1. You have written in multiple forms – long poems, prose poetry, haiku, fiction, plays, and a book of family recipes to name a few can you discuss how you make your decisions about the genre? How do you conclude that a particular piece/idea will be best realized in a particular genre?
RAB: Truthfully, the poetry writes itself, the work has its own vision or Spirit, and if you tender it, it will reveal itself. Usually, this involves a sort of meditation or trance-like state, often curried in long periods of silence, days and days of being alone. At night, I brew up a hot chocolate cannabis drink, sit in front of the Think Machine and amalgamate the inspirations I have written down during the day, developing them. I always have a pen and paper at hand. An idea suggests itself as a genre, the basis of my short stories usually comes as dreams. The Beekeeper’s Daughters, Sunshine On Our Little Towne, and The Demaricon are written in poetic prose. The themes suggested novellas (because they were long poems), but the genre is not really demarcated consciously.
I was writing songs regularly between around 2000 to 2011, any poetry that wrote I would turn into lyrics and a song. I have been writing for about 40 years, and sometimes the work morphs into a new species of bird (Picasso has the Pink period, the Blue period, and Cubism). At first, I was writing Beat progression poetry in short lines, and occasionally a long poem, then I discovered Haiku, during a long winter in Montreal, some short beatific poems began to write, the series On Watching Snow Falling written over 3 years. The short Haikuesque poems were so evocative I began to add them to the headings of poems, that I call, Poetic Haibun.
I began to write hard note blues street short mange pieces that became the series The Grif and Other Conversations, actually really blistered lines, each one with its own theme. Each line could be enunciated by a different actor and/or people in the audience, Popcorn poetry as plays. above/ground press Chapbooks, a cornucopia of avant-garde styles, which influenced a block poetry format of poetic prose.
Also, influenced by James Joyce (Ulysses in particular), the words form a line and then they are irretrievably broken in a cut by an unexpected word, disturbing the flow of comprehension. My version of this produces different reads of the same poem, the Reader stumbles and reads and rereads, and the poetry flowers and takes on interest in new ways.
I have also written centos, inspired by T.S. Eliot, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, and Psalms 23, 24, 25, into the silence the work runs in your thoughts and begins to play as if music and the writing begins. Particularly, when writing about people, events, elegies, painting portraits in poetics the news about the person/their artistic offering plays upon your mind, “gets stuck in the drain” (Stephen King) calling you to write.
2. You have edited three anthologies – The Golden Oracle, The Children of Orpheus, and Somewhere My Love, how did you go about collating this anthology, and what was your basis for inclusion/exclusion of poems in this anthology?
RAB: The work of a Poetry Editor is to find work that resonates, is original, considered, uses language in new ways, sometimes invents new words, and is iconic. I look for influences of Surrealist, Symbolist, Imagist, Haiku (any form), Beat progressions, and The New Goth. Anything that is truly riveting is iconic, the poet as Muse, their own niche, their own beat. If it bangs in the dance, it’s in. The New Age poetry is a polyglot army, perhaps in response to the incredible flowering of the Internet, the ease of research, communication, the “automatic” audience, and a study in freedom poetics. There is usually free-range publication, any genre/form you write can usually find a home, each Poetry Editor has his own taste, appreciation of what is, and for a positive way to celebrate, heal the day, the craft of poetry writing is free for all people, all genres, a celebration. Also, the major genres in modern poetry, Beat, Confessional, Dada, Imagist have been consumed and now the New Generations (Generation X, Y . . .) are giving their spin on poetics. New genres of the avant-garde appearing when iconic, I call New Age poetics, they are progressions, also steampunk or The New Goth, ekphrastic poetry, Poetic Haibun, Erotic Haiku, erotica, humour, horror, Generation Y poetics, all are flowering as if a new day for peace.
3. You contributed a piece to Leonard Cohen’s tribute anthology. How has his work impacted yours?
RAB: In the 1960’s, as a child, Leonard Cohen was always the first to run on the playlist, I can still remember and recite parts of “Suzanne”. Later I picked up most of his recordings and would sit and listen and hum along, leading to the purchase of an Anthology of his work and I fell into the magic of the New Beat progression. I think he was the only major musician/songwriter I bought regularly. Reading and rereading the offering sticks with you, the thoughts work on levels. Something in your day, your life, news, the Muse triggers a song, a poem, you start to weave and whorl, and the poetry spins. I always think of him as the Muse of Montreal, the songs, the poetry in blue. I nearly ran into him at Indigo in Toronto, and then at my favourite Montreal Cafe.
4. Does your writing practice impact your emotional state in any way? Does it put you in a certain mood or an emotional state? Or helps you get away from a certain mood or an emotional state? Can you reflect on that?
RAB: Over the years, with the violence of a conflicted bed rite, I just naturally turned to journaling and writing as a mirror, a way to deal with depressed emotional content, as a relief. When really in gear it became like throwing up on the page, not really about the poetry, but about the release. I wrote off and on for the first 10 to 15 years and then very, very regularly as the poetry began to mould itself into what it was to become. As a ritual, the practice becomes a skill, and like any positive repetitive action, a prayer, a communiqué with the Holy Spirit. It is actually an intercession from the Holy Spirit, particularly when made public. As a true calling, it is a compulsion, I wrote and sang and wrote until I felt better. At the culmination of 40 years of art creation, songwriting, poetry writing, writing, fabric art, website creation, and over 50 major projects (CDs, poetry imprints, and lifeways books) I have reached a certain Nirvana. As in Existentialism, the light at the end of the darkness. There are other factors involved with this, one is service to the Arts Community through Subterranean Blue Poetry, making my art public, 25 years of celibacy, staying on the right side of the Spirit (not hurting innocents, prayer), 9 years of Deep Process Work, some light drug use, amongst others.
5. Are there any books that you keep visiting for inspiration?
RAB: Popular songs from the Golden Age of Rock n’ Roll and radio (Bob Dylan, David Bowie, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Don McLean . . .), sometimes movies, and the works of Sylvia Plath, T.S. Eliot, Truman Capote, William Shakespeare, the Bible, Virginia Woolf, Leonard Cohen . . . I get very bored, very quickly so usually will not reread books. However, Ariel, The Colossus, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath always strikes me with her brilliance, the girl writer, the Queen Bee in clauses of conflicted bed rite, playing with her own suicide in poetics. Also, Truman Capote’s poetic short stories, particularly Breakfast at Tiffany’s, have the ability to transcend and draw you in by the fireside. The Wasteland, absolutely, quintessentially, the story of the 20th century, written in 1921 after W.W.I, truncated, imagist thought forms, an original study in Dada, a reaction to great violence, the precursor to New Age poetics. William Shakespeare and the poetry/music/songs of Leonard Cohen, a spellbinding dance of lovers and poetics.
6. How do you become conscious of the craft in your work?
RAB: It’s like the beat of the moon, a good poetry night, all the stars and planets are aligned. For poetry it is like a well you go back to, it writes in pieces during the day, and at night the initial offering, then on subsequent nights you go back to the poem and bone it up until it rests, is perfect. Certain long poem books write in a breath, there is a certain drive, (perhaps from the Spirit world) until the story is told. The initial poetry sentences strike-through inspiration during the day, when woven into poems, is magical. Born of silence, the Muse and the Holy Spirit, are trance-like. With rewrites there is a certain awareness of language, each word is a conscious offering, as is each placement of juxtaposed words. In the reinvented poetics, there is a story working in layers and symbols, when done effectively it is mysterious with striking images and language, an original. The work is a Shakespearean rag, literature that uses street slang, riveting, the slam of sunlight, and New Age poetics.
7. What specific incident incited/inspired your last piece of work (of any form or length)?
RAB: The purchase of some Anchor Hocking Amber Sandwich Glass dinnerware sparked the writing of Sunshine On Our Little Towne, a childhood reminiscence of Willowdale. When sitting in front of the television at under 5 years, I viewed some Depression Glass sunshine kitchenware in amber with beautiful flowers and filigrees stirring instant desire. I had a dream where my elder cousin next door, Ellie, had shown me the beautiful coiffed butter dish, the entire dinner set only brought out at Christmas which she said she would give to me when I had proved myself. Fifty years later on eBay, an entire box of this magic appears. In rapture, I unwrapped all the beautiful pieces. Most of it was from the 1940s, thick and rich and some of it was from the 1970s, a little thinner but still beautiful. The special glass was invented as inexpensive and beautiful during the hard times of the late 1930s Depression years, to raise people’s spirits. As I looked at it in awe I began to remember the early years at Hillcrest Avenue, the 1960s, the cousins who lived on both sides next door, all of us children playing in the street, the quiet of the unknown, through the mist of mild brain damage, telepathy that was impaired and in shadows, the hidden ways of the dominant culture.
Rebecca Anne Banks (Poet, Singer, Songwriter, Musician, Writer, Artist, Philosopher, Counsellor,
Activist) lives in The New Age Renaissance Republic of Poetry, within the Spirit of Romance, writings
of the Muse, and the hidden love stories of the blue island. She has written more than 30 books of
poetry, (The Winter Tree, The Angel, The Book of Blue, Paris Blue, Passengers, Sleeper, The Colour
of Pomegranates, Tale Winds, In Shop Windows, Candy and Anarchy, Lover is Sunshine Coffee, The
Beekeeper’s Daughters, A Psalm of Blue . . .) a guide to The Holy Spirit Way, a guide to The Holy
Spirit Way for Artists, The Holy Spirit Way: A Handbook, a primer on discernment in marriage, a book
of family recipes, a book of children’s stories, and a book of World Peace Newsletters, all available at
Amazon Stations. Currently, she is working on Sunshine On Our Little Towne, a childhood
reminiscence in poetic prose and is writing The Barbizon poetry inspired by the Ukrainian conflict. She
is the Poetry Editor at Subterranean Blue Poetry, the CEO/Artist at Tea at Tympani Lane Records, the
Book Reviewer at The Book Reviewer, and the Quilt Artist at Kintsugi Art Quilts. In the dream of a
a quiet afternoon in Summer she can be found playing concerts in the velvet underground stonework