A Tribute to Shann Palmer by Debra DuPree Williams

I had just found my muse only to have her taken away by The One who put her here in the first place. Reading the words, “We will miss Shann Palmer‘s unique vision, poetic voice and gentle spirit. ” on the Dead Mule website took the wind right out of my sails.

I was looking through my 2014 Poet’s Market book when I ran across Dead Mule, School of Southern Literature. I felt I just may have found a place for my orphaned works. I logged on, full of anticipation and excitement. I clicked on “poetry” and there found a chapbook written by Shann Palmer, Skip Tracing Angels, along with her southern legitimacy statement, and four more poems.

At first, I didn’t pay any attention to Dead Mule’s line about missing her. I was so excited to have found her work, I just went straight to reading. Wow! I thought, this is so like my own family and the experiences I have had. It was as though Miss Palmer were speaking to me, telling me, “You can do this. This is who you are. This is your voice.” Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Had I read something about her being missed? Where did she go?

I went back to the poetry page and that was when it sank in, to my mind, and my heart, that Miss Palmer was no longer with us. I have to tell you, I cried like a baby. This woman I had known for less than an hour, had had a powerful impact on me, and here I was, weeping for her as though she had been a long-time friend. That is how powerful her words were. In just four short poems, she had said more to me about writing and how it should and could be done than all the “how to” books lining my shelves. Her words were personal, as if she had written them just for me.

I lay no claim to being an essayist. Poetry is my chosen genre. I already have a poem running around in my mind, and parts of it written on my heart, in memory of this one special lady who impacted me so deeply on December 23, 2013, the day I first logged on to Dead Mule. One line I’ll share with you here, with thanks to Carly Simon for the idea. Two hot girls on a cold winter’s night, searching for words. Sadly, no more words will be forthcoming from Shann Palmer, she took all of them with her to The Promised Land.

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