A collection of stand-alone poems, certain themes and preoccupations bind the poems of Present together – family, friendship, loss and acceptance, the attempt to gain meaning from the experiences of daily life. Allen’s work is confessional poetry: poetry of the personal and the “I”. In her poems, she attempts to convey that which can’t be expressed by traditional autobiographical modes of writing. The poems of Present are also concerned with distance – the distances between our real and imagined selves, between the past and the present, between people, and how in all relationships we constantly juggle intimacy and connection with what is unfamiliar and strange. This is true of the characters within Allen’s poems, but also of the relationship between the narrator of the poems and the reader. Although conversational and plain-spoken, the “I” found in most of these poems cannot be taken for granted as a reliable and stable narrator. This collection experiments with form as well as voice, including found poems, dramatic monologues and extended prose poems.
“Elizabeth Allen is clever with her construction of poetry, using vocabulary and descriptive lists from other specialist fields like fishing, art colour names and therapies, to connect her readers with recognisable hooks and poetry melodies. Look out for the ‘suicide hook’, Derwent pencils and yoga poses.” – The Australian Writer (Review of the award-winning Body Language).
"Elizabeth Allen explores dark territory with extraordinary deftness of touch, warmth and humour. Freestanding lyrics of precise and unusual observation find their place within and alongside delicately arranged prose sequences. A book not to miss. Read it as a whole and savor it poem by poem." Vivian Smith
"I haven’t laughed so much in a long while. It is as if these poems are the distilled memoir of a wit and a raconteur with heart. Elizabeth Allen’s Present is a luminous opening of the private world onto the public, through a voice that is at once modest and acerbic, sensitive and surprising. This book is a gift not only for poetry lovers, but for all thoughtful human beings attempting to navigate the contemporary world." Jessica L. Wilkinson
“Elizabeth Allen is clever with her construction of poetry, using vocabulary and descriptive lists from other specialist fields like fishing, art colour names and therapies, to connect her readers with recognisable hooks and poetry melodies. Look out for the ‘suicide hook’, Derwent pencils and yoga poses.” The Australian Writer (Review of the award-winning Body Language).
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, Present
2017. 112pp. ISBN 978-1-922181-84-8
Release date: June 1.