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White Lines

The cover of White Lines

White Lines

by Gary Allen

96pp Paperback

ISBN 978-1-904852-34-6

Published 1st March 2013

£8.99 post free in UK.

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Gary Allen was born in Ballymena, County Antrim in 1959. After leaving college he spent several years travelling and working in Europe before settling in The Netherlands for some time. Gary's poetry has been widely published throughout Europe and North America. He is also a published short story writer and has a novel Cillin currently in print. Gary now lives, once again, in Ballymena.

In White Lines, Gary Allen explores the territory of his being - Ulster and the Netherlands - and, in doing so, depicts raw, immediate landscapes as deftly as George Mackay Brown did in his Scottish roots.

This is poetry that goes for the jugular. Allen's verse is marked by its potent, dynamic syntax, and also by his story-teller's sensibility. Skilfully crafted in their shifting perspectives, there's a great verve and sense of surprise in his lines. He has a fantastic ability to swoop into vivid detail while keeping the poem sweeping onwards. This is tough, sometimes brutal poetry, but still singing, a rich and rough music, just right for our times.

White Lines evokes a stark and sometimes dangerous world, where Allen's pared down approach to language and image resonates with the darkness contained within it. As we have come to expect of him, the poems are well made and the imagery is strong and memorable, there is much spiritual questioning in the poems, but Allen does not allow his reader any easy answers, preferring instead to record an open verdict.

from Heavy Water
my friend in the upstairs flat
crosses the hall for the umpteenth cycle
is a spirit that haunts, like one's own breath
is a graveyard shiver that reminds you
of touch, of regret, of smell

is the hell I surround myself with
the closeness that means another empty day
the map of an upstairs bed
the ditch stitched hinterland
of river and sewage waste ground -

and somewhere, in a secluded patch
in the pine forests on the highland
deep in the cool burial bog
darted over by midges and fledgling birds
sap is drying out, bark burning
wood is slowly mutating.


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Last modified: 9 February 2013