In Memoriam: Shann Palmer

Shann Palmer

Shann Palmer

Dear Friends and Family of Shann,

I first came to know Shann Palmer via Twitter. Over the years, I’ve heard people say Twitter is a dumb platform and claim it’s silly to “mention what you had for lunch” on the internet. Those of us who used Twitter realized there was more to it than sharing our daily meals.

If you used Twitter right, you could create or find a community.

Several years ago, in a chilly October, I started the Twitter Poet Party. We held it every Sunday. Shann often attended these online events, and she also missed a lot since “Dexter” came on TV at the same time. Those of us attending these online events never seemed to tire of the “who brought the wine?” or “I brought cookies” jokes when we knew it was likely we’d never meet in person.

At some point, Shann invited me down to Richmond, VA to read at the Museum of Fine Arts. Her reading series blew all of my expectations away. I entered a modern stone and glass structure and was to give a reading in the lobby. I was warmly welcomed into the community of artists and poets who attended the reading.

“Need wine?” Shann asked me.

Shann had brought wine with her, and we drank a glass with John Hoppenthaler (my fellow reader that night).

John had met her at a conference. I had met her via Twitter. I began to get the sense that Shann was a person who made friends everywhere and kept them with her funny jokes and warm smile.

Shann— We’ll miss you.

“If I Am Only for Myself, What Am I?”

This blog post originally appeared on The Best American Poetry blog. Hillel wrote: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am only for myself, what am I? And, if not now, when? The Hillel I reference is Hillel the Elder. He was the leader of the Jewish Supreme Court in the Land of Israel in the early part of the 1st Century CE. Gathering material for … [Read More...]


Poets Drinking Carrot Juice: An Interview with Joshua Weiner

Earlier this week, I mentioned that Jerry Seinfeld’s series called “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” inspired my coffee interview series with poets. Each episode shows Jerry Seinfeld driving a notable car to pick up a comedian. He drives them to a coffee shop, and they drink their coffee and chat. Today's post includes an interview with Josh Weiner, who is one of … [Read More...]

Poets in Coffee Shops Drinking Hot Tea

Today, on the Best American Poetry blog, I interview the poet Kim Roberts. Months ago, I stumbled upon “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” In each episode, Jerry Seinfeld drives a notable car to pick up a comedian. He drives them to a coffee shop, and they drink their coffee and talk. In the episode with David Letterman, Jerry Seinfeld drives a 1995 Volvo station … [Read More...]


Best American Poetry Blog

This week, I am blogging over at the Best American Poetry blog to talk about The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, which I edited with Matthew Silverman. I wrote that I am "blogging this week," but I wrote the first post while at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (ACA) in New Smyrna Beach, FL. Thank you, ACA! You helped. I won't be selling … [Read More...]

Notes on Beauty Pill’s Prison Song

Normally, I listen to the same song 10-40 times in a row or in a day. I like to deconstruct the song, think about the artist’s choice in words and chords, and how the song is structured overall. Sadly, this may drive the people around me a little crazy. A few weeks ago, I could not stop listening to Beauty Pill’s Prison Song (link to video): Will you still visit me … [Read More...]