Poet inspired by Williamsport and life’s moments

PHOTO PROVIDED Poet Michael McManus, of Harrisburg and formerly Williamsport, wrote free verse about love, loss, death and the moments of everyday life in “The Buddha Knot.”

The free-verse poetry found in “The Buddha Knot,” written by Michael McManus, of Harrisburg, and formerly of Williamsport, touches on “love, loss, death (ecstasies and agonies)” of everyday life and moments, McManus said.

“The Buddha Knot,” is “about the life I’ve lived and the life I’ve observed, sometimes with great embellishment and sometimes with little or none at all,” McManus said.

The title was inspired by the time McManus spent with a Zen Master while he was in Yokosuka, Japan, he said. The poems in “The Buddha Knot” flow together, working with one another, but also stand on their own.

His poems “sometimes flow as water does from a ruptured dam, or in a creek during a prolonged summer drought. There is an inherent beauty in both the smaller scales and in the larger scales. No raindrop ever falls in the wrong place,” he said. “They can and sometimes they must stand individually when needed.”

Although “my inspiration is not definitive,” McManus said. He has been inspired by drinking with a Vietnam Vet in San Diego, Buddhism and quantum physics, among other influences such as Todd Davis, a Penn State Altoona teacher, Mark Doty and Bruce Springsteen.

McManus also is influenced by Williamsport, he said. Growing up McManus moved to Williamsport from Altoona. He moved back to Altoona in third grade and returned to Williamsport around ’77 and ’78 and lived with his father, graduating as a Williamsport Millionaire.

When living in Williamsport, McManus’s father lived in Perryville. He had a small cabin near Hoaglands Run near Bobst Mountain, he said. His father now lives in South Williamsport.

“Altoona was blue collar and city basketball courts. But living with my father freed me to explore what was truly wild. To trout fish all day, to swim in Lycoming Creek, it was a formative period in my life and in many ways, much of my poetry still calls to mind those wild hours,” McManus said.

Poetry is not something McManus has always done, though, but was something he always wanted to pursue, he said. His grandmother, former president of the poetry club at Buffalo’s School of Nursing, would read Shakespeare’s sonnets to him.

He started writing and pursuing poetry in his mid-thirties, which is when McManus was first published, he said. According to McManus, poets don’t write for the financial aspect but that those that believe in their work want it to be heard.

McManus has been featured in more than 100 journals, some being the Chicago Quarterly Review, The American Journal of Poetry and Xavier Review, he said. He’s also had short stories published in over 25 journals. His short stories also touch on similar themes found in McManus’s poetry such as “love, dying, death and religion.”

The poet was a part of the Louisiana Artist Fellowship Program in the Division of the Arts, providing McManus with money, time and resources to develop his ideas, he said.

Prior to “The Buddha Knot’s” publication, he would read poetry at the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, Harrisburg, is hoping to be a featured reader in the future and is looking to do more poetry reading throughout Pennsylvania, McManus said.

“The Buddha Knot” is available online at Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Ottos Bookstore.