elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

2015 Rainbow Awards Honorable Mention: Rebels by Jeff Mann

Rebels by Jeff Mann
Gay Poetry
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Lethe Press (April 20, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1590211146
ISBN-13: 978-1590211144
Amazon: Rebels

Poets have been responding in lyric to the bloody aspects of war since Homer's era, and the American Civil War, in its scale and ferocity, was unquestionably one of the bloodiest. In Rebels, acclaimed poet Jeff Mann ranges the battlefields where such destruction occurred: famous battles like Malvern Hill, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, and Cold Harbor, and those lesser known, such as Scary Creek and Cloyd's Farm. In his travels, Mann muses on Southern heritage and the sufferings of the Confederate people, both soldiers and civilians. As he did in his popular Civil War-era novels, Purgatory and Salvation, Mann ''queers'' the War as few other writers have, examining the conflict from a gay man's perspective. In this fine edition, several of Mann's poems have been illustrated by artists, making this volume unique in the fields of both Civil War studies and contemporary poetry.

This is a book of poetry so I'm not sure how to apply the fiction categories, but it is extremely good poetry: vivid, articulate, and grounded in history. Mann's excellent knowledge of the era brings each line to life and recreates a time many of us have lost our connection to. The characters, their relationships, and the erotic stirrings are simultaneously uplifting and tragic. A must-read for anyone interested in the Civil War, its continuing impact on America today, and the powerful bonding of men in war. Mann is a modern master of gay literature.

This was a delight to read.  Mr. Mann varied his prose style throughout, which made for good reading.  The vividness of the imagery Mr. Mann conjured with few words left a lasting impression.  Whether it was the description of a grave, a death, battlefield horrors, or a life long past, all came to life with his beautiful poetry.  It is hard to pick just a few favorite passages; I read a re-read several that became favorites, forever burning the wonderful choreography of words into my memory.

A breathtaking, stunning series of interrelated poems juxtaposing the haunting re-imaginings of a Southern descendant of Civil War fighters as he and his husband travel the Civil War tourist spots and graveyards of the South. The free verse poetry is alive and fresh with nearly shattering revelations that build to a showdown between the heroic history of the heart and soulless participation in the mundane. A sensitive but unsentimental triumph of empathy over enmity, this book is like reading a modern Longfellow: Brilliant.

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Tags: rainbow awards 2015

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