Bryan R. Monte is a writer, lecturer, and anthropologist from Ohio, living in the Netherlands. In his powerful collection of poems, he explores the grief and anger surrounding his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis (MS) and its treatment, and the struggles of being a gay man and losing many friends to AIDS.

On the Level contains five sections that mirror the trajectory of his journey from “First Signs” to “Homecoming.” His poems appear in various forms, from letters to lists, as varied as the ways that the world fails him. The opening “The ABCs of Multiple Sclerosis” (13) introduces us to the pain and indignities of the condition. Like a 1950s mother taking her child by the chin to keep their attention, he does not allow us to look away. “The Familiar Stranger” (20) foreshadows his genetic future as he recalls visits to his grandmother, his bleak path presaged as she...

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