The One That Got Away
Graham Allen (2014)
Paperback, ISBN 978-0-9574661-9-7
The One That Got Away presents readers with an eclectic mix of styles and references. It takes the reader on a journey from post-Celtic Tiger Cork to the shores of Lake Trasimeno, buzzing, like one of its many mosquitoes, between contemporary lives, imaginary events, and the historical figure of Hannibal. Often focusing on the impact of imagined events and imaginary lives, it seems haunted by the manner in which reality slips away from thought and language, but also by how we are profoundly affected by things that never happened. Drawing parallels between historically epic and minute natural agents of violence, The One that Got Away provides a sustained if tangential meditation on the post-9/11 world at home and abroad. Flitting between the mythological, the historical, the economic and the private, these poems urge us to consider deeper connections which normally evade the eye and the mind.
Graham Allen was born in Barking, Essex in 1963. He studied in Wales and England before taking his first academic post in Dundee, Scotland, in 1990. He moved to Ireland in 1995 and is now Professor of Literature in the School of English, University College Cork. He has published a number of academic books, including Mary Shelley (2008) and Intertextuality (2000. New Ed. 2011). He has published poetry in a variety of journals and has been short-listed in a number of competitions. The One that Got Away was shortlisted for The Crashaw Prize in 2012, and the title poem won the Listowel Single Poetry Prize in 2010. Allen’s digital poem, Holes, was first published by New Binary Press in 2012.
Graham Allen’s The One That Got Away is an astonishing advance on his earlier poetry. Those I have read interested me but seemed still in transition. This new work is a throwback to the High Romantics. It is haunted by Blake, Shelley, and Keats, and is a worthy continuation of their magnificent tradition.
Should Graham Allen continue to leap ahead of himself like this, he may yet achieve permanence as a poet.
– Harold Bloom, author of The Anxiety of Influence and The Western Canon
Graham Allen shines a light on the processes that connect what we know with how we feel, as well as being witty, exuberant and truthful. These are poems that impel us to search and renew our experience and our ways of thinking. They excavate inside metaphors; to use his phrase, they swivel the maps.
– Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, poet
Reading Graham Allen is an always stimulating and often jolting experience that seekers of unblinkingly engaged poetry will enjoy. The unrecognisability of the present is Allen’s theme and his poems are a kind of anti-prophecy, bearing constant anxious witness to our unsure and destabilizing period in which we cannot guess what’s coming next. The one that got away is a recommended read for all the doubters, questioners and heretics of the literary world.
– Dave Lordan, poet