Midlife Action Figure: Poems by Chris BanksMidlife Action Figure: Poems by Chris Banks

Midlife Action Figure: Poems

byChris Banks

Paperback | September 24, 2019

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Banks's stunning new collection, exploring bold frontiers

"Poetry is an act of mischief," Theodore Roethke famously once said, and Chris Banks takes this as his credo in Midlife Action Figure. His subject matter ranges from the familiar to the surreal, taking readers through poems that are both wondrous and strange, heartfelt and humorous, controlled and impatient. Whether calling a tree "an anthology of leaves" or describing time as "a Fisher-Price View-Master of 'first kisses' and 'no return' policies," Banks approaches writing as if anything might make for alarming, strange, and dizzying verse.

Banks knits together wit with wildly inventive imagery as he follows his poems outside convention where they play with stolen matches. Capable of both deep introspection and the quick turn of phrase, he places his tongue firmly in his cheek as he looks for a measure of human wonder in this intermission between TED Talks and the apocalypse. Midlife Action Figure is a tour de force for anyone looking for that rare book that is as exciting as it is provocative, showcasing both pathos and humor, while it explores what it means to be alive in the early 21st century.

Chris Banks is a Canadian poet and author of four previous collections of poems, most recently The Cloud Versus Grand Unification Theory (ECW Press 2017). His poetry has appeared in The New Quarterly, Arc Magazine, The Antigonish Review, Event, The Malahat Review, and Prism International, among other publications. He lives and writes i...
Title:Midlife Action Figure: PoemsFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:72 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.25 inShipping dimensions:8.5 × 5.5 × 0.25 inPublished:September 24, 2019Publisher:ECW PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:177041505X

ISBN - 13:9781770415058


Read from the Book

Time's Atlas Some people treat each day like IKEA instructions. Others look for a higher dimension in church pews. Hot yoga studios. Time is an atlas. A Fischer-Price View-Master of first kisses and "no return" policies. I wish this was even more poetic. Throw in the phrase In Media Res like a trial balloon. A benediction. A spark-plug. Another celebrity has overdosed on alcohol and benzos. Every story deserves a splashy two-page spread. Despite Old Navy ads and tooth-paste for sensitive teeth, the heart is a scourge. My spirit-animal is a scarecrow. The first-person singular feels wrong here, but the hive-mind, all that buzzing, overwhelms me. How many different ways to say Hallelujah? I think we would all feel better if we were allowed to fall apart one day out of the year. If only we could burn the briefcases. I miss the sound of cicadas. Electric dusk. What do they care about the end of post-modernism? Birth of narrow-casting? Everyone has a few words they would like to bury forever. I am losing landmarks as I get older, but thankfully we can google it all. The little white house on a hill overlooking the highway needs a new coat of paint but it is still there. The uranium mine, the miners, are gone. If you feel yourself  going crazy, you probably are. Only a little. Young men in black and white photographs, wearing soldier uniforms or baseball attire, stare out stoically from the back wall of dimly-lit bars and taverns. Today, wellness programs preach resiliency like they are selling hamburgers. I keep turning the pages of Time's atlas. I trace its illustrations with my fingers. The contoured lines. The last pages blank, then something, new shapes, a lost continent, new ports of call. A secret harbour, or a penal colony. I mark a big X where the future will make landfall.

Editorial Reviews

"Midlife Action Figure delivers surprise, delight, and sense; Banks slams sly one liners as though he were competing in a professional wrestling match . . . The result is breathlessly entertaining and gut-punchingly wise . . . Midlife Action Figure is an insightful tour through the human experience, crafted in clear and specific imagery that captivates the imagination and the intelligence. It is a book that begs to be read and reread." - Quill & Quire Starred Review"'The laboratory of aesthetics / these days is really about mischief / and surprise' writes Chris Banks in this collection of cheeky, pointed dicta on everything from how to survive an emergency to enduring a job interview, amid surreal admissions that the speaker has a 'minor crush on Saturn's moons' or possibly suffers a 'slow leak' as each year his 'heart grows an extra ring.' Midlife Action Figure is a book of solid poems from the centre of existing, through deep space and the places in the mind like 'Matryoshka dolls' that endlessly nest into their own allusiveness, returning with a yield of essential observations and imperatives for the continuance of the earth." - Catherine Owen, award-winning author of Designated Mourner"'My spirit guide is a scarecrow'; 'guilt is everyone's personal gulag'; 'can I coat-check this malaise?'; 'death is classically trained': Chris Banks builds poems out of short sentences that are like photons, little packets of energy full of aphoristic punch and surprise. He delights in the swings of imagination, in the way every next image or idea can plow new ground even as it alters the meaning and feel of what has preceded it. The result is a constant state of euphoria, an ongoing demonstration of the swerve and swirl of human consciousness. 'A river is a correspondence course' - as with so many lines here, my recognition that I've never thought of it that way is followed immediately by the sensation that there's no other way to see it, that I am being shown the truth." - Bob Hicok, award-winning poet and author of Elegy Owed"The poems are densely thick and incredibly rich, akin, somewhat, to a lyric molasses in which a reader is caught up in an unexpected lyric flow . . . A poetry in which one can't easily pull away from . . . Banks' poems are a kind of lyric collage." - rob mclennan's blog"There were a lot of single lines that stood out to me, I found many gems among these short poems . . . Midlife Action Figure is a powerful collection that will evoke many thoughts." - Literary Lizard blog