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Breakfast with Thom Gunn
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Breakfast with Thom Gunn

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  70 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews


Those who lack a talent for love have come

to walk the long Pier 7. Here at the end

of the imagined world are three low-flying gulls


like lies on the surface; the slow red

of a pilot’s boat; the groan

of a fisherman hacking a small shark—


and our speech like the icy water, a poor

translation that will not carry us across.

What brought us west, anyway? A hung

Paperback, 65 pages
Published April 1st 2009 by University of Chicago Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Jee Koh
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was ok
I was curious to read this book of poems, a 2009 Lambda finalist. Thom Gunn is in the title. I have run into Randall Mann's name on the Internet many times but had not read his poetry. I like to know what other gay poets are writing, especially writers near my age (Mann was born in 1972). My exact contemporaries lived lives different from mine, but could have been mine. In Mann's case, I don't know when he moved from Florida to San Francisco, but he moved from a world to a world, like I did. Unl ...more
Brent Calderwood
Aug 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
(written for

Randall Mann, whose debut collection Complaint in the Garden earned raves and was winner of the Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry, has returned with Breakfast with Thom Gunn, a recent Lammy finalist.

Mann, like the iconic poet he references in his title piece, impresses with his subtle yet confident use of formal structures like sonnets, sestinas, and pantoums. Also like the late Thom Gunn, Mann brings gravitas and pathos to the sometimes mundane-seeming aspects gay li
Mar 16, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This superb second collection of poems by Ralph Mann's son itches for representational magic that can test the craft intelligence brought to bear on an occasionally very slight scene. Randall Mann, San Franciscan, habitue of the city's sexual demimonde, is highly curious about how one rises within a subculture that relies on triviality, projection, and self-flattery. "The Mortician of San Francisco" is a sestina narrated from the persona of the man who prepared Dan White for his 1985 burial. It ...more
May 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Brutal. Beautiful.

Enjoy the masquerade here because it deftly hides and reveals and reveals its hiding and hides its revealing and such play usually gets my hackles up, but he succeeds where others annoy. In an interview, Mann said that poetry both "distills" and "embellishes." This collection retains that edge. Check out the full interview here:
Aug 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
I just reopened the book to this stanza and laughed:

Another Saturday, and the straights
and amateurs will come to my ghetto tonight.
Suspension of rights for all, I say.

That's funny. A lot of the poems in this book are really funny, if a bit macabre at the same time. Also, this book has the best cover of all time.
Mar 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful follow-up to Complaint in the Garden. I am swept away by Mann's deft phrasings and lilting melodies. Form is handled so skillfully.
Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, just beautiful. Don't be afraid of poetry people. This is equally accessible and evocative.
Sep 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Ideally, using traditional forms forces a contemporary poet to innovate, and not resort to grade school line endings. External rhymes and fixed meters are extremely difficult constraints because they can easily expose one's lack of musicality and dexterity. Mann should probably just stick to free verse.
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Randall Mann is the author of PROPRIETARY (Persea Books, 2017); STRAIGHT RAZOR (Persea Books, 2013), a Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection and finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; BREAKFAST WITH THOM GUNN (Chicago, 2009); and COMPLAINT IN THE GARDEN (Zoo/Orchises, 2004), winner of the 2003 Kenyon Review Prize. Winner of the 2013 J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from Poetry magazine. Poems an ...more
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