John Allman

John Allman (1935-2021) spent his childhood in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood of New York City. In 1943 he moved with to Astoria, Queens, where he attended William Cullen Bryant High School until dropping out in 1952. He earned his diploma at night school while working as a laboratory technician in the product control labs of Pepsi-Cola. He then enrolled in Brooklyn College, as a pre-med student, but later transferred to Hunter College in the Bronx. After a period of time spent in California, as a technician, he settled on studying the humanities and chose to become a writer. For his MA in English literature and creative writing from Syracuse University, he studied with Donald Dike, Cecil Lang, Philip Booth and Delmore Schwartz.

Allman has received The Helen Bulls Prize from Poetry Northwest, a Pushcart Poetry Prize, and two National Endowment of the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships in Poetry (1984 and 1990). His work has been widely published in such magazines as The Atlantic Monthly, The American Poetry Review, Paris Review, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, and The Massachusetts Review.

Loew’s Triboro

Poetry by John Allman

In Loew’s Triboro, John Allman’s fourth collection of poems with New Directions, the poet recalls the movie palace in Astoria, Queens, and its centrality to the lives and fantasies of the people in the neighborhood, himself among them. In a combination of prose poems and free verse, sometimes darkly funny, Allman juxtaposes vignettes from the streets of New York with the movies of the period, revisioning such film noir classics as The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity, and The Asphalt Jungle.…
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Curve Away From Stillness

Poetry by John Allman

In Curve Away from Stillness, John Allman affirms the connections between poetry and science. They are, he says, as “old as the ones between poetry and cosmology, beauty and knowledge, pleasure and speculation.” In reading this collection of “Science Poems,” we are reminded of a philosophical tradition in literature that, with Lucretius, sees in the power of love the binding force of the universe. Allman’s poems, however-meditations on “Physics,” “Chemistry,” “Biology,” essential “Principles,” the “Planets”––are grounded in the science of our time, in all its elegance and awesomeness.…
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Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape

Poetry by John Allman

Scenarios for a Mixed Landscape, John Allman’s third collection of poems, is a book as remarkable for its lyricism as it is for its capaciousness, for there seems to be no area of thought, no branch of learning, no dark region of the mind into which the poet is unwilling to delve. His recent Clio’s Children: Dostoevsky at Semyonov Square and Other Poems is a reminder, as the title implies, that history is a narrative art.…
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Clio’s Children

Poetry by John Allman

John Allman’s Clio’s Children is a book of twenty-three narrative poems that, taken together, form a compelling history of modern times, seen through the eyes of exceptional people at key moments of their lives––moments of “historical epiphany” that serve to define an era. Fyodor Dostoevsky, in 1849, standing helpless and hopeless before the firing squad of Tzar Nicholas I; J. Robert Oppenheimer at Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1945, about to witness the first nuclear explosion––these two turning points in personal consciousness are chosen by the poet to mark the century that preceded, and prefigured, our troubled postindustrial world.…
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Allman shows us…factual narratives that reconnect us to our historical roots, giving us a vision of how we got to be who we are, and what we may yet become.
—Richard Fewell, The Small Pond Magazine
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.
The Bloomsbury Review
For Allman, geography is a means of understanding the ways of others, which he does warmly, compassionately, and with novelistic specificity.
—Helen Carr, Times Literary Supplement
Allman’s voice…has a range of many octaves which provides this collection with a variety of tones… Allman’s imagination is capable of startling maneuvers, but he always holds to the tracks of the poem’s subject. He is like one of those specialized pilots at airshows who can fly upside down but close to the ground.
American Book Review
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