The Book of Manke: An original collection of poems
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The Book of Manke is a collection of original poetry that consists of narratively interlocking poems about a middle-aged man, a dentist named Les Manke. When a series of losses brings up the pain of an unhealed trauma—the death of his wife and infant daughter a decade earlier—Manke tries to run away from his life. Once in the “wilderness” of a state park, Manke unwittingly begins a spiritual quest on which he faces the question of evil and the nature of suffering. Why do bad things always seem to happen to him? Is there an underlying force guiding his life, or is it only chance and choice that have brought him to this point? The poems in this collection are written in three modes—third person narrative poems, dramatic lyrics, and dream poems written in alliterative verse. This three-mode structure allows for the ironic juxtaposition of points of view. During his quest, Manke meets various characters who each have their own views on life, suffering, and God. These characters speak in dramatic lyrics and monologues, each lyric or monologue presenting a distinct temperament, point of view, diction, and poetic form. Tonally, the dissertation ranges from serious spiritual inquiry, to dark humor, to campy slapstick. Thematically, the collection employs allegory to undercut its own tradition: by exposing the genre’s limitations, it comments on the way any metaphysical understanding of God ultimately resists logical delineation.