Astrid Alben

Zigmunds Lapsa (Design) TJ International (Printer)




ISBN: 9781916052024


Publication date: 18 November 2019



Plainspeak is the highly anticipated second collection by Astrid Alben, following her acclaimed debut Ai! Ai! Pianissimo. In these startling poems, readers will experience Alben’s unorthodox alter-ego-thinking-out-louder approach with the same exhilaration as they might engage with art or jazz.

The poems in Plainspeak deal with place, ancestral ties, solitude, flight, insomnia and the embattled absurdities of daily life.

Alben plays with formal boundaries, linguistic identity and the lyrical poetic voice, writing with rhythmic vitality and visual imagination. The poems tell multiple narratives whilst retaining the freedom of abstraction; they are supple and precise, each one an installation evoking different aspects of a particular theme.

Plainspeak reinvents play and logic, is poignant, humorous, absurd and anguished: a book for and of the times we live in.

‘Astrid Alben’s poems occupy a text-transcending space that is part dance, part art installation, and part astrophysics. An heir to European experimentalism as much as to John Berryman’s Dream Songs, Plainspeak is a multi-vocal poetry: unpredictable, elegant and wholly original.’ – Kathryn Maris

‘The reader gasps at the spliced, fizzing language and dark comedy of Alben’s limber couplets. The unstill persona tussles with an intrusive daimon-companion “Poet”, moving allusively through the blood and ballet of 100 years of European history while preoccupied with the everyday tasks of living, enjoying, jarring against a life.’ – Vahni Capildeo

‘Alben’s lines move at the speed of a sent text, the speed of light – they plainspeak to our current condition… you finish the book in seeming seconds, then start again… track the voice and The Poet as they try to outmanoeuvre each other in a tight race to the right-hand margin – and beyond…’ – Matthew Caley