Book of the Week #4: Vicky Allen’s ‘Broken Things and other tales’

I have to admit that like a parent and your children,  as a publisher you aren’t allowed to have favourites, but if I were allowed, Vicky Allen’s awesome collection ‘Broken Things and other tales’ would be one that would be right up there on my list of ‘books I’m most likely to leave my record collection to’ and frankly what else is there be said about it.

Anyway, here we are with our fourth Book of the Week and I am extremely chuffed to be able to share this brilliant poet and her magical words with you.

You can buy a Signed copy from Vicky Allen via our web site HERE

Broken Things is a gathered handful of poems formed from quiet curiosity at the ordinary and strange in what is found beneath our feet, at our fingertips, in the air about us…

This, the debut collection from the exciting new talent that is the poet Vicky Allen, is a fantastic introduction to her work and a glimpse of what is yet to come.

“With the eyes of a watcher and the pen of a mystic Vicky Allen causes us to slow down and take notice of the world around. Those things we do not see in the rush of our lives. Her words take us into that place where the visible world around us meets the invisible world inside us and somewhere in that confluence our very being in this world is renewed and transformed.”

  • Joel Mckerrow- Writer, Speaker, Poet, Artist Ambassador for TEAR Australia ~


About Vicky Allen


Vicky Allen lives on the south east coast of Scotland. The land, seascapes and rich heritage of story and folklore in Scotland are influential in her poetry.

Recent anthology “Reaching For Mercy” (Proost 2018) features her work, as does the 2019 Dove Tales anthology “Bridges Not Walls” and children’s poetry anthology “Are We In A Book” (Black Agnes Press 2019). She performed her spoken-word show “Wonder Lines” for the 2018 Edinburgh Book Fringe, with further performances taking place in 2019. She regularly participates in open mic and community poetry events. She has work published online and in print with Mslexia, Vox Poetica, The Writers Cafe, Bonnie’s Crew and the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics journal “Stravaig” amongst others. Vicky was the 2018 Faith/Unbelief poetry slam winner.

“Broken Things” is Vicky’s first poetry pamphlet.

Product details

  • Paperback : 28 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1913499030
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1913499037
  • Product Dimensions : 14.81 x 0.18 x 21.01 cm

“Like the Heron in her poem of that name, Vicky Allen takes the time to enquire beneath the fluid surface of her subjects, rewarding us with a clear voiced, finely distilled collection of poems.”

  • Martin Daws, Spoken Word Poet, Creative Educator, author of “Geiriau Gogs” and “Skintight the Sidewalk”. Young People’s Laureate Wales (2013-16)

“I love Vicky’s poetry and it’s been a real honour to be able to collaborate with her in the past. Vicky is a unique mix of storyteller and poet.  Her poems hold together rhythmically yet also have the feel of epic stories with deep meaning and playful humour. She performs with a smile and is able to create those wonderful deep moments of silence when everyone engages with her words and rhymes.”

  • Andy Freeman, writer, poet, founder & co-director of Space to Breathe

“Words arise in all of us, but only a special few can allow themselves to be shaped by them. Vicky is one of those who do. Her words weave rich stories and images that swirl about us then lead us in her direction.”

  • Chris Goan, poet

“Vicky’s poems, at once delicate and robust, earthy and ethereal, transport her listener/reader right to their windswept locales, and indirectly to her heart. On one of her lonesome starry nights or jagged sand paths is where even the cynic can find himself disarmed, nodding reflexively in understanding to faith, longing and wonder.”

  • Rachel Zylstra, singer – songwriter

I asked Vicky a few impertinent questions about her collection, Here’:

1. What was the inspiration for the collection and how long did it take to come together?

Many of the poems in the collection were formed out of long walks with our dog, exploring the fields, hills and (my most favourite of all) the salt marsh near to where I live with my family on the south east coast of Scotland. I love solitude and times of quiet reflection – dog walks and wide open spaces provided precisely the conditions I needed. The walks and the solitude gradually yielded many small observations, small wonderings. I tucked these tiny moments away in my metaphorical pocket and over time they helped me to make sense of wider wonderings in my own life. The poem Broken Things was the culmination of months of puzzlement over the pottery fragments I found in every field margin I walked. The Winter Solstice poem was birthed from noticing, after years of living in the ever-lit amber of city nights in Edinburgh, how I loved the quiet dark of the winter on our hillside in the country. I think the various poems were gathered over a year or so, but I don’t think anyone could have been as surprised as I was to find them forming a little collection in a beautiful book with Hedgehog.

2. How did you get involved with writing poetry – is there a ‘literary tradition’ in your family?

I grew up in a working class family, where trips to the library were an important part of my falling in love with books and story. However, I definitely don’t come from a long line of literary accomplishment! I do remember as a child my dad always had a creative project on the go, despite working long hours, and I take after him in this regard. Books, words and art have been so important in my life. But…I was a little afraid of poetry for much of my life. Was I reading it properly? Have I understood it correctly? Is there a correct way to understand it??
All that said, there came a point in my personal writing practice some years back when I found what I was writing seemed to be…well, poetry. I felt quite conflicted about this, about the idea of messing with something I didn’t think I understood. Then I sort of decided I didn’t really care, and I just wanted to have fun exploring poetic forms! I love to read poetry, and this “don’t care too much” approach has helped with that too – I find so much pleasure and challenge in reading and listening to different poets, without worrying too much about if I would pass an exam in comprehension. Where would we be without a little mystery and wonder?

3. Are you a ‘researcher’ or is your work more imagination-driven?

Probably somewhere between the two. Most of the poems in Broken Things and other tales came out of quiet observation, but were first informed by a bit of curious exploration, such as Winter Solstice, and Broken Things itself. I think being curious about the world we live in invites a certain openness of mind, and we begin to pay attention to things in a slightly different way – such as the quality of light at certain points, or local history stories about landscape and folklore.

4. Tell us something about the book that nobody has mentioned that they have noticed yet.

The Road is a deeply personal little poem. My mum was diagnosed with cancer at the turn of the year 3 years ago, and for a fortnight I made the long journey from my home up to the hospital she was in many, many times. She died just a couple of weeks later. The poem was just me trying to capture the awful sense of fear that accompanied each of those journeys; the round trip was a good eight hours and every second was filled with dread about what I would find when I stopped driving. No one has asked me about that particular poem, but it contains such a universe of grief for me.

5. What is the best comment about the book that you have heard or read?

I have had such lovely feedback, but there’s one particularly beautiful comment amongst those which some of my favourite creatives provided for the book. Joel McKerrow (an absolutely incredible poet, writer and all-round creative tour-de-force) said “With the eyes of a watcher and the pen of a mystic Vicky Allen causes us to slow down and take notice of the world around.” This comment kind of floored me because being a ‘mystic watcher’ is both who I hope I am and who I long to become. Hallelujah for perceptive friends and encouragers!

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