Randall Mann’s poems are often set within the landscape of Florida or California. Influenced by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Justice, Mann’s poetry—at once vulnerable, unflinching, and brave in its ambivalence—explores themes of loss, attraction, brutality, and expectation. Of his preference for working in form, Mann says, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”
Mann is the author of Complaint in the Garden (2004), which won the Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry; Breakfast with Thom Gunn (2009), finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the California Book Award; Straight Razor (2013), also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; and Proprietary (2017). He is co-author of the textbook Writing Poems (2007). Mann received the 2013 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from Poetry. David Baker, poetry editor and judge for the Kenyon Review Prize, wrote that Mann “re-creates the landscape and flora of the Caribbean and Florida with great precision, its saw palmettos and egrets, its ‘feathery-leafed locusts’ and ‘punctual monsoons.’ He follows, in other words, a long line of observers from Donald Justice back through William Bartram to Ponce de León and Cabeza de Vaca.”
In response to critics who have regarded the open portrayals of homosexuality in his work as radical, Mann responds, “If tenderness between two men is radical—and I suppose it is—then the shameful world needs a new radicalism.” He lives in San Francisco.