Pleasures of the Game, winner of the 11th Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, is a book of deceptively playful poems, of sparkling surfaces that conceal dark undercurrents. Its subjects include games of all kinds: from schoolyard Double Dutch to the chess match of love, from painters’ illusions to professional ice hockey, from the stratagems of spies to the life-and-death game we play against the universe.
“There is a striking intersection in Pleasures of the Game between iamb and rhyme and the modern landscape they flash over like summer lightning …. There is nothing nostalgic in the formal disposition of these poems. They are exhilarated by their moment, engaged by the paradoxes, ready for the experience.” —From the Foreword by Eavan Boland
“Pleasures of the Game does something important that almost no poetry collection written now (debut or otherwise) seems inclined to do—it has fun. Our show on earth may be brutish and short, Allen seems to say, but the least we can do is have a good time while we wait for the curtain to fall.” —Robert Walker, Birmingham Poetry Review
“[The] title is perfect: it’s a book entirely devoted to what poetry can do to give us pleasure … The game being played throughout the book is the game of verse-making, and it is being played with virtuosic deftness.” —Maryann Corbett, Smartish Pace
“I admire the confidence, the casual air of mastery … A poet with such linguistic and moral resourcefulness is one to read and reread.” —Stephen Kampa, The Hopkins Review