Elephants & butterflies
(2008, BOA Editions)
The poems in Alan Michael Parker's fifth collection, Elephants & Butterflies, are both wild and calm, boisterous and quiet. These lyrics employ his trademark surprise, song, and startling metaphor while allowing the ideas to simmer just below the surface. Parker's poems accomplish the difficult task of being accessible while still pursuing complex philosophical and personal knowledge.
“All through Elephants & Butterflies, Alan Michael Parker chases metaphysical questions with a combination of whimsy, hominess, and subtle urgency. If the soul is broken, if God has checked out, if people suffer needlessly, Parker responds in poems half tuned to the imagination, half to the raw prosiness of life—or, as he suggests, half to the comics, half to the news. He writes a language of gleeful inventiveness, utterly unpretentious, and distinctly American in tune and tone.”
- Rosanna Warren
Parker's poems, "My Son, Under the Waterfall" and "Peaches or Plums," were featured on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.
Parker's poem, “Wednesday Sonnet,” appeared in the 2008 Poetry Calendar. Shafiq Naz, ed. (Bertem, Belgium: Alhambra Publishing).
Parker's poem, “Oh, What a Red Sweater,” was anthologized in 180 More: Extraordinary Poems for Every Day. Billy Collins, ed. (Harper-Collins, 2005).
Parker's poem, “The Eclipse,” was included in Never Before: Poems about First Experiences. Laure-Anne Bosselaar, ed. (Four Way Books, 2005).
Parker's poem, "What Was He Saying, And to Whom," was selected for inclusion in the Academy of American Poets on-line collection of American poetry.
Here is a new interview with Alan Michael Parker about Elephants & Butterflies, from the Davidson College website.
Order from Amazon
A peal of sonnets
(2006, Gendun Editions)
A Peal of Sonnets was designed and printed by Zachary Carlsen on dampened Somerset paper, set from Perpetua types, in an edition of 125 copies. Binding by Jill Krase at Ovenbird Bindery.
In the ringing of the changes, “a peal” consists of seven church bells rung in every order possible, that is, 5040 rings. In this volume, according to designer Zachary Carlsen, “each loose poem in the volume represents a bell: A Peal of Sonnets can be read in as many different ways as the arrangements of the bells can be rung.”
Order A Peal of Sonnets from Gendun Editions.
Love Song with Motor Vehicles
(2003, BOA Editions)
In Love Song with Motor Vehicles, Alan Michael Parker marshals a penetrating wit and sharp irony that mirrors that of Charles Simic and John Berryman. Parker's robust imagination explores the music in places poetry doesn't usually travel — "Driving Past My Exit," "The Screened Porch," "Salmon Seen from Above," "On the Red-Eye." His poems find their epiphanies early on, and, most strikingly, do not close at their endings but, rather, open. The book includes a series titled "The Penates." These poems take as their subjects the household gods Aeneas brought with him from Troy to the founding of Rome. But the poems have a twist: the various gods — of steel wool, draperies, brooms — have been updated, dragged into our culture and time. The result is a post-modern riff upon present-day spirituality in relation to mythology.
Parker's poem, "The Cat," published in Love Song with Motor Vehicles, won the 2003 Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America.
Parker's poem, "Love Song with Motor Vehicles," received an Editor's Choice Award from The Marlboro Review.
Love Song with Motor Vehicles was named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the National Book Critics Circle for 2003.
Parker's poems,"The Island" and "The Work," published in Love Song with Motor Vehicles, were featured on Poetry Daily.
Love Song with Motor Vehicles is full of, among other things, gods. But what surprising gods they are, with their strange questions, sad visions, and circumscribed domains that never stay circumscribed. Like all of Parker's brilliant books, this one is serious fun, made of grace and intelligent good spirit.
-- Andrew Hudgins
Order from: Amazon
(1999, BOA Editions)
"Vandals, Horses," published in The Vandals, was awarded a Pushcart Prize.
Thirty years ago when Dylan told us "the pump don't work 'cause the vandals took the handle," who could know they'd be reconstellated here, with all their sweet weirdness and fierce wisdom, in Alan Michael Parker's remarkable and brilliant new collection of poems. When these vandals amd this poet sing, I make myself stop to listen.
-- David St. John
In this book of trespass and insubordination, Alan Michael Parker pillages all the tints and tones of diction on his way to an outrageous, courageous new poetics. With wicked wit and unfailing intelligence, Parker dismantles the ineluctable wish for closure and stasis. Rather than minding their manners, his poems unhinge aesthetic decorum. They exist in the synapse and spark between word and object, mind and world, where meaning takes shape. Turbulent and musical, profound and absurd, they gesture toward the universal with waves of farewell.
-- Alice Fulton
Order from: Amazon
Days Like Prose
(1997, Alef Books)
Days Like Prose was named a "Notable Book of the Year" by the National Book Critics Circle for 1997.
This is an arresting first book; it gives us a poetry deep in particular moments and eloquently alert to the world's curious and agitated detail. Alan Michael Parker's poems are full, as poems should be, of surprises which turn out to be simply true.
-- Richard Wilbur
Order from: Amazon