Without Covenant / Graham Allen

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"Graham Allen’s astonishing new collection unflinchingly stares down the horror and fragility of life:  dejection, illness, age, the grim inevitability with which youth becomes no more than ‘a pile of neglected photos’.  But it’s also a book that looks beyond the brute ‘bitterness and bone’ of human existence to the smell and sight of roses, to each snowflake’s drifting mandala, to ‘every sensory second’ of a beauty that comes not too late but exactly on its hour.
    Here is the stuff of no ordinary bildungsroman, taking us from schoolyard betrayal to sexual awakening against the backdrop of the Salvation Army’s interminable  sermons, to painful life lessons acquired amid a night club’s ‘spitting crescendo’. Through it all there flickers the promise of art and music, an unimaginable, unlocatable  world somewhere beyond the drab pock-marked milieu of organised religion, one which liberty, possibility and creative self-definition.
    This is a collection that resonates with an irresistible punk-ish howl, a cry not only of rage and defiance but also of profound, almost sacred affirmation.”

                                                            Billy Ramsell

“Graham Allen’s latest collection Without Covenant draws together pressing themes, and of course, intertexts, challenging our attempted ignorance of their undercurrents running beneath the stories we tell ourselves and language itself. His poems on Parkinson’s conjure and tangle with experiences that will be familiar to those who have it and those who support us. In other poems, the unique perspective of our disease inflects the poet’s vision: ‘The wind picks up, the bees depart,/the mountains darken as clouds hide the sun./You remain in your seat as rain arrives,/struck by how things continue to end.’”
                                                            Kimberly Campanello

“Allen is a steely witness. These poems filled with body, life and unearthly kingdoms face us into the high winds of what it means to be human and hurtling through time and space. Without Covenant harnesses the very best of what poetry can do.”
                                                            Annemarie Ní Churreáin