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The first part, Natural Disasters, consists of an array of darkly comic verse.
The second section, Unanswered Questions, is a journey through love awakened, lost, remembered, deferred, rediscovered.
Part three, Occasional Truths, contains gentler, personal poems of family, reflections on aging and death.
The fourth section, Flickering Enlightenment, explores themes of transcendence, doubt and surrender.
The final part, A Scheme for Brightness, leading into the epilogue, probes and finally affirms the value of art and in particular poetry in the face of the daunting and unanswerable questions.
“A poet with a subtle, satirical bent, he often renders the mundane (spiders’ webs, umbrellas, text messages, taxis) luminous and metaphoric, while interrogating themes of love and loss with poignant artistry…Superb.”
“Explosively powerful poetry, vividly, eloquently written and full of short, sharp immediacy.”
Sydney Arts Guide (full review)
“A reflection upon identity and mystery, desolation and exaltation, the stealth of desire and the tenacity of love…Elliptical and meditative…A deep humanity is palpable in Allen’s verse.”
Trove (full review)
“The quest for enlightenment is … a concern in Richard James Allen’s Fixing the Broken Nightingale … there’s no more time to be tentative – this is poetry that lays its subjects bare, asks huge questions and refuses to allow us to read from a safe distance… Allen doesn’t ever seem daunted. On the contrary, he seems fearless, at times even exposed.
Cordite (full review)
“The ‘broken nightingale’ constantly hovers between pleasure and transience… full of rich, sometimes provocative, frequently evocative poetry.”
Australian Poetry Journal (full review)
“In Fixing the Broken Nightingale Richard James Allen treats the reader to a wealth of clear, sparse, beautifully poised lyrics that play off the idea of poetry as a chronicle of life. Yet with his strong instinct for humour, strangeness, frailty, sadness and grit, Allen does much more than this. These poems seem to come straight out of reality and deliver it whole. The refreshing, fully alive poems in this collection show how simplicity and wisdom are still one very powerful combination.”
Melbourne Spoken Word (full review)
“A small treasure of a book – one you might pop into your bag and dip into at idle moments for bursts of inspiration, contemplation or solace.”
Mascara Literary Review (full review)
“Like a nightingale, Allen’s latest collection is small, delicate, and full of song. Some poems are fragile, some are witty, others sarcastic, and still others carry with them a sense of resignation.”
UTS Newsroom (full review)
“Fixing the Broken Nightingale … is a journey from the comical and personal to the profound and provoking. … Fixing the Broken Nightingale first comically points a finger at the reader’s chest and then directs their gaze to the dark firmament of death, doubt, and smallness above them, leaving you with a feeling of having sped through life in a mere hundred pages.”
The NSW Writers’ Centre Blog (full review)
Fixing the Broken Nightingale contains poems of paradox, cynicism, tenderness, outrage and resignation, fleeting lust and enduring love, observation, invention and glimpses of enlightenment. Critically acclaimed as “superb” (West Australian), “entertaining” (Canberra Times, Sydney Morning Herald, Age), “fearless…dark yet hilarious” (Cordite), “explosively powerful” (Sydney Arts Guide), it is “a journey from the comical and personal to the profound and provoking” (NSW Writers’ Centre Blog), which “hovers between pleasure and transience…full of rich…evocative poetry” (Australian Poetry Journal), “a reflection upon identity and mystery, desolation and exaltation, the stealth of desire and the tenacity of love…elliptical and meditative” (Trove).