The Cold Panes of Surfaces is the moving second collection of poems from award-winning author Chris Banks.
Rooted in the pastoral tradition of Wordsworth, Frost and Wallace Stevens, The Cold Panes of Surfaces describes the Southern Ontario landscape of trains, lakes, moose and pine with unflinchingly sharp image and metaphor. In so doing, he brings to it a distinctly modern edge, meditating on "the rent we are paying to the planet for our waning lives." Here, beetles become "child kamikazes... a wallpaper of yellow-winged flames" and the planet is a "Museum of Natural Beauty."
Banks takes imaginative leaps into the worlds of a magician's assistant, a fifteenth-century Japanese poet, and the Muse. Most of all, these poems eloquently describe childhood, loss in all its forms, the vagaries of relationships, and being "a sullen young man / caught in the world's fist."
The Cold Panes of Surfaces is a remarkable collection, and a fitting follow-up to Banks' award-winning first book Bonfires.
The poems in this volume evince a desire to look deeply into the physical matter and ordinary events of the world, as if every occurrence and every surface were a pane of glass ... The poems convey a longing for solace and transcendence that is rarely fulfilled. Banks's world is shaped by remembering and by the happiness and grief that memory can summon. His moving poems are often earnest but ... they have a sly sense of humour that enlivens the collection.
--Nicholas Bradley, echolocation
Chris Banks slips, with great ease, between past and preset, 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 center of each poem.
--Kim Fahner, Canadian Book Review Annual
Banks is a keeper. I look forward to his progress.
--Andrew Vaisius, Prairie Fire
If the mood is often tinged with melancholy, the descriptions are wonderfully evocative: sailboats are "moored to their own reflections, like arks / filled with night's solace"; the landscape in 'Escarpment Country' consists of "townships and concessions tack-hammered together / into a huge picnic-cloth of / russet browns, tawny yellows, forests and farmlands spread out / like a rippling sea of lost details." Look past that frost-forming title; this collection is chock full of deft phrasing and memorable images.
--Barbara Carey, Toronto Star
Chris Banks takes the incidental moments of our lives and raise them with stunningly precise language, to the level of the divine ... the imagery is always fresh and revelatory, as if Banks were taking us by the hand, pointing to the world around us and saying, "Here is beauty. Here it is again. And here."
--Leah Rae, Geist
Banks honours poets who have undoubtedly influenced him -- they include Wallace Stevens, Wordsworth and Keats, Yeats and Front -- but his voice owes the most to Earle Briney and Al Purdy, two Canadian poets who shared Bank's compassionate attentiveness to nature. Nature is everywhere in Banks' poems, whether they are set in the country or in the city ... Cold Panes of Surfaces confirms the emergence of a poet who has meaningful things to say and who possesses the language tools to say it well.
--Robert Reid, The Record
Cold Panes of Surfaces offers appreciative readers 96-pages of Chris Banks' superbly crafted and enthusiastically recommended prose poems.
Throughout, Banks's craft is wonderfully assured. His leisurely, expansive lines are tightly packed with thought and feeling; his rhythms are finely attuned to the movement of a meditating mind; and his quiet, unostentatious language can give a sense of precision and mystery at one and the same time.
--Malcolm Woodland, University of Toronto Quarterly