Yorkshire Times
A Voice of the North
Jonathan Humble
Features Writer
8:18 AM 12th November 2020

Review: Impermanence By Colin Bancroft

In the doctrines of Buddhism we are told that existence is transient and unpredictable. In the cycle of life nothing lasts, everything decays, and because of this impermanence, attachments to things may cause suffering; which is a bit of a shame really, because Colin Bancroft’s collection of poems is a thing of loveliness and I’d quite like to hang onto it for a while longer. I fully expect my copy of number 20 in the Maytree Press list of publications will become somewhat dog-eared fairly quickly, given the number of times over the last few days I’ve picked it up and pondered over the work therein.

Colin, creator of the Poets’ Directory, the 192 Magazine and the small press Nine Pens, has an impressive record of published poems, some of which feature in Impermanence.

The cover reveal of the pamphlet took place appropriately on National Poetry Day, with Marsden based artist Kevin Threlfall’s ‘Autumn Glow’ adorning the front, creating the same wonderful sense of anticipation with regards the contents as he did with Pauline Rowe’s The Ghost Hospital, also published by Maytree and shortlisted in the Saboteur Awards.

Released on the 30th October 2020, Impermanence invites us to contemplate that feeling of the world shifting below our feet, the turbulence of ‘motion, emotion and state’, of transition and agony in relationships, buffeted in the winds of experience and changeable weather. The opening poem, ‘Tethered’, adroitly and sympathetically captures the pain of bad news, using the metaphor of enduring a storm under canvas:

‘I could feel the guy ropes burying themselves
Deeper, holding on for dear life,
Knowing that if they weren’t tethered
In the ground that they could end up anywhere.’

In ‘Mise-en-scène’ the expectation of prospective life changes, and new responsibilities associated with bringing up a child, contemplated in the context and excitement of visiting a studio film tour (Warner Brothers ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ in Watford, I believe) is contrasted with the sadness of having the rug pulled from beneath …

‘There was a change to the script and we were left
With our plotlines torn, a blank screen,
And our storyboards undrawn.’

Later we get ‘The Clearing’ which, for me, connected most evidently with the poems I’ve highlighted so far. I am drawn to lines of poetry involving tree description and in Colin’s work, we have wonderful quality …

'Once there was a great parliament of trees here,
Taller than the light and deeper than the sky.
They stood in a crowded hush of stillness
As though considering some shared profundity

We had just missed. The wind bustled peripheries
Were always astir, but the ground level air was library
Thick, any movement we made a heavy ignorance.
We became reverent in our watchful standing.'

In this poem, the idea of rooms avoided because of grief and loss resonate as they might for a number of readers of this work who have had similar experiences. Yet the poem at the close offers a glimpse of light and the possibility of hope.

I thoroughly enjoyed Colin’s poetry and in recommending his collection would cite the Buddhist approach to embracing the Law of Impermanence, coming to terms with the uncontrollable in order to ease us through times of transition and open up even greater possibilities … just let me take my copy of Impermanence with me!

Impermanence is published by Maytree Press

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