Heather Palmer


Starfish Over Oyster by Heather Palmer

palmerStarfish Over Oyster
by Heather Palmer
Love Symbol Press, May 2013
60 pages / $12 ($1 PDF)  Buy from Love Symbol Press








If you didn’t know how a starfish eats an oyster it does it like this,

“…the starfish’s mouth, which is located under its body, present a problem, it is smaller than an oyster. And the oyster presents another problem; it is protected by a hard shell. So when a starfish finds an oyster, it climbs on top of it and locks its many arms around the oyster’s shell, then tugs on the shell until the oyster is too tired to hold it closed anymore. When the shell opens, the starfish turns its stomach inside out, drops it over the oyster’s body, then draws it in again when the oyster is nearly digested.”

(from big site of amazing facts)

There’s no description of the act itself in Heather Palmer’s Starfish Over Oyster (except the reference in the title) but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a great metaphor for a book about hunger control, voice and violence. Starfish Over Oyster takes place in the mouth and the stomach. Heather Palmer writes like a shotgun blast and a jawbreaker. There’s a burst of ideas tucked into an intimate shell you have to suck on. Each line is compact and dangerous; some slip by while others kept me rereading them or turning back to them pages later.

Visually the book is beautiful. The layout looks perfect. Everything seems so precise, largely due to the pages’ ample negative space. The poems themselves, flush left and right, look like constrained little packages, small but dangerous. That being said, Starfish Over Oyster takes time to process; there’s no fat in the language and the subject matter is dark. It’s about a girl consumed by a city, her father, and hunger itself.

hunger so great it grids
 urbanity for her ready-meal
nothing will city a justified
stomach refuse curses the fruit


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May 20th, 2013 / 11:00 am