Mann, Jeff 1959- (Jeffrey A. Mann)
Mann, Jeff 1959- (Jeffrey A. Mann)
Born August 8, 1959, in Clifton Forge, VA; son of Perry E. (a lawyer) and Clara Mann; companion of John Ross (an instructional technology specialist). Ethnicity: "White." Education: West Virginia University, B.A. (magna cum laude) and B.S. (magna cum laude), both 1981, M.A., 1984. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Wiccan. Hobbies and other interests: Guitar, dulcimer, Joni Mitchell, Dark Shadows, ethnic food, European travel, Celtic culture.
Home—Hinton, WV. Office—Department of English, 210 Shanks Hall, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0112; fax 540-231-5692. E-mail—[email protected]
Writer, poet, educator. Performed as guitarist and dulcimer player, 1979-83; Pipestem State Park, worked in recreation department, 1980, assistant naturalist, 1981; Lambda Environmental Technologies, contract botanist, 1987; West Virginia University, Morgantown, instructor in English, 1987-89; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, instructor in English, 1989—. Southwest Virginia Governor's School for Science, Mathematics, and Technology, instructor at poetry workshop, 1998 and 1999; judge of poetry contests and other writing competitions; gives readings from his works, including appearances at public schools and senior citizen centers.
Phi Beta Kappa, Gamma Sigma Delta, Xi Sigma Pi.
First place award, poetry by a professor category, Poets and Artists against Hunger Contest, 1995; first place poetry award, Yemassee, 1995; winner, Stonewall Chapbook Competition, 1997, for Bliss; winner, Poetic Matrix chapbook series, 1999, for Mountain Fireflies; winner, Gival Press Chapbook Competition, 2000, for Flint Shards from Sussex; first place, Literal Latte Food Verse Awards, 2000; finalist for National Poetry Book Award, Salmon's Run Press, 2000; first place award, poetry category, Key West Writing Contest, Whitefish Press, 2001; Lambda Literary Award, 2007, for A History of Barbed Wire.
Edge (essays), Haworth Press (Binghamton, NY), 2003.
(With others) Masters of Midnight, Kensington Books (New York, NY), 2003.
Loving Mountains, Loving Men (memoir), Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2005.
A History of Barbed Wire, Suspect Thoughts Press (San Francisco, CA), 2006.
Bliss, Brickhouse Books (Baltimore, MD), 1998.
Mountain Fireflies, Poetic Matrix Press (Yosemite, CA), 2000.
Flint Shards from Sussex, Gival Press (Arlington, VA), 2000.
Bones Washed with Wine, Gival Press (Arlington, VA), 2002.
On the Tongue, Gival Press (Arlington, VA), 2006.
Work represented in anthologies, including Dead Snakes, Cats, and the IRS: Poetry of Rock and Rebellion, edited by Anne Cheney, 1995; Wild Sweet Notes: Fifty Years of West Virginia Poetry, 1950-1999, edited by Barbara Smith and Kirk Judd, 2000; Arts Alive! 2000: Anthology of New River Valley Writers and Poets, 2000; Key West: A Collection, edited by Brett van Emst, 2001; Rebel Yell: Stories by Contemporary Southern Gay Authors, edited by Jay Quinn, 2001; Rebel Yell 2: More Stories of Contemporary Southern Gay Men, edited by Jay Quinn, 2002; I Have My Own Song for It: Modern Poems of Ohio, edited by Elton Glaser and William Greenway, 2002; and Best Gay Erotica 2003, edited by Richard Labonte, 2003. Contributor of poems, articles, and reviews to journals, including Appalachian Heritage, Journal of Appalachian Studies, Potomac Review, Evergreen Chronicles, Prairie Schooner, Callaloo, Harrington Gay Men's Fiction Quarterly, Laurel Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Poet Lore. Poetry editor, West Virginia University Literary Review, 1983. Member of editorial advisory board, Collegiate Press, 1995.
Poet, memoirist, and fiction writer Jeff Mann explores themes of gay sexuality, Appalachia, and rites of manhood in his work. As Kilian Melloy noted in EDGE Boston: "Mann's loves are few, but profound: rugged men, an equally rugged stripe of sexual sharing, the potency of the written word to engage deep-seated emotions that lay well beyond any pleasingly pretty arrangement of phrases." Melloy went on to observe: "But [Mann's] most penetrating love is for poetry. Even Mann's prose is poetic, and when it comes to writing poetry, his stanzas are just as erotic as any well-penned story of sexual heroics." Reviewing his 2002 collection, Bones Washed with Wine, Lambda Book Report reviewer Nathan G. Tipton found the work "both confessional and unrepentant, filled with personal journal-esque observations cloaked in beautifully rendered poetic turns of phrase." In his 2005 memoir, Loving Mountains, Loving Men, many of these themes and styles coalesce. Here Mann describes living as an openly gay man in traditional Appalachia. The book is a mixture of prose and poetry.
Mann told CA: "My parents brought me up to love literature, and my early readings encouraged me to try my hand at writing. In particular, the poetry of Sylvia Plath, which I devoured the year after finishing my undergraduate degrees at West Virginia University, inspired me to take my writing seriously and to return to graduate school with hopes of becoming a poet. I have always been an intense person in both my loves and my hatreds, and poetry became a safe way to release those violent emotions.
"Writing is, of course, catharsis, but beyond that I hope that my readers will recognize in my works the same emotions they have experienced and so perhaps feel less isolated. Poetry has always been a great consolation to me in times of pain and crisis: to read verse composed many years ago and to realize that others have endured what I'm enduring. I hope to give the same consolation to my readers.
"Writing Bliss and Flint Shards from Sussex, I strove to make sense of a difficult and painful relationship, a romantic debacle, as well as to capture, as best I could, the evanescent details of one of the greatest (and most destructive) passions I've ever felt. I am obsessed with mortality, brevity, and loss, and poetry is my paltry attempt to rescue something of my life, my heart's history, my experience of beauty, from oblivion.
"Mountain Fireflies is my way of honoring my family and the culture of Appalachia, my native region. In that book, I commemorate relatives I've loved, all of whom have shaped me and have provided me with the family history that helps put my own struggles in perspective. In this small volume, I also try to capture the mountain landscape to which I'm so attached, as well as the farming culture my father raised me to respect.
"Which writers have influenced my work? Robert Frost, with his careful delineation of natural detail; Walt Whitman, with his mingling of the homoerotic and the natural world; Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, with their intensity and often brutal emotional honesty; Diane Wakoski, with her ability to see poetry and redemption in the simple and the daily, and with her powerful endings; Andrew Holleran, with his lyrical prose; William Faulkner and Hart Crane, with their dense, rhythmical music; Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers, with their outcasts and grotesques.
"My primary motivation for writing is to preserve, in some small way, the details of my emotional and intellectual history; to honor those who have cared for me."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Mann, Jeff, Loving Mountains, Loving Men, Ohio University Press (Athens, OH), 2005.
Lambda Book Report, June 1, 2004, Nathan G. Tipton, "Southern Discomfort," p. 30; spring, 2006, Mary Daly, review of Loving Mountains, Loving Men.
Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2006, review of Loving Mountains, Loving Men.
EDGE Boston,http://www.edgeboston.com/ (August 10, 2006), Kilian Melloy "Sweetness and Light: EDGE Chats with Jeff Mann."
Virginia Tech Web site,https://filebox.vt.edu/users/jemann2 (July 14, 2007), "Jeffrey A. Mann Vita."