Chris Banks

Chris Banks slips, with great ease, between past and present, between what is lost and what is found in this collection. His poems are elegantly layered pieces of image and metaphor that sweep the reader into the centre of each poem.

In looking to the remembered and nostalgic past, the poet also looks to our future. In "Divination," he cautions us to "be patient" when waiting for signs. The signs, when they do appear, seem to weave themselves into landscape with the power of poetry. "Moonlight's white / book falls open across the lawn. / Words shine wetly in the grasses. / This is the poem written there." Make no mistake; here is a poet who lives and writes in (and through) landscape-a landscape that can at times be external and natural, but that is also rooted in the passage of time, personal memory, and remembrance.

Northern images abound. In "Now, Then, Always," Banks evokes the timeless image of a young boy "swimming a cold, dark lake in northern Ontario." The boy reappears in the poem "Northern Ontario": "I remember little except for that boy's shape out on those lakes, / which is the real trick of forgetting: when caught in between / what was, and what is, you go unrecognized even to yourself."

What pulls at the heart is the bittersweet tang of how memories can shift. Banks plays with the notion of time and memory, so that one ends up thinking of one's own past. In "Cathedral," he reminds us that "the past is gone and twenty years have grown / like a slow-moving glacier over its passing."

Reviewer: Kim Fahner