Poetry. PLEASURES OF THE GAME, the latest winner of the prestigious annual Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, is a book of deceptively playful poems, of sparkling surfaces that conceal dark undercurrents. Its subjects include games of all kinds: from schoolyard Double Dutch to the chess match of love, from painters' illusions to professional ice hockey, from the stratagems of spies to the life-and-death game we play against the universe.
"The speaker of this book…like all the best speakers in poetry, is a mix of music and contradiction. On the one hand a wry, engaged and often resigned announcer as far as the themes go. But on the other an exuberant and activist maker of forms, urging us to look away from the dark towards the light. And this, I have no doubt, is the speaker the reader will follow willingly through this charmed adventure in measure and meaning." —from the foreword by Eavan Boland
"With his debut collection, Austin Allen announces himself as a poet to watch, one of the liveliest and most assured voices of the new generation. His expert verse craft is not, as is so often the case, mere ostentation but an essential way of meaning—musical, magical, mercurial. As in 'The Charm,' his poems (like all good talismans) burn 'the same quick hole in each thief's pocket' and return 'bearing your name'—pinpointing each of us in what passes away. It gives me great pleasure to report that the PLEASURES OF THE GAME are myriad." —David Yezzi
"It matters, I think, that in the title of Austin Allen's first book, the word 'pleasures' is plural, for Allen's work offers a variety of pleasures in what is clearly a win-win situation for writer and reader. They begin with our recognition of his mastery of technique and continue with a realization of the dazzling uses to which it has been put throughout. The word 'game' in the title is…a reference to the zero-sum game that Omar Khayyám knew as life, but whose reckoning could be (as Scheherazade knew) postponed indefinitely. Pleasures of the Game is a dazzling debut volume." —Charles Martin
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About the Author
Austin Allen was born in Middletown, Connecticut, in 1984. He received an MFA in Poetry from Johns Hopkins University in 2012 and has worked as a book editor, teacher, and digital archivist. His poetry and essays have appeared widely in print and online. He has taught as a lecturer in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University and currently lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he studies and teaches at the University of Cincinnati.