Palmer Smith had a unique childhood. She grew up in New York city with her family, but each summer her mother would take Smith and her brother on a road trip down the eastern coast to visit family in the Ponte Vedra and Jacksonville areas. She fell in love with the differences between the two states, the fun outdoor activities she could do in Florida but not in New York, and all the nooks and crannies of the North Florida area.
Smith eventually went on to complete college at Sarah Lawrence, a prominent liberal arts university in New York, where she received an undergraduate degree in creative writing, French literature, and pre-law. She never forgot her love of Florida, and after years of writing both for school and for pleasure, she began to compile a poetry book filled with stories of her time on the First Coast.
“I think the most interesting aspect of a poem is that you are really just one-on-one with the reader, and it can feel like a conversation,” Smith said. “Even though you are talking to a stranger, you can really connect over something.”
Her poetry collection, titled "The Butterfly Bruises," contains 80 poems and short stories about Smith’s experiences and hardships. The collection is organized into six themed poetry sections and one final section of short stories. Smith said that out of the six, her favorite is the section titled “Moonshine Boy,” as it pertains to her memories of the sights, sounds, and smells of that Southern sojourn and Northeastern vs. Southern American culture. Other sections of the collection focus on themes such as family, nature vs. technology, and the imagination of the introvert. She wanted her readers to question what it means to be living and communicating in today’s world.
“A majority of the poems are about dealing with a hardship or a difficult situation and learning how to get out of it, finish it, and move on from it,” Smith said.
Some of the poems in her collection have already been published in various publication magazines and websites, or on her Instagram, which is how Smith said she has cultivated a supportive community of other writers and/or fans. She followed the advice of her college professors and waited until she had already established herself in the literary scene before compiling a book.
"The Butterfly Bruises" went for sale online and on stands May 15, 2021, at various bookstores in the Jacksonville/Ponte Vedra area. Since Smith knew booksellers in the area, she was able to get her poetry collection into well-known North Florida bookstores such as Chamblin’s, San Marco Books, Story and Song, and The Bookmark. She will make an appearance at some of these locations for book signings on June 18 and 19.
At the end of the day, Smith said that the best part about her poetry journey has been connecting with people.
“If you can make people feel less alone with art, to me, that is [the] goal.”
To find Palmer Smith’s tour dates, or purchase a copy of "The Butterfly Bruises," go to thebutterflybruisesbook.com.