Simon Banks

I write poetry and am near the end of writing a fantasy novel. I’m English (with a bit of Welsh), live in Essex on the East coast of England, and have another blog for humour, social comment and discussing controversial issues, on blogspot: http://sibathehat.blogspot.com.

Some of my interests and involvements that may come out in my poetry include birdwatching, hill-walking and long-distrance trail walking (see how many of my poems use travelling across hill country or long views of scenery to convey something else), politics, religion, science fiction, myth and evolution.

Like many people, I wrote poetry from my late teens to my mid twenties and then stopped. I started again about eight years ago in a way which fulfils an ancient Welsh legend. The mountain of Cader Idris (Cadair Idriss) in north-west Wales is associated with much myth and legend, of being holy and haunted, and specifically that if you spent a night there, next day you would either be mad or a poet (bard). I’d long wanted to spend a night on a mountain. Cader Idris isn’t too high, is a serious but not difficult climb for a walker and scrambler, and has a small stone hut on top. I spent the night there. There was a beautiful sunset, then fog, then a beautiful sunrise. Nothing weird happened but it was deeply moving (and cold). The experience made a big impression on me. A year or two later there was a competition at work to write a supernatural-themed poem for Halloween. I wrote a poem about my night on Cader Idris and won (it’s the first poem in this collection). I then went on to write other poems. So the legend was fulfilled in an unexpected and rational way!

Some points about poetry. To me it’s an art of the spoken word, so the sound of the words is hugely important and should contribute to the meaning. I write both formally-structured and apparently unstructured verse, but I would argue that there should be no such thing as free verse: what appears to be free verse either has a web of connections of similar sounds that doesn’t follow a formula but is real nonetheless, or it isn’t poetry and isn’t verse.

I find that if I try to plan to write a poem on a given subject, it’s rubbish. Ideas swim around in my mind and sometimes in the right conditions they come together for a poem. Oh, and although I’ve been published in various magazines, I’m not happy claiming to be a poet or an artist. Those words to me speak of self-indulgence and claiming to be special and excepted from rules of behaviour you expect other people to follow. I write poetry. I hope it connects worlds, feelings and myths.

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32 Comments

  1. Please comment with your own experience of, or views on, or questions about poetry!

    Reply
  2. Hey Simon,
    thnx for reading my Snack Poetry….btw kindly share ur email…but the fact is I’ve read ur blog even before knowing you, esp. ur poems….actually I’m looking at a career in Anthropology in the future….hope u would’ve understood which poem I’m talking about 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, Shriram. Yes, I really loved the image of the coins, preserved so well, their message still so clear but their value and function so different. It also meets my interests in archaology, history and politics.

      A friend who did Anthropology at university also liked The Anthropologist – maybe also because it fitted her politics too. Don’t get swallowed entire!

      Simon

      Reply
  3. very true….even my interest in Archaeology pushed me to write this piece….we seem to find interest in things that reflect our inner tastes and preferences…so very humane 🙂

    Reply
  4. Best to write about, or through, things that interest you! I’m fascinated by (and studied) the English Civil War and Commonwealth period (1640s and 50s): hence the poem “Marston Moor”. Interestingly, I find some analogies with the radical political and religious ideas of the period and what was happening in Northern India at the same time with the Sikhs.

    The long poem I’ve just posted, Six Strands, reflects my interest in history, archaeology and particularly rural landscape, but I don’t think you could say it’s about these things: they’re a language.

    I’ll look forward to reading more of your poetry.

    Reply
  5. You’ve been nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award……thank you for blogging Simon…and hope you accept.
    http://neelthemuse.wordpress.com/2011/12/01/versatile-blogger-award/

    Reply
  6. That’s okay Simon…..I had to nominate you as your poems speak for themselves! You can take all the time you need:)

    Reply
  7. Caddo Veil

     /  December 5, 2011

    Forgive me for popping in, unannounced–I got a bit confused re the Simon13, Simon7–but they’re both You, correct? I wanted to thank you for stopping by for the haiku–yes, “sad” is a big part of it, isn’t it; but the poet’s job is to make it beautiful too. Also wanted to tell you I managed to get the spelling fixed on your blog name (in my blogroll), so that when I and others click on it, we’ll zoom right to you and not get lost anymore! I’m just about useless at the technology aspect of this world–would almost prefer to “create”, and have someone else post it & manage blog details–but I’m too much the control freak.

    Wishing you God’s blessing for an excellent day!

    Reply
  8. Caddo Veil

     /  December 5, 2011

    Oh, and Simon–(I just read the above comment where you accepted the award–just “right click” on the logo and save it to your picture file or desktop; then you can upload it like you would any photo/whatever, into your “acceptance post”. You’ll do Fine!!!!

    Reply
  9. Thanks for both these, Caddo. I’m actually still a bit undecided about the Versatile Blogger thing – not only finding 15 blogs to recommend, but what’s it for, who runs it, how is the award judged? I’d normally want to know these things. Anyway, if I do go ahead, I’ll nominate you!

    Simon7 is my wordpress identity and simonsworlds13 the blog name. I find some of the technical things confusing, but it’s a matter of practice and advice. I became an ace Powerpoint presenter in my last job from never having used it.

    Reply
  10. Simon, Thank-you for stopping by my blog and I look forward to having poetry conversations with you. Nice to read more about you here.
    christyb

    Reply
  11. Thanks for following my blog Simon.

    Reply
    • Pleasure, Tony. If anyone mentions the word “poetry” on a blog or whatever (I think you commented on ChristyB’s blog), I look at what they’re writing. If I like it, I follow it!

      Reply
  12. ladybluerose

     /  February 16, 2012

    Thank you for stopping by and reading my thoughts

    I enjoyed this piece her about you,
    I wandered within to see how i see you through your
    own words..I liked what I saw!…
    you make me put on my to-do list now to spend the night
    on the mountain…I usually set the intention and by the Grace of Goddess I arrive LOLs…
    Thank you…I most enjoy when a person takes me somewhere i have never been..
    Take Care…
    )0(
    ladybluerose

    Reply
    • Thanks, ladybluerose. I’ll be looking more at your site and I’m sure we can learn from one another. I’m pressed for time right now but I’ll come back to this in a week or so more deeply.

      Reply
  13. Thanks for reading my poetry and taking the time to share your own perceptive on almost everything I post. It may not show in the comments but I appreciate it more than you will ever know.
    You are such a prolific writer. When I read the things you’ve written I realize how much there is to be explored and learned. You’ve taken me to places I’ve never seen through your poetry. Thank you for that.
    🙂

    I look forward to many more poetic (or poetically incorrect) conversations with you.

    Hope you have a good day. Carpe Diem

    Reply
    • Many thanks. Your blog is very thought-provoking and one reason why I comment so often is that so often, I’m very interested in the subject and what you or your chosen quote has said.

      I don’t know that I’m especially prolific as a writer. I’m posting stuff I’ve written over several years. At present I’m going through a spell of not writing poetry, though I am pressing on with a darkly humorous fantasy novel. The poetry will come again. For me, there’s no point trying to force it, though some things (travel, music, the countryside, the sea) can help it come.

      Some people are not attuned to poetry at all. My best friend is like that (but his wife isn’t, which ought to be awkward!). Some people are attuned to some poetry only. I’m very pleased you’re attuned to mine.

      I love the pun in “poetically incorrect”. Carpe Diem, by the way, means “a carp a day”. It’s what the monks in Europe used to say: they had carp in their fishponds to eat. Please disregard the previous 28 words written under the influence of humour.

      Reply
  14. Hi, I saw you had dropped by my blog so I though I would do the same and I like it ! be well and happy! 🙂

    Reply
    • Thanks, willowdot. When I looked at the blog it didn’t ring a bell and it would have done if I’d gone to the home page, so I suspect someone reblogged one of your posts. I’m now following your blog.

      I holidayed in Jugoslavia before it broke up and visited Sarajevo. When the war happened I joined a UK-based group raising money for humanitarian aid mainly to Sarajevo. I know a guy (Bosnian Muslim married to a Bosnian Croat) who was in that concentration camp and is now in the UK.

      Reply
  15. I thank you for the visit on my page
    Have a wonderful day.

    Blessings,
    mei

    Reply
  16. Simon, I’m now posting here too: http://bit.ly/1cngCty in case you’re interested. Just thought I’d let you know.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Obscure one.

      Reply
      • Thanks, whitebuffalo.

        The simple answer to your question is “No”. If you say you’re a carpenter, people don’t think you’re claiming to be anything special outside your skill shaping wood.

        I suspect your response comes from you having no arrogance in your work. But I do find some artists claiming that their work shouldn’t be criticised for being, say, racist or personally vindictive “because it’s art” and I want to get away from the exceptionalism that often goes with words like “poet” and “artist”. These words turn attention to the individual who produced the work rather than the work.

        I’m not for a moment criticising people like many of my internet friends who happily call themselves “poets” or whatever, but for me the word comes with baggage; the word “artist” comes with more baggage; and I prefer to say I write poetry. This is also avoiding a potential misunderstanding, as I’m not one of the small band who live by their poetry as a carpenter would live by his or her carpentry. And that’s a side issue but an interesting one, as someone who worked in an office and carved wood in his or her spare time probably wouldn’t say “I’m a carpenter”.

  17. “I’m not happy claiming to be a poet or an artist. Those words to me speak of self-indulgence and claiming to be special and excepted from rules of behaviour you expect other people to follow. ”

    And when people call themselves carpenters, nurses, plumbers, doctors and teachers are they also being self indulgent and claiming to be special and excepted from rules…. by stating what they ‘are’?
    If one is a poet or an artist then that is what one is just as an electrician is an electrician.
    We are what we are as far as I can tell. Are you something ‘else’ pretending to be an artist or poet?

    Hello. This statement caught my attention and I wondered about the thinking behind it. That’s why I’m making this comment.

    Came here from willowdot21 🙂 Liked your poem very much.

    Reply
    • Thank you for the favor of your reply, Simon.
      Now I think I understand your meaning, at least I hope I do.
      Agreed regarding the ‘baggage’ attacthed to both ‘poet’ and ‘artist’. I find said baggage distrubing and inaccurate as each can indeed becomea cover for all sorts of questionable behavior. I have indeed observed this far beyond blogland in the concrete jungle. So I can’t disagree with that point.
      Agreed there is the issue of making a living by one’s skill–it is tough raising the rent via poetry alone. Pratical matters often demand diversification.
      I appreciate your thoughtful response. Merci.

      Reply
  18. Thanks for following The Immortal Jukebox Simon I hope you have found some entertaining music and writing and perhaps made some discoveries. If its been a while since you last visited come on over! Good luck with your Intriguing blog. Regards Thom

    Reply
  19. Hi, Thom. Thanks. I don’t recall getting updates on your blog, though I’m listed as following. Thanks for the reminder. I’m not much into some of the music you feature, though I do like good Country & Western (there’s no lack of bad Country & Western). I think I just liked your style, the kind of comments you make.

    Anyway, good to hear from you. I’ve been less active with the blog for a while because of other things, but will up the tempo. All the best.

    Simon

    Reply

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