Like a nightingale, Allen’s latest collection is small, delicate, and full of song. Some poems are fragile, some are witty, others sarcastic, and still others carry with them a sense of resignation.
This collection has an arc – a journey all of its own – bookended by a prologue and an epilogue that speak directly to the reader. In five distinct sections, Allen takes us through the everyday and the extraordinary, the public and the private, the things said and those left unsaid as he explores the light and shade of life – be it life exposed as in ‘Surry Hills Hip Hop’ or life in the shadows as in his touching ‘My Mother’s Home’. Each section is markedly different in tone. The first has a strong, rhythmic heartbeat while the next is lyrical, its poems almost floating off their pages. A later section is possessed by the haunting strains of death and resignation. However, time and inevitability ripple throughout.
As Allen tells us in his prologue
It doesn’t matter how the poem is reaching you –
if it is reaching you
Richard James Allen graduated from UTS in 2005, winning the Chancellor’s Award for the most outstanding doctoral thesis. Fixing the Broken Nightingale is his 10th collection of poems.