Mudlark No. 48 (2012)

Little Songs
from The Blue Gazebo
by John Allman

About The Blue Gazebo: My last two verse collections, Loew’s Triboro and Lowcountry, were organized largely according to place and a time. In this new collection, The Blue Gazebo, my ninth full-length collection, I employ much more allusion to other writers and artists in what I see as a complex act of retrieval, with the book’s persona (if it has indeed only one persona) a person advancing beyond middle age. The first section, Dreaming Them Back, begins that retrieval, as the speaker re-energizes himself in a kind of chant to and through nature. That chant will give way to poems about art, artists and poets (Magritte, Whitman, Hockney, for example) as “retrieval” becomes an active engagement with image, rhythm, narrative. Part 2, Little Songs, a collection of sonnet-size poems (some indeed being sonnets!), deals with more quotidian happenings, though it also alludes to other figures, e.g. Umberto Saba, Wanda Landowska, Margaret Sanger, as the collection attempts to broaden or deepen its historical reach in what I keep calling its work of retrieval. Part 3, Departures, focuses a bit more on loss, though it too makes allusions, e.g. to Einstein, Titian, St. Joseph, St. Francis, as the (implied) speaker explores the theme of endings, which has been interacting all along with the idea of retrieval. Much of that, I hope, is represented in the title poem, “The Blue Gazebo,” and the final poem, which has the speaker interfacing with the French movie La Moustache.   JA


“I Reject All Likeness”
“You Play Bach Your Way,
     and I’ll Play Him His Way”
Hotel Pool
Extracting Wisdom
Post Card
Literary Man
Post Office
Serious What’s Serious
Trimming Leo’s Toenails
Vachel Lindsay
     and the Whales of California
Oil Change
Waiting Room
For Lucretius

Mike Wallace Interviews 
     Margaret Sanger, 1957
Renting a Life
The Insulated Bag
Listening to the Nightingale
The Trotsky/Stalin Sonnet
Cinnamon Angel Wings
     at Signe’s Heaven-Bound Bakery
Fruit-Fly Memory
The Birds
The Other Side of the Sun
Ceci N’est Pas...
Event Horizon
Song Against

Born in 1935, and initially raised in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City, John Allman, author of eight book-length collections of poetry, two chapbooks, and a volume of short stories, was a high-school drop-out who earned his diploma in night school while working as a lab tech for Pepsi-Cola. Eventually turning away from science for the humanities, and knocking about in many jobs, he earned degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing from Hunter College and Syracuse University (where he worked with Delmore Schwartz and Philip Booth), while becoming more and more involved in writing poetry. At the age of 44, after some years of having his work appear in journals, he published his first book, Walking Four Ways in the Wind (1979), with Princeton University Press in its Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. His most recent poetry collections are Loew’s Triboro (2004), Lowcountry (2007), both from New Directions, and Algorithms, prose poems (2012) from Quale Press. His Inhabited World: New & Selected Poems 1970-1995 (1995) was published by the Wallace Stevens Society Press. His recently completed collections, Older Than Our Fathers and The Blue Gazebo, are making the rounds, looking for a publisher. Allman has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Pushcart Prize in Poetry, and the Helen Bullis Prize from the original Poetry Northwest. He earned his living teaching college English and retired from that in 1997, to have more time for writing. He lives in Katonah, NY, with his wife, Eileen, a Shakespeare and Jacobean Drama scholar and writer. They spend their winters on Hilton Head Island, SC.

Acknowledgments: Some of these Little Songs have previously appeared in Blackbird, Speechless, UCity Review, OnEarth, and Hamilton Stone Review.

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