Mythic Delirium Books, 2014. $14.95
Having enjoyed Mike Allen’s fiction, I was curious to sample his poetry as well. Allen’s fiction ideas are very weird, and his poetry is weirder still. Wonderfully weird.
Classical themes collide with modern stylistic license in verses that defy the rules yet satisfy a natural rhythm and timeless beauty. Many of the entries are prose poems, but none seem too wordy or out of place in this book.
Most interestingly, Allen uses varied structural techniques to fit the mood and invoke sensibilities from other forms of art: colors and painting terms, musical structures, even playing with the alignment and position on the page illustrating the underlying concept. Some of these pieces read like hymnals, some like ancient spells.
Allen is an artist and words are his clay, his ink, his notes, his instruments. He best describes this himself in “Retracing the Moon”:
I cup the moon in my hands,
lift it from its hook and balance
its weight in wheel and lathe.
I prepare to press fingers in
its silver skin, but think again.
Who am I to cook the clay of dreams?
Hungry Constellations is an excellent collection. It is rare to find genre poetry so artfully rendered. It is full of stars.