about this contributor:


CHRIS MANSEL

I would like to think that something in my life has been of value. I would like to think that there has been at least a moment or two that I could recall when I changed from who I am into what I have become or can be. I was born in 1968 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Seven weeks later my family moved and it seems I have been moving ever since. A total of fifty-five times I have packed everything I own and moved on to better fields or lesser avenues. Change, I always looked forward to the change hoping it would bring something better, something more interesting. I never had many friends so I used to read and write poetry. I always thought that if I could write my own books then I could create my own reality. I'm not sure if I ever did. I wrote my first poem at the age of eight. It was of a dream I had. I woke up and wrote it down immediately. In the dream I watched myself, kill myself. In many ways I have been living that dream ever since. I've always looked to the past and tried to overlook the shortcomings of others and tried to hold onto something good in them, a lesson learned. From my grandfather I took many lessons, including that I should work hard and always try to be good to others even if that was not what they wanted or deserved. He also told me that even if I knew something sometimes it was not right to tell it. Let the other person win the argument he would say to me, and this way you will gain more from the experience. It's good to tell the stories of your family. It's good to write it down, write everything down that you know. You don't have to tell it to anyone, just so you'll know. I was educated basically in the books I managed to read and keep during the many moves my family made. In high school I was reading far beyond my grade level but suffered what I now know as ADD. It wasn't hat I was insecure when it came to interacting with others I was just far too old for my age and thus I suffered for it. I married in 1995 to my wife Gail who is an artist and writer. This was the smartest thing I have ever done. My wife told me just after we were married to write whatever was in my heart. She told me to write whatever I wanted to and that it would be okay. I have since tried to be true to the creative blood and always hope that it will coarse through my veins and eventually show me where I need to go. We have a daughter who shares our love of nature and reading. She too is much older than her age. I'm trying to teach her that it's okay. In my writing I have had many instances to be thankful. I met Jon Berry while in college and through Jon met his brother Jake Berry. Jon is a tremendous poet and teacher, and friend. Jon is one of the forces that spring me forth in my belief. He's extraordinary. Jake Berry like his brother Jon is like a brother to me. Jake is an incredible poet, musician, and friend. Through Jake I have met Jack Foley and Hank Lazer. Two mentors, two poets, two teachers, and two of the most loving artists you could ever hope to meet or know. They both have aided me in my education of life and poetry. Recently I have befriended August Highland. August, who I consider a great friend and collaborator, is truly a visionary. I live in Florence, Alabama. I suffer from Epilepsy. I disappear into the back roads and country every chance I get. My one friend I have managed to stay close to my entire thirty-four years on this earth Charlie Gann has to get the most credit for me being here. Charlie listened to me, kept me from trouble, and has been the best friend and brother I will ever, ever have.

m.a.g.