'In his retelling of the myth of Orpheus – where Eurydice is described as ‘the profoundly obscure point to which art and desire, death and night, seem to tend’ – Maurice Blanchot charts the relationship between poetry and loss, by which to desire is to necessitate, even to invoke, obscurity: to confine the object of desire, along with the poet, to song; to translate life into word, and, through word, into dream. In this conception, to write is always to admit to, but also to dwell with, loss – to experience the loss of a once-loved person as a mode of living. When Nerval writes that dreams are a second life, he not only refers to the dreams we experience in sleep, but also to the dreams that arise as a consequence of lost desires, dreams perhaps thwarted by chance: of lives once meant, but never lived.
'These lives often coexist with our own as lost alternatives, counter-experiences or impossible possibilities; they lie within the everyday like a subtext, or a haunting. To transmute desire into language is to erect a monument to that desire, to announce it as permanent, but also to profoundly transform both the subject and the object of desire: to confine them, in their relationship, to the monument and the tomb. Since evocation presupposes loss or absence – as Mallarmé showed – then to write is to desire something that continually slips away, and must once again be invoked in a series of repetitions and beginnings that both conjure and obscure. '–John Hawke' (Publication summary)
'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.'
Source: Publisher's blurb.