The craft, man.
It continues to amaze me – though it shouldn’t – that the people I talk to who are working at high levels always want to talk about craft. Acting, songwriting, drumming, poetry. Getting there, wherever you describe "there" to be, comes down to doing the work.
So it is with Chris Banks.
Chris is a poet. You may have a romantic notion of what that means, but the reality for a poet is the same as it is for any other artist: butt in chair, grinding it out. Chris has learned that lesson as well as anyone, and I’m particularly inspired by the fact that when his life hit a kind of rock bottom a few years ago, his response was to dig deeper into poetry. Dig deeper into the craft. Commit himself even more to the gift he has nurtured and developed over more than 20 years of writing. That commitment produced a breakthrough in his writing that can be felt in his forthcoming collection Midlife Action Figure.
Chris is a friend of mine, but I have always loved his poems on their own merit. His work is lyrical, poignant, melancholy, nostalgic, clever, and at times very funny. As he says in this episode, his new collection is far more whimsical and experimental than his previous work. It’s part of an evolution in subject and voice that happens, as he says, when you run out of childhood. He was kind enough to give us a sneak preview of the collection with a couple of readings during our conversation.
We didn’t talk about it in the interview, but I owe Chris a great debt not just for his inspiration as a writer, but for introducing me 20 years ago to two bands: Face to Face and Archers of Loaf (check the Easter egg at the end of the episode). Both of those bands have become among my favourites since we saw them at Call The Office and The Embassy respectively in London way back when. At the time, Chris and I were student teachers working at the same high school. It’s interesting how fate puts people in the same blender sometimes. If he had been given a different school, we might not even know each other.
There’s probably a poem in that.
Fun fact: I’ve started dabbling in poetry a bit since we recorded this conversation, not because I think I’m a poet, but because the exercise is for me a no-pressure way to start putting words on paper again. To begin doing the work and finding out whether there’s really anything left of that fragile literary dream inside me (I can see him rolling his eyes at that statement already).
Anyway, I hope you enjoy and are inspired by this episode. No matter what the dream is, you have to love your process for its own sake and not get hung up on the results. Do the work. Do the work. Do the work.
And buy Chris’s new collection when it comes out. Check your local Amazon ….
Follow Chris at https://chrisbankspoetry.com.
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