by Alan Michael Parker
“[His] poems prove as precise as they are whimsical. Parker moves gracefully between wit and intimacy as he traverses history, masculinity, domesticity, and the restlessness of the human spirit.… The Ladder illuminates the rapture of daily experience with unceasing intelligence.”
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Winner, 2017 Brockman-Campbell Book Award
Whether about the moon or hotel sex, politics or poppy seeds, Alan Michael Parker’s poems are always tender and eccentric and nuanced. In his eighth collection, with metaphysical fortitude the poet continues to deliberate—in all sorts of poems, some unpunctuated, some in prose, and some the first-person lyrics well loved by his longtime readers—upon what our daily lives mean. And how do we sing and praise and grieve all at once?
“What sly elucidation we find here, and what unexpected philosophy.… Parker turns over the credos by which we live the way a child turns a toy over in her hands, assuming nothing, open to sense and serendipity.… I praise Parker’s lightness of hand, a tonal subtlety born of the confident master;… we find lines which don’t feel like music was added to them so much as they feel like all distractions and infelicities were combed away, revealed the natural music the ear thrills to.” —Beth Ann Fennelly
“[Parker’s] poems prove as precise as they are whimsical. Parker moves gracefully between wit and intimacy as he traverses history, masculinity, domesticity, and the restlessness of the human spirit.… The Ladder illuminates the rapture of daily experience with unceasing intelligence.” —Tina Chang
Oh, to be the happy dog
The dog’s named Please
as she waits,
Thank You as she goes.
The sky helps, too.
I just want
to bring to you the moon
dripping in my jaws.
“When I Am a Hummingbird” as featured in Poem-a-Day with The Academy of American Poets on February 12, 2019.
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“Some literary voices hit a tone that can be identified by only a few words, like playing “Name That Tune” with just a few lines, and Alan Michael Parker projects one of those voices. From his distinctive gang of Vandals to sundry romances to verbal calculations, the poet manages a smart and frank philosophical voice throughout eight collections of poems. The Ladder, named the best book of 2016 inNorth Carolina with the NC Poetry Society’s notable Brock-Campbell Award, sounds as true to Parker as ever from the first note.” — Leah Miranda Hughes, Pleiades
“Parker’s entire book of poems, The Ladder, speaks to every nuance of trust and mystery that I feel as I grow closer to listening to myself and the intimate conversations of the world around me—the low whispers and deep groans, ambition dismissed and the roundness and wholeness of everything aware of its own shape.” — Kimberly Ann Priest, NewPages
“Parker’s collection brings to light this constant discovery of romance in everyday life. He wants us to stop and pause and look at that Chagall or Matisse, to imagine our lovers in our hotel rooms, and to take the bold move of approaching that attractive stranger.” — Dorothy Chan, Shining Rock
“Alan Michael Parker has hit his most brilliant stride with this new collection, The Ladder, which includes these lines from the title poem: ‘But Master, the ladder. / I hitched up the ladder to every height, / and still the moon rolls away. / Above the clouds / the airplanes are small and cold, / and the ladder sways. / Teach me to climb / down from ambition.’” — Dannye Romine Powell, Charlotte Observer
“Poetry, for Parker, doesn’t work as a means to chase the moon, but rather as a technique to climb down into the world, with all of its flaws and losses, its disappointments and imperfections. Parker’s poems tell small stories – of hotel rooms and breakfasts and daughters and postcards – and it’s in this specificity that he reaches toward the universal. Perhaps the only way to speak of the sky, these poems suggest, is to stand firmly on the earth.” — Vivian Wagner, diode