Randall Mann’s Life
Randall Mann is a famous American poet, who was born in 1972 in Provo, Utah. He is the only son of Field Medalist and Olympic Track runner, Ralph Mann. He started writing poems, when he was just 9 years old. Though he did not have a literary background, he was encouraged to read. He read widely, including the works of John Keats and Robert Frost, during his childhood – and the result was that he developed a sense of writing and decided to become a writer.
In senior high school, his teachers encouraged him with his poetry and he started taking workshops on poetry in college. Currently, he lives in San Francisco and works as an editor. Randall Mann’s poems are set usually in the countryside around San Francisco, California or in Florida and often deal with gay life.
He is mostly influenced by the poets Philip Larkin, Donald Justice, Elizabeth Bishop, and Neruda’s translations. Mann’s poetry is considered to be persistent, vulnerable, bold and ambivalent. He explores the themes of expectation, loss, brutality, and attraction. For his inclination towards that type of form and themes, Mann himself states that, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”
Randall Mann’s Works
Some of the most popular works of Mann include “Straight Razor” in 2013, “Complaint in the Garden” in 2004 that was awarded the Kenyon Review Prize for best poetry, and he also wrote “Breakfast with Thom Gunn” in 2009. Mann was co-author of the “Writing Poems” in 2007.
The judge and poetry editor of the Kenyon Review Prize commented on Mann’s work, saying that in order to create pictures of the flora and landscape of the Caribbean and other areas where he has lived, Mann has followed Donald Justice to Cabeza de Vaca. Several other critics, who have observed the clear depiction of homosexuality in Mann’s work, declared his poetry radical, to which he responded in his own typical way saying “If tenderness between two men is radical—and I suppose it is—then the shameful world needs a new radicalism.”
His poems often reflect the bleak contrast of life in the areas of San Francisco in which the beauty of the surrounding landscape is set against the serious and apparently unfathomable social problems of the city — widespread homelessness and random criminal actions against the gay community. He has also written fictional works which include “Thom Gunn: A memoir of Reading”, “A Poem I Love” and “The Illusion of Intimacy: Discovering John Ashbury”.
Randall Mann’s Style and Popular Poems
The style and language of Mann has united the sophisticated formality with that of a rough subject matter handled with a wonderfully wicked wit. His poems are often considered as the most compelling pieces of writing these days. Whether he satirizes the world of poetry or its narcissism, or evokes the longing, shame or humiliation of adolescence, he takes the readers on a cruising expedition towards “Larkin Street”– a street in San Francisco, and elegizes with control and ferocity about bullied-gay adolescents who committed suicide.
The best and exciting part of his poetry is that he uses a great amount of emotion and an excellent range of tone. The speakers in his poems sneer and swagger, wink and grieve, encounter and submit and often this all happens in a single poem. His poems are beautiful not because of the use of ornaments and sentiments; rather their beauty comes from unwavering truthfulness about experiences that could be unpleasant and from his energy of expression and inventiveness. Though his poems often have a sobering quality, they are normally playful, even celebratory and bawdy.
Randall Mann’s popular poems include: “Bernal Hill”, “Breakfast with Thom Gunn”, “Career”, “Early Morning on Market Street”, “Last Call”, “Nothing”, “Order”, “Passion”, “Straight Razor”, “Song”, “The End of Landscape”, “The Fall of 1992”, “Fiduciary”, “Pure”, “Tender” , “N”, “Halston” , “The Mortician in San Francisco” and “Song”.
More About Mann
The works of Randall Mann has been published in several renowned publications such as in “Poetry”, “Washington Post”, “Paris Review”, “Salmagundi” and “New Republic”. His autobiographical poem “Monday” was published in the Washington Post.