One of Australia’s most uniquely versatile and inventive creative artists, charismatic Dr Richard Allen has a multi-award-winning track record as a writer, director, choreographer, filmmaker, performer, new media artist, yogi and scholar. This is his tenth book. His previous books include ‘The Kamikaze Mind ‘(Brandl & Schlesinger) and the NSW Premier’s Literary Award-nominated ‘ Thursday’s Fictions’  (Five Island Press ).

Deceptively small ,light and fragile , ‘ Fixing the Broken Nightingale’ is full of his explosively powerful poetry , vividly , eloquently written and full of short, sharp immediacy .It has a helpful table of contents and  is divided into five sections and includes as well prologue and epilogue poems . For some of the poems the layout on the page is vitally important (for example, ‘Gone Fishin’’ and ‘Armistice’). There is a feeling of movement and dance in almost all the poems.

‘Natural Disasters ‘the first section, is a medley of darkly comic verse – sarcastic, witty comments about life. There is a rap/performance poem included, ‘Surry Hills Hop Hip’ , that has a distinctive rhythm and beat . Time and words are themes that ripple throughout this section.

‘Unanswered Questions’, the second section, is an intimate aching journey about various sorts of love – love (re)awakened, deferred , lost , remembered ,haunted ..There is a Joyce like stream of consciousness in ‘It doesn’t take long to forget’, contrasted with the delicate brushstrokes of ‘Unstill Life’. ‘Travel Companion’ leaves us in a breathless whirl. Was the lyrical, intimate ‘Cradled in the elbow of time and space’ written for a Timelord? This section ends with the wonderful, very moving ‘The Optics of Relationship, or With this Poem I Thee Wed’ written for a friend’s wedding.

 The third section ‘Occasional Truths’ includes reflections on time, death and aging and is haunted by people and memories. Extremely personal poems about family are also included – particularly the very strong and powerful ‘KOKODA’.

‘Flickering Enlightenment’, the fourth section ,examines the themes of doubt, transcendence and surrender . It asks big questions about faith, religion and the concept of grace. The themes of murder , death and peace are also examined .There is the melancholy bleakness of ‘Unfinished Poem’ .The deep sea monsters of our nightmares are confronted in ‘Gone Fishin’ . A cry for global peace is uttered in ‘The Secret Language of Border Guards and Those Who Wish to Cross’.

The final section, ‘A Scheme for Brightness’ which melds into the epilogue , reasserts and reaffirms the value of art  – and in this case especially poetry – when confronted by daunting and unanswerable questions. The fragility of creativity and the enduring of the universe are asserted as in the haunting ‘Disappearing Soul’ and we are left with the feeling that poetry will live forever as shown in the Epilogue ‘Forgotten Nectar in the Sleeper’s Cave’.

Publisher: Flying Island Books, an imprint of ASM (Macau) and Cerberus Press (Markwell, NSW), in their Australian Pocket Poets Series, edited by Christopher (Kit) Kelen.

ISBN number: 97-899965-42-58-9

No of pages: 114

AUD cost: $10

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