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Michael Palmer was born in New York City and educated at Harvard in the early 1960s, where he encountered Confessional poetry. His opposition to Confessionalism found root in a developing poetics when he attended the landmark 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference, a three-week gathering where he met Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, and Clark Coolidge. Correspondence with those three poets greatly influenced Palmer’s early development as a poet. Often associated with Language poetry, Palmer’s exploratory work confronts notions of representation and habits of language, and also seeks to examine the space through which poetry acts. Though critics have noted the influence of Louis Zukofsky, Paul Celan, Samuel Beckett, Surrealism, and philosophical and linguistic theory in his poetry, Palmer’s work continues to evade categorization. For example, on awarding the 2006 Wallace Stevens Award to Palmer, panel judge Robert Hass wrote, “Michael Palmer is the foremost experimental poet of his generation and perhaps of the last several generations…His poetry is at once a dark and comic interrogation of the possibilities of representation in language, but its continuing surprise is its resourcefulness and its sheer beauty.”

Palmer has written more than half a dozen books of poetry, beginning with Blake’s Newton (1974). Critic Brighde Mullins notes, “His poetic is situated yet active, and it affords a range of pleasure due to his wonderful ear, his intellection, his breadth. In this century of..
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