Pleasures of the Game
by Austin Allen
Chipping Norton and Baltimore: Waywiser Press, 2016.
Austin Allen’s first collection, the winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, has much in it to gratify readers favoring traditional form in verse. It would most likely have appealed to Anthony Hecht, not only for its stylistic polish but for its view of the tenuousness of humanity’s hold on order and happiness in a universe not given to coddling. Order and happiness are nevertheless capable of being found, in the opinion of both poets. Hecht’s final collection was entitled The Darkness and the Light. Allen’s title, Pleasures of the Game, suggests a similar sense of balance, weighing possible enjoyments against the unyielding demands of the rule book, without which the game ceases to exist.