is Normal Here by Alison Palmer

Source: the poet
Paperback, 33 pgs.
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Everything Is Normal Here by Alison Palmer explores the normality of life with its slivers of joys, its heavy grief, and the struggle of maintaining an open heart when the world can be scary and cruel. In her first poem, “Spark,” Palmer’s narrator calls “Here” as she looks for the joy she sees between the “one-man band” and the “silver lady.” She’s here and she’s wishing and waiting for her spark, a touch that will bring the softening and the explosive joy of unfettered love.

“Blazes, in gifts of heat lightning; electrical thoughts — she can break/the sound barrier, but your love has never come as easily//” (from “Point of Touch” pg. 4) and “We’re designed to break after only years.” (from “Portrait” pg. 5) reflect not only the normal pressures of making connections with lovers and others, but also the devastation that can come quickly and unexpectedly. Portrait, in particular, is striking in that there is a cataloguing of what one person may be or is to another, while the other person feels as though they are drowning and at the same time the narrator is trying to assure them that change is normal. This multi-layered poem is like a self-examination of the rush of emotions we feel in new and old relationships — a jumble of anxiety and calm, a convincing of the relationships joy, and a reassuring that change can be beneficial and that we won’t lose ourselves completely.

From "The Rescue" (pg. 8)
...
Often, it feels good to look back and miss seeing yourself.
A pigeon on the sill pecks at glass to test its own reality.
Oh, to find buttony eyes and the fastening language of wings.

Loving oneself is the hardest gift we can earn. It’s a struggle with the external pressures of society, our partners, our families, and it is the internal struggle with our own demons and who we think we should be. Don’t we all need a little rescuing?

“We wouldn’t hear the wind if not for the trees; on each limb a collection of/crackles like embers. Me mind, not entirely safe inside its bone house.//” (“Overtaken”, pg. 29) are among some of my favorite lines. The beauty of Everything Is Normal Here by Alison Palmer is in the cracks between the lines.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Alison Palmer is the author of the forthcoming full-length poetry collection, Bargaining with the Fall (Broadstone Books, March 2023), the recently published poetry chapbook, Everything Is Normal Here (Broadstone Books, 2022), and the poetry chapbook, The Need for Hiding (Dancing Girl Press, 2018). To read an interview with Alison visit: www.thepoetsbillow.org. She was named a semi-finalist for 92Y’s Discovery Poetry Contest 2021 and was chosen for a 2022 Independent Artist Award (IAA) grant by the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC).

Alison received her MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and she was awarded the Emma Howell Memorial Poetry Prize from Oberlin College where she graduated with a BA in Creative Writing. Currently, Alison writes outside Washington, DC.

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