Micheal Mann, the Sunshine Coast's latest published author, is unique in many ways. He's a bright, articulate man who uses words to convey feelings and experiences most of us will never come close to duplicating.
At his book launch this Sunday, Jan. 20, 2 p.m. at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre in Sechelt, Mann will be reading from his book, I Am a Man Who Cries.
The book opens with a brutally honest essay, F.A.S.D. & Me. The FASD is an acronym for one of the most difficult "invisible disabilities" there is for society to understand. Fetal alcohol spectrum disorder covers myriad behaviours all attributable to alcohol being used when the person was a developing fetus.
Mann opens his book explaining to the reader what it's like to be him in a way that's at once educational and achingly sad. We get a glimpse of the little boy shunned for his differences from other children. The reader also gets some idea of the impact of the myriad illnesses Mann has along with FASD.
But this book is much, much more than that. In it Mann's talent shines through in his judicious use of words and his many writing genres.
His second piece in the book, The One-Day Thesis, has appeared in Coast Reporter before. Gut wrenching, the poem came about on a day Mann was struggling with feelings of rage and incompetence. After one call to the armed forces office in Vancouver where he vented about government sending young people to their deaths, Mann next connected with a Vancouver policeman.
The officer, Mann said, was most compassionate. He advised the author to write down his feelings in point form. And if for any reason he didn't feel better after that, to call back. Mann rues not having the man's name, for the suggestion did help him to manifest his frustrations.
"I've written [this book] to open doors for me, open people's minds, open people's hearts. I hope they see not only me, but a bit of themselves. I hope that they will use their talent, be it writing, drawing, rapping. [I want them to think] wow, if this person could write a book, imagine what I could do," Mann said.
His writing deals with universal themes: love, guilt, anger and bullying.
One of his poems, Here I Lie, begins Here I lie / In a bed full of questions / On a pillow of wonder / Covered by a quilt of "what ifs?"
Another, Without Music, covers music, words and control. It's hard to imagine anyone writing a more poignant piece. His words can pierce the toughest armour.
Mann also wrote a stunning eulogy to his friend Kevin Norman, who died much too young. He lays bare his soul in this tribute to the "always smiling" Norman.
Some Coasters may know Mann by the surname Oswald. He's just started using the name of his biologic father who passed away recently.
For the future, Mann has a children's fantasy book he's written, Blue Ribbon, that he hopes to publish next. His publisher, Jane Covernton, sees Mann's talent as rare.
"I've published six books; this is the first that's not mine. I expect it to do well," Covernton said.
No one who reads this book will be surprised at that assessment.
The book will be available for sale at the launch, or you can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org to purchase a copy. This book will stay with you long after you finish it.
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