John Allman's prose poems in Algorithms go forth in a kind of wanderjahr to discover or be discovered. These prose poems possess a different kind of urgency, a vitality that almost defies boundaries, a freedom to span discourses and leap across vocabularies. Allman is free to follow his mindful wanderings, landing us in Croatia in 1991, navigating with Columbus in 1492, witnessing a drug bust, watching his wife's root canal, and examining the frozen remains of princess in Siberia. At the same time, the notion of an algorithm, the idea that, given a certain origin, a thing in process must become x or y, provides a way of understanding that each poem encompasses a fate, destined to become only itself—in essence, that boundaries are inherent in being. Ultimately, this points to Allman's unresolved conundrum: the desire to be something beyond one's self, but one can never escape one's own being, and its limits—for what then would I and Not-I be?
Praise for Algorithms:
"John Allman is master of the packed, surprise phrase, the sharp insight, intense articulated moment. From 'prickings of consciousness' which Baudelaire identified as the core of the prose poem, stories cross thresholds, opening up wide vistas. They call us out and into a fascinating country where the unexpected clicks into place. From these deep, 'broken,' musical narratives real life rises and gleams. I admire this collection enormously. --Brian Swann
Praise for John Allman's other books:
"Allman is among the first rank of American poets––he holds his place for his consistently fine ventures into new forms and ways of seeing." Reamy Jansen––The Bloomsbury Review
"..the lyric mode proves him to be a poet of rare expansiveness and imaginative gifts." -- Publishers Weekly on Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape
"Curve Away From Stillness ...is a book for people who have time for reading, and re-reading, and closing the book and taking it up again, perhaps with colored pencils to trace the complexity of the metaphor webs, the Shandean simultaneities, the recitatives, the arias, the ensembles... . it is a love poem, and the complex and delicate metaphoric structure of the book, taken as a whole, is the lover's dance between the beloved and the universe."
Marion Stocking-- Beloit Poetry Journal
"Allman uses the formal powers of verse to bring shapeliness and elegance to the random mess of his own remembered experience.... Loew's Triboro is an eloquent meditation on the way mind, body, language, and desire get infused with the ghostliness of popular culture, stories and pictures inhaled in the dark." Roger Gilbert––Michigan Quarterly Review
"Allman goes back and forth between specificity and grand statement effortlessly, as though the speaker is not so much part of the landscape—the weather, the birds, the grains of sand we feel beneath our toes—as he embodies it. As our masterful author puts it at the end of 'Watching Weather' as he watches snow on TV, the poems resemble a lake effect, 'careless as the kiss of a stranger.' "Daniel Nester-- Bloomsbury Review on Lowcountry
"I say this rarely about contemporary poetry books: Inhabited World is a truly major collection." --Dick Allen, American Book Review
" Allman's imagination is capable of startling maneuvers, but he always holds to the track of the poem's subject." -- Billy Collins, American Book Review
"[Allman] handles his narratives the way somebody might set about untying a formidably knotted piece of rope, grabbing hold of an end and following it back and forth, under and over as it twists and turns on itself, but never losing sight of the fact that the thing is finally, all one piece… Nothing in this world presents such an unyielding, ordinary face that Allman can't recover something strange and wonderful from it." ––The Washington Post on Descending Fire and Other Stories