Example poetry

Professor Jeff Franklin recommends Randall Mann’s poetry

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In our Wonderwork Series, CU Denver students, faculty, staff, and alumni recommend a book, podcast, TV show, movie, and more. that deserves more attention. Our ultimate goal is to promote a more diverse and inclusive book and media culture. June is LGBTQ + Pride Month, so we’ll be focusing on LGBTQ + designer artwork or LGBTQ + issues. Name your favorite Wonderwork by emailing [email protected] or posting on social media with #CUDenverWonderWork.


Randall Mann writes beautiful, daring, dazzling and inspiring poems. Some explicitly speak of being a gay man. Some speak of what it has been like to be homosexual in America over the past 40 years, aware and sensitive to this often elegiac history. Some deal with other subjects and are just very good poems.

Randall Mann’s books of poetry include Complaint in the garden, Shaver, Breakfast with Thom Gunn, and A better life. He has also written two books on crafts: The illusion of intimacy and Write poems.

I once heard the American novelist John Gardner say that in order to write politically, you must first write excellently. Only very skilful writing manages to convey the importance of its social or political perspective. Many poets are explicit about their identity and the emotional suffering it has brought with it, and many poets offer blunt social or political commentary, but few write poems that are both beautiful and stimulating, making masterful use of the tools they poetry history makes available. Randall Mann does.

Reading one of Randall’s poetry books, you find snap lines, rhymes that surprise and make you laugh, double-edged, self-reflective humor, social criticism without ideology, and a breathless pace, like eating a box. of chocolates all at once, no desire to stop.

Here is a short example, his poem “Modern Art” by Breakfast with Thom Gunn:

After seeing the satyrs in the Cadillac, I greeted
a taxi: Gold’s Gym, please, and walk
lively. So we can still be a man and take a step
Classes? I growl at the pec-deck: I am greeted

by the neck like the queen
of a scorching country. (It’s a myth,
besides, the size of my Nikes.) Fuck myth:
Give me a man, a hot and horrible queen,

any day. If i shave
my chest and my yes and my happiness,
will I find someone, happiness?
Just when I start to peak I’m going to shave

my head, instead (think Full Metal Jacket).
And put on a cult animal jacket.

Randall has a new book this year, A better life, or, better yet, take it to campus to read some.

Jeff Franklin, PhD, professor of English


Jeffrey Franklin grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee, although for over 20 years he made Colorado his home. His collection of poems, Where we sleep, will be released on Kelsay Books in August 2021 — preview it at JeffreyFranklin.com. His previous collection of poetry is For the lost boys (Ghost Road Press, 2006). His poems have been published in many literary journals, including Crab Orchard Review, Hudson Reviews, Measure, New England Review, Rattle, Shenandoah, Journal of the Humanities of the South, and Southern poetry review. One of his manuscripts received the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, and his poetry has been published in Best American Poetry. Since 2000 he has been the poetry editor for the North Carolina Literary Review. He received his MFA and PhD from the University of Florida and works as an English professor at the University of Colorado at Denver, now teaching primarily English novel history and critical theory. His recent scientific books are The Lotus and the Lion: Buddhism and the British Empire (2008) and Spirit Matters: Occult Beliefs, Alternative Religions, and the Crisis of Faith in Victorian Britain (2018), both from Cornell University Press. He lives in Denver with his lifelong partner, Judy Lucas.

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