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"Angle of Divergence" by Alison Palmer, Read by the Poet

Alison Palmer's "Angle of Divergence" is simultaneously apocalyptic and beautiful. In the poem, which can be found in Bear Review Issue 2.2, no one is safe (not even we readers) and "Nothing / spares us," but the imagery is so striking that we don't even mind our own undoing.

By beginning the poem with "We," readers are invited to submerge into a landscape within which "Books / and the dark and our hands... beg to gods once here" and where a "Fire in / the library lit to the ceiling" has "words begging at sealed windows." We are not only the readers of this poem, but, in a larger sense, we become the readers inside these lines.

Toward its end, the poem transforms into a fire that razes the construct Palmer so skillfully built in its beginning. As the poem's speaker dictates, we must recognize "the red house won't last," and that "we / won't last." The poem ends with the image of succumbing to "the moon's white blade," through which we are reminded that "nothing spares us."

Over the course of the poem's compact sixteen lines, Palmer builds us a world and brings it crashing down. The experience of reading her poem on the page is only enhanced by her own audio reading of it, as it serves to pull us deeper into an experience that reminds us of our own fragility and fallibility.

--Barbara Varanka


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