Born and raised in New York City, Michael Palmer was educated at Harvard and lived on the East Coast before moving to San Francisco. The most lyrical of the well-known writers associated with Language poetry—he is sometimes considered one of the movement's precursors—Palmer shares their interest in fragmented and disjunctive narrativity, depersonalized speakers, and investigations of how language works as an independent system of meanings. But musicality and wit, along with a regular haunting by vestigial narrativity, distinguish his work from many others in the movement. Similarly, he shares their interest in philosophy and critical theory, but has a stronger surrealist component in his poetry. Several of his books include poem sequences. Palmer has taught occasionally and collaborated on several projects with dancers and artists, including writing numerous dance scenarios for the Margaret Jenkins Dance Company and books with the painters Irving Petlin and Sandro Chia.