More About 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.
Some of my interests and involvements that may come out in my poetry include birdwatching, hill-walking and long-distance 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.
I used to think if something powerful happened to me, or I visited a place that meant a lot to me, a poem ought to happen. They weren't good poems. It took about two years for a night on Cader Idris to bring out "Spirit Mountain" and six months after visiting Auschwitz before I wanted to write about it. So maybe the Ecuadorian Amazon (visited last November) is working away down there somewhere...
Visit Simon's blog: - https://simonsworlds13.wordpress.com/
SPIRIT MOUNTAIN by Simon Banks, illustrated by Angella Horner FRSA
“Said to be haunted”
“Source of strength and madness”
Alone on the night mountain
I wait, curious.
Screeches and groans
Tear the night, only I
Know they’re ravens
Harbour lights, town lights, wandering
Headlights shine and
Are gloved into mist
Pale flame of sunrise
Ghosts? Then within us
But a trickle of
Welsh blood speaking:
Perhaps in the soil
Out of time, sleeping.