David Bankson, Poet
David Bankson, like many poets of our generation, started out writing as an outlet. As time passes, poets grow and their work blossoms–sometimes into floral free verse and other times into morose melancholic monorhyme. Bankson’s poems seem to stick to a very centered theme. While reading his poetry, you discover a sense of self that you never experienced before. The question of which self you’re facing is going to lie within you.
Bankson’s image of the self (whether it’s himself or “your”self, who but the poet really knows?) is presented to us in various forms and poetry styles that truly capture the inner essence of this budding writer and how hard he works at his craft. The following poem, “Alacrima”, seems to be a fine example of the poet’s inner struggles and musings on his own talent and writings.
Every heartache is worth examining
with a heavy loaded gun;
but a calamitous event
flattens and dulls in a word or a tear.
It secretes from lacrimal glands,
to protect and heal
the surface of heart and cornea —
a necessary distortion
when experience has no replicant.
The question remains of how to unload
without withdrawing into artifice.
But isn’t that exactly what art is:
artificial for the sake
of unloading emotion?
Yet the desert crocodile has learned
to approximate consistency
in terms of viscosity,
No — that we understand, and all too well.
That sort of artifice
is as informative as a textbook
bracing a table leg,
an infirm prop for an ego,
and we won’t have any of that
if we are to be honest with ourselves.
I cannot find the words or facts
to express a devastating grief.
When tears alone are not enough
I remain a loaded gun.
I remain a heavy, loaded gun.
David was kind enough to answer some questions about his writings and on being a wordsmith. Here, have a look:
Pretty Kool Dame: Hi David. Thanks for taking time away from writing to talk with me. When did you first discover your love of poetry? When did you start writing your own?
David Bankson: How I got into poetry is a blurry memory. I was attempting to write books from ten years old, and at some point that bled over into poetry. I exclusively read fantasy books then–around 12, when the poetry began–so my first two poems were about the majesty and ferocity of dragons. That quickly turned into an outlet for my teenage angst, and by 16 I was in trouble at school for my dark poetry. For a long time it was a personal pursuit by necessity.
PKD: Do you have any favorite poets or any who have influenced your work?
DB: Oh, so many! John Ashbery, Emily Dickinson, John Cage, Sylvia Plath, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Lorine Niedecker, John Berryman, and Kenneth Goldsmith…to name a few.
PKD: On average, how often a week do you write?
DB: I write every day. I don’t really have a time I force myself to sit down and write. I do the majority of my early writing and notes on my phone in a document called “The Epic.” It’s filled with snippets I hear throughout the day: ads, conversations, television, you name it. When I add to it, if I have time, I look through it and mix the phrases around. If something sparks in some way, I stick them together in the document. During one of these junctures it will turn into a fully-formed idea and I really “get in the zone” of writing. That’s when a real poem is created for me, but it’s difficult to quantify. Perhaps 2-5 times per week on average I complete a poem this way.
PKD: Where does most of your inspiration come from?
DB: Most of it comes from other poetry and philosophy. I read and study poems and poetry every day, and most of my inspiration comes just from that. Imitating the poets I consider the best is a great jumping-off point.
The Poet & his pet
PKD: Tells us about some of your published work.
DB: I am an unsharpened pencil in this bag. I have ten poems published online, nothing in print. But I have only begun to focus on this recently; most of these publications are from the previous three months.
PKD: Do you feel that the advancement of the internet has made it harder or easier for poets’ voices to be heard? Has the internet helped you to grow in exposure?
DB: I see this going both ways. I have seen people in other countries that had no way to get their voice out before the internet. Many of them are hungriest poets to learn, in my experience. Beyond social media, though, submitting to many literary journals has become beautifully streamlined. For me, the greatest boon to my writing has been the free online courses and videos. Free online courses such as Penn State’s “ModPo” course are treasure troves. Like anything else, the internet is as useful as the user makes it.
PKD: What is your favorite poem of yours and why?
DB: I’m so self-deprecating about my work that I’m not sure I could really pick one. “Manifesto of Exposure” was intensely personal for me, but I wrote it more for myself than for anyone’s understanding. “The Drive” is my longest, most philosophical, and probably easiest to understand poem.
PKD: Do you have any upcoming releases or current projects that you are working on?
DB: I am currently awaiting online publication of three poems in Indiana Voice Journal’s May issue. My first print publication will soon be in Five 2 One Magazine. “The Drive,” which I mentioned before, has been published online by Walking Is Still Honest Press on April 29th.
PKD: Lastly, do you have any words of advice or wisdom for new poets?
DB: You will hear the best advice over and over: Read a lot, and write a lot. Do them both every day, whether you have time or not. Otherwise, train yourself to always be “on” for inspiration. If William Carlos Williams can write about a broken piece of glass and Gertrude Stein can write about a carafe, then you can write about anything. Creativity resides within solving a problem. Set limits on what you allow yourself to do in poem, and you’ll be surprised how creative that restraint makes you. Flip the old clichés on their heads. Everyone has used a rose to describe love…what has nobody used to describe it? What has nobody done before? Push the rules until they almost break. Don’t be afraid to make people question what poetry is and what it can do. And pay attention to every detail of your poetry. It is more important in poetry to have a reason for every detail and decision than in any other art form.
You can check out more of David’s work on his Facebook page: