Monday, October 20, 2008


Chris Banks for DESK SPACE

DESK SPACE Who (a witty one-liner or a bio)?

Chris Banks Chris Banks is a Waterloo poet and high school creative writing teacher which esentially involves being a life coach for angry disenfranchised teens who wear black and tend to like books more than people.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book (or when are you publishing your next)?

CB I started writing poems in highschool when I was sixteen after my teacher Mrs. Tetzner introduced me to some poems by Earle Birney and Al Purdy. I wrote my first poems in school hallways and friends’ bedroom walls but never at a desk. Next, I went to university and began writing poems at a desk and reading poems in tiny bars. Some years later, I wrote two poetry books Bonfires and The Cold Panes of Surfaces on a white Ikea pressboard desk that was totally falling apart and which I had to eventually throw away last year. Poor little desk. I miss you.

DS Where do you write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

CB I now write at a much bigger desk in a small room of my new house deep in the heart of the suburbs. I call my writing space “The laboratory”. Some poets have writing studios. I have a laboratory.

DS Why do you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think, in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

CB For me, I need a quiet area to do any kind of imaginative writing which is why I like having my work space separate from other rooms. I also like to surround myself with things I like. Beside my desk, I keep a bookcase full of poetry and essay collections within easy reach. Above my computer sits a bulletin board where I have stuck an assortment of little mementos: photos of poets I admire; the poem “To The Shade of Po Chu-I” by William Carlos Williams; a photo of my wife and I camping in Muskoka; a photo of two porcelain monks I wrote a poem about for my last book; a quote by Auden I really like; a Buddhist cartoon illustrating the Five Hindrances; and lastly, an essay by the American poet Gregory Orr about the making of poems. On my other wall, I also have a framed broadsheet “On Poetry & Craft” by Theodore Roethke which was printed by Copper Canyon Press. It too reminds me everyday what it takes to write poems.

DS What are you working on now?

CB I’m working on a new manuscript of poems and I am about a third of the way through it. So far, it is a hodge-podge of long rambling meditations and lyrics which try to find some middle ground between the spiritual and the corporeal with an added dash of blank verse and syllabics thrown into the mix.

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