Banks’s stunning new collection, exploring bold frontiers
“Poetry is an act of mischief,” Theodore Roethke famously once said, and Chris Banks takes this as his credo in Midlife Action Figure. His subject matter ranges from the familiar to the surreal, taking readers through poems that are both wondrous and strange, heartfelt and humorous, controlled and impatient. Whether calling a tree “an anthology of leaves” or describing time as “a Fisher-Price View-Master of ‘first kisses’ and ‘no return’ policies,” Banks approaches writing as if anything might make for alarming, strange, and dizzying verse.
Banks knits together wit with wildly inventive imagery as he follows his poems outside convention where they play with stolen matches. Capable of both deep introspection and the quick turn of phrase, he places his tongue firmly in his cheek as he looks for a measure of human wonder in this intermission between TED Talks and the apocalypse. Midlife Action Figure is a tour de force for anyone looking for that rare book that is as exciting as it is provocative, showcasing both pathos and humor, while it explores what it means to be alive in the early 21st century.
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x (d)|
About the Author
Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of four previous collections of poems, most recently The Cloud Versus Grand Unification Theory (ECW Press 2017). His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, and Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes in Waterloo, Ontario.
Read an Excerpt
Some people treat each day like IKEA instructions.
Others look for a higher dimension in church pews.
Hot yoga studios. Time is an atlas. A Fischer-Price
View-Master of first kisses and “no return” policies.
I wish this was even more poetic. Throw in the phrase
In Media Res like a trial balloon. A benediction. A spark-plug.
Another celebrity has overdosed on alcohol and benzos.
Every story deserves a splashy two-page spread. Despite
Old Navy ads and tooth-paste for sensitive teeth, the heart is
a scourge. My spirit-animal is a scarecrow. The first-person
singular feels wrong here, but the hive-mind, all that buzzing,
overwhelms me. How many different ways to say Hallelujah?
I think we would all feel better if we were allowed to fall apart
one day out of the year. If only we could burn the briefcases.
I miss the sound of cicadas. Electric dusk. What do they care
about the end of post-modernism? Birth of narrow-casting?
Everyone has a few words they would like to bury forever.
I am losing landmarks as I get older, but thankfully we can
google it all. The little white house on a hill overlooking
the highway needs a new coat of paint but it is still there.
The uranium mine, the miners, are gone. If you feel yourself
going crazy, you probably are. Only a little. Young men
in black and white photographs, wearing soldier uniforms
or baseball attire, stare out stoically from the back wall
of dimly-lit bars and taverns. Today, wellness programs
preach resiliency like they are selling hamburgers. I keep
turning the pages of Time’s atlas. I trace its illustrations
with my fingers. The contoured lines. The last pages
blank, then something, new shapes, a lost continent,
new ports of call. A secret harbour, or a penal colony.
I mark a big X where the future will make landfall.