A collection of stand-alone poems, certain themes and preoccupations bind the poems of Present together – family, friendship, loss and acceptance, the attempt to gain meaning from the experiences of daily life. Allen’s work is confessional poetry: poetry of the personal and the “I”. In her poems, she attempts to convey that which can’t be expressed by traditional autobiographical modes of writing.
The poems of Present are also concerned with distance – the distances between our real and imagined selves, between the past and the present, between people, and how in all relationships we constantly juggle intimacy and connection with what is unfamiliar and strange. This is true of the characters within Allen’s poems, but also of the relationship between the narrator of the poems and the reader.
Although conversational and plain-spoken, the “I” found in most of these poems cannot be taken for granted as a reliable and stable narrator. This collection experiments with form as well as voice, including found poems, dramatic monologues and extended prose poems.