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Elizabeth Allen, Body Language

Winner of the 2012 Anne Elder Award for Best First Collection of Australian Poetry.

Body Language is a strong debut collection. Rather than heralding the sudden arrival of an exciting new voice in Australian poetry this book represents a voice that has been there for some time but is only just now confident enough to speak up and make itself heard, for Allen has been a silent participant and observer in the Australian poetry scene for some time. Here she writes about everyday experiences – doing a crossword, studying a bunch of flowers, watching a bird out the window – as they are refracted through the prism of the poet’s mind with all its obsessions, anxieties and peculiar sensitivities. Allen writes about grief and how we repeatedly make sense of absence, with moving accuracy. Her poetry is mindful and grounded in the body, but it also goes off on unusual imaginative tangents. These poems take us from Sydney to Italy, from the psychiatrist’s office to the hairdresser’s; there is sex, love, and friendship, and even Kate Moss makes an appearance. Allen’s poems are concerned with emotional rather than factual accuracy.

“Elizabeth Allen is a poet who impresses with her ability to gain meaning from the most subtle contingencies of life. Sensitive, understated and intense, lyrical but grounded, this is a strong and assured collection.”

Adam Aitken

“The poems in Elizabeth Allen’s Body Language explore notions of identity and selfhood inflected by the knowledge and reality of death, that great leveller. They are also meditations on loss and acceptance, the joys of daily life. I am impressed by the risks she takes—being true to the experience but, most importantly, remaining true to the materiality of the poem itself. Quietly, and in her own time, Allen has become a poet, a poet of the body but also of the heart.”

Nicolette Stasko


Savouring the Undertow: Mark Roberts reviews ‘Body Language’ by Elizabeth Allen on Rochford Street Review.

Elizabeth Allen’s poetry has appeared in many major literary journals and anthologies. She is the author of a chapbook, Forgetful Hands (Vagabond Press, 2005), and a full-length collection, Body Language (Vagabond Press, 2012), which won the Anne Elder Award. She has run poetry workshops for adults and children through Number Forty Seven gallery and The Red Room Company’s National Poetry Education Program. Elizabeth Allen lives in Sydney where she currently works as the events manager at Gleebooks, and was one of the judges of the inaugural Noel Rowe Poetry Award. She will be a writer-in-residence at the Arteles Creative Centre in Finland for two months during 2016.

Elizabeth Allen, Body Language
2012. 76 pages. ISBN 0980511321
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