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Award Winning Poet Changed Course After 9/11 Attacks

The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 affected Americans in many different ways. For poet John Mann, it completely changed the focus of his writing.

“My previous work, I basically wrote nature poems. They were fine. I like them. But looking back on that pre-9/11 work, it strikes me as fairly conventional,” Mann said.

“These new poems had a greater intensity for me and were more firmly engaged with history and the political process and the things we were going through.”

He was surprised to find his writing taking such a drastic change in direction, and he was surprised by how quickly the poems poured out of him.

Mann spent around 10 years reflecting on the attacks and the wars that followed. The resulting work can be found in his first book, Able, Baker, Charlie (National Poetry Review Press), which won the 2011 National Poetry Review Book Prize.


The full interview with John Mann

Mann taught for many years in the Department of English and Journalism at Western Illinois University, and will return to the Macomb campus to read some of his works. The event begins at 7:00 pm, Wednesday, March 6, in the auditorium on the third floor of Sherman Hall. Admission is free.

Copies of Able, Baker, Charlie will be available for purchase and Mann will sign copies of the book.

Mann said he writes every day, and he posts a new poem to his every Sunday.

"I think most writers just do what they do out of some inner necessity or joy that they don't really understand very well," says Mann.

Mann said “mortality seems to be rearing its head lately” in his writing.

“The dream of every poet is that you might write something that will outlive you and be read after you’re gone, and achieve some sort of immortality in words. Maybe that’s what I’m thinking about lately.”

Rich is TSPR's News Director.