Disabled Monsters by John C. Mannone
Reviews: In the world of poetry, there are those who paint intricate pictures with simple words—and those who hone their craft, serving a greater purpose with their pen. In Disabled Monsters, John C. Mannone does both, creating bold displays of imagery while depicting how the human race deals with physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral disabilities.
The opening poem in the book, entitled "Empty Shells", starts off with a quote from John Donne. The quote reads, "All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book but translated unto a better language."
From there, Mannone opens the floodgates of imagery for the reader
The tree sways
its arms, crossing them, fingers
moving in the weave of its hands,
as if to sign. You can read
the quaking of leaves telling us
the quiet truth—we are not
the children of a lesser God.
—Erin M. Kelly, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature.
Intense with emotional mystery. Mannone reveals a world of war, lost love, catastrophic illness, depression and regret—so many of the sorrows humans inherit during life. Yet, in the evolution of these poems, Mannone’s honesty, his power of story, individual persona’s love and kindness, and above all, the courage to seek a prayerful life, helps to disable these monsters. Every sun-filled dawn/I will steal its colors/and celebrate until/my throat is crimsoned/with joy, Mannone writes in “Lilies & Morning Matins.” In “Light Blooms” this thought is echoed: No longer am I a child/of the dark. I have grown/into light and I now can see,/count each glimmer, touch each hope…I am not alone anymore. Readers of Disabled Monsters will celebrate a life’s renascence at the end of these poems.
—Bill Brown is the author of nine poetry collections, including "Elemental" (Taos Press, November 2014). He is a former Breadloaf scholar and distinguished professor at Vanderbilt University.
Reviewed at Wordgathering by Erin Kelly