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‘Text Messages from the Universe’ was inspired by ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, or, as is more correctly translated, ‘The Natural Liberation Through Understanding in the Between’. 

It echoes the form of the original Tibetan Buddhist text, which guides souls on their 49-day transmigration through the ‘Bardo’, or intermediate state, between dying and rebirth.   

‘Text Messages from the Universe’ immerses its readers in subjective states of consciousness they might experience when they 'die'. Placing them in a position of going through a journey into their own interior worlds of dreams and projections, it imagines what they might see and think and hear in a seamless but fragmentary flow of poetic images in which time and space, and cause and effect logic, are turned on their heads.  

‘Text Messages from the Universe’ has a cover painting created especially by Australian artist Michelle Hiscock and is richly illustrated with four-colour images from author Richard James Allen's film of the same title. 

Designed by Dylan Jones, each page pulls you deeper into the depths – or is that higher into the heights? – of its whirling apparitions of after death.

About The Author

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Richard James Allen (Pronouns: He/Him), is an Australian poet, born in Kempsey, New South Wales, on the unceded lands of the Dunghutti People. He now lives on the lands of the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, in Redfern, a centre of Indigenous migration and a hub of Aboriginal activism for many years.   

Richard’s writing has appeared widely in journals, anthologies, and online, and he has been a popular reader at multiple performing arts venues, over many years.  His latest book, ‘Text Messages from the Universe’ (Flying Island Books, 2023), reflects a lifelong engagement with Buddhist and Yogic philosophies.  A film adaptation by The Physical TV Company won six awards, including Best Screenwriter of the Year Award at the Mumbai International Film Awards, and was a Finalist for Best Narrative Feature Film at the ATOM Awards in Melbourne.  

His novel ‘More Lies’, published by Interactive Press in 2021, was, in an earlier incarnation, shortlisted for the Griffin Award for New Australian Playwriting.  

His previous poetry book, ‘The short story of you and I’, was published by UWA Publishing in 2019.  A suite of poems, ‘Minimum Correct Dosage’, was commissioned in the same year by Red Room Poetry, as part of its Poetry Fellowship project.  Earlier critically acclaimed books of poetry and fiction include ‘Fixing the Broken Nightingale’ (Flying Island Books), ‘The Kamikaze Mind’ (Brandl & Schlesinger) and ‘Thursday’s Fictions’ (Five Islands Press), shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry.    

Richard is well-known for his multi-award-winning career as a filmmaker and choreographer with The Physical TV Company, and as a performer in a range of media and contexts, including his leading role in the Australian psychological thriller, ‘Bloodshot Heart’, currently streaming for free on SBS on Demand.  

Former Artistic Director of the Poets Union Inc., and director of the inaugural Australian Poetry Festival, Richard also co-edited the landmark national anthology of writing for performance, ‘Performing the Unnameable: An Anthology of Australian Performance Texts’ (Currency Press and RealTime).  A First-Class Honours graduate from Sydney University, he won the Chancellor’s Award for best doctoral thesis at the University of Technology, Sydney.

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