Terry Allen’s chapbook, Monsters in the Rain, begins and ends with two dream-like lyric poems that reach back in time to explore a particular family legacy through the stories passed down across generations and geographical locations. There are beautiful, heart-rending elegies here; and longer, multi-layered narratives that are deepened and expanded through the use of masterfully placed moments of lyric suspension and contemplation. There are characters and relatives whose humanity is fully revealed; there are ghosts and the interplay of the uncanny—an acknowledgment of the fact that, no matter how much time has passed, the dead step in and out of our lives at will. In several of these poems, there is a dark humor that is handled so well it serves to deepen the collection’s pathos. A moving collection that explores family, loss, memory, and history, and with love informing and guiding all these poems, what more can we ask, or hope, for?
—Jude Nutter, author of I Wish I Had a Heart Like Yours, Walt Whitman, and three other collections.
Terry Allen’s poems feature tightly-constructed narratives of family and rural life placed in an American landscape that has been nearly obscured by social media and technology. The settings are concrete and certain: small essential dramas that play out upon the ironing board, the stove, the sidewalk, the barn, in bushel baskets and body bags, with conclusions invariably unforeseen. The tone ranges from whimsical to poignant, occasionally chilling, juxtaposing the casual violence of rural life against the horror of murderous excess. Monsters in the Rain left me with awistful recognition of the ways people vanish from our lives, and what remains
—Bridget Bufford, author of Cemetery Bird and Minus One: A Twelve-Step Journey.
Monsters in the Rain is a collection that resists an easy footing. Allen offers us what initially seems to be fond memories of childhood, thoughtful reflections on family history, but the deeper we go in the poems, the clearer it is that Allen has worked for that thoughtful fondness. He well represents the darkness that shadows the family scenes he presents, but he isn’t ruled by it. Neither bitter nor sentimental, Allen gives us a book that, in its best moments, compassionately exposes the complicated reality of loving and losing.