Song of the Mountains, was conceived when John was awarded the Jean Richie Fellowship in Appalachian literature in 2017.
Song of the Mountains is a poetic celebration, eulogy, metaphor for Appalachia. Sometimes it dances and laughs, but too many times it cries. It’s a vehicle to give voice to creation, a prayer, psalm or hymn of nature. It’s an echo of the past merging with the present. The mountains speak in these songs, the culture of Appalachia—food, family, religion & spirituality, a place of dreams, politics, ecology, and mining, but a place of loss, too, both of its people and their land—the desecration of that land, which is like cursing God. Place is as sacred as family. Depression, a byproduct, runs deep, as a vein of ore in a coal mine. Yet the heart is sometimes blacker than coal searching for the silver and gold threading it like false promises do. Sometimes there are no clear differences. For all the good and evil in our hearts, we love as deeply as we mourn, and that music of the mountains is a salve, as well as a song.
The Mountain South is a diverse, multi-vocal, and culturally dynamic region, as rich and hard to define as America itself. Appalachia sings many songs, and John C. Mannone has brought a gifted ear and a patient, observant attention to recording and sharing that music with us— it is both ancient and brand-new, with sounds at once familiar and strange. In such poems as "Subterranean Poetics" and "Slickrock Wilderness" and "The Making of Steel" we encounter a scientist-poet with a deep knowledge of the workings of nature and how our lives exist alongside beautiful processes we rarely encounter. Mannone's poems remind us to love the seen and the unseen and to listen closely for the singular resonances that create the Song of the Mountains.
—Jesse Graves, author of Merciful Days and Said-Songs: Essays on Poetry and Place
With Song of the Mountains, John Mannone gives us a garden that rivals Eden. There is so much heart in these poems, not only in their depiction of Appalachia in its infinite natural beauty, but also after its metaphorical fall from grace where humans have replaced the native flora and fauna with sludge slides and overburden. We are messy animals, too often destroying our environment and our personal relationships. And yet, Mannone shows that there can be joy and grace, even after terrific acts of devastation. That is the troubled duality of a peopled landscape. We lament the devastation that we cause, but we root for ourselves to be better—better stewards of the land, and better caretakers of the ones we love.
—Denton Loving, author of Tamp
John C. Mannone has poems appearing in Windhover, North Dakota Quarterly, Poetry South, and others. He won the Impressions of Appalachia Creative Arts Contest in poetry (2020), was awarded a Jean Ritchie Fellowship (2017) in Appalachian literature, and served as the celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). His forthcoming collections are Flux Lines: The Intersection of Science, Love, and Poetry (Linnet’s Wings Press, 2021), Sacred Flute (Iris Press, 2022), and an e-Chapbook, The Metaphorical Moon through a Poetry Super Highway project (2021). He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex and three other journals. A retired physics professor, John lives in Knoxville, Tennessee
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