These poems will surprise you. Their deep concerns are handled in ways that the reader can’t help but be reminded, if not stunned into revelations, concerning the human predicament. Terry Allen’s Art Work opens with the poem Isadora, about one of the most famous avant-garde dancers of the 20th Century. We see in her life the rewards and dangers of opening up to the world, how we are liberated and yet die in the act of liberation, leaving the reader with the echo of her words, no matter the risk, “Don’t let them tame you.” Allen then takes us on a wild ride through history but never abandoning the historical moment to the past, but showing how it touches the present moment, as when he pays tribute to the florescence of ancient Greek playwriting, especially, the comedies of 2,500 years ago, but then the poem begins its closing with these lines: It’s like Bertolt Brecht/said…one shouldn’t fight/dictators one should/ridicule them, and how tragically that sentiment reflects the present day. Reader, these poems are all in the early pages of Art Work. You have so much more to look forward to. From a 1910 Vatican decree against Modernism to the speak-easy years between the two World Wars, to a delightful dialogue between father and son on the way to school as they challenge each other to name famous movie dogs, and expect to find Latin, Cicero, Harry Potter, and Trivial Pursuit banging up against each other in a single poem, all telling us that history never stops revealing itself to us. This book is a masterful achievement.
–Walter Bargen, first Poet Laureate of Missouri and author of Pole Dancing in the Night Club of God
The poems in Art Work are both accessible and engaging. Terry Allen’s involvement in theater and his love of jazz shines through on many pages. This is a collection to read, savor, and read again.
– Karen Loeb, Eau Claire, Wisconsin Writer in Residence, 2018-2020, author of Jump Rope Queen & Other Stories
Terry Allen’s poems pull you in like an intriguing conversation and leave you with a jolt of surprise and smiling at their sly humor.
–Rebecca Graves, librarian, poet, and author of The Racoon at the Bottom of the Stairs
Terry Allen was born in Brisbane, Australia. He is emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he taught theatre arts. His poems have appeared in numerous journals and he is the author of the chapbook, Monsters in the Rain. He lives in Columbia, Missouri with his wife Nancy.