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Review: “IMPERMANENCE” by Colin Bancroft

Review: “IMPERMANENCE” by Colin Bancroft
Published by Maytree Press : ISBN 9781913508098 : Cover Art “Autumn Glow” by Kevin Threlfall

If you want to know that you are not alone in your grief, and that our temporariness connects us all to each other, then look past the fog to the trees and you will find these words

“Impermanence” is a collection of poems by the well published and award winning writer, Colin Bancroft. Published by Maytree Press it contains twenty three beautifully sculpted pieces that skillfully explore the interlinking themes of mortality, grief, and perhaps more importantly the inescapable humanness of it all. This is a journey into the end of life, into grief, and beyond. The real skill of these poems is not just the literal discussion of the subject matter but its emotional exploration, and in doing so the author has created stimulating and evocative pieces that immediately take root deep within the consciousness. After all, this is something we have to face whether we like it or not. This is not to paint the book as something hopeless, but rather as the title suggests it is a processing of impermanence, and it is this angle that makes the poems so expressive and insightful.

Another uniquely appealing point about this pamphlet is its relatability, particularly if you are a resident of the U.K and are familiar with some of its more ethereal landscapes such as the Pennines, an area where the author resides and clearly take inspiration from. By utilising some of the more spiritual and almost supernatural elements of these landscapes such as the creeping fog and the agelessness of the moors, the reader is taken into another dimension; a place of crossover between the living and the dead. It is quietly and delicately exquisite. This can be seen within the poem ‘Absence’, which through its words creates a huge and silent landscape, almost a void through which grief is expressed and one clearly designed to exist in the mind of someone staring through it at the loss of someone loved. The ending of this poem is very skillfully engineered and puts into words something that is difficult to fathom “like listening to a recording of an empty room. An absence looped over and over and”. Having experienced several losses throughout my life this spoke to me so powerfully that I had to pause.

However, as serious as this poetry is it does bring in warm and touching notes as seen in the poem ‘The Fog’, which tells a tale of a nighttime prank after watching the John Carpenter film of the same name (a film I used to watch with my late Father). It is touching, heartfelt, but sublimely vivid as the words made me conjure up the dark imagery of an Autumn night in all its faintly lit and damp lusciousness. But again, the skill here is the drawing out of the key theme. It is through longing, through a yearning to be able to touch the other side so as to be able to speak to someone lost just one more time. It is heartwarming, funny, but incredibly painful as anyone who has faced this will know to be true.

As a reader working through these poems it is clear that the author is taking us on a journey. However, we are not static. We are not just looking at a central focus, but also the before, the during and the after. This can be seen within the final poem ‘Roadkill’ which uses the metaphor of a car striking an unseen animal to express how death is unavoidable and that knowing this somehow makes it easier to accept. This is not an easy subject to deal with and one that the words don’t necessarily attempt to resolve, but rather hint that there can be an acceptance. And herein lies the real crux of this collection, in that whilst grief is not easy; it is painful, draining and all consuming, that once we know this we can attempt to somehow reconcile it and perhaps even move beyond it.

To summarise, “Impermanence” is a collection of poems that are emotional, elegant and human. It is British poetry of the very highest level, skillfully crafted to balance a modern feel with more classical tones. Whilst the subject matter and presentation is serious, it is also very accessible. Images, stories, and perspectives are given quite directly, or in other words, without being overly cryptic. The author has therefore relied on creating emotion through clinical word selection and stark imagery. It is crushingly powerful. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this collection. Its one that resonated with me on a personal level, but also as a writer. It comes as no surprise to me that “Tethered”, the first poem in this collection was the winner of the 2016 ‘Poets and Players’ Prize. If you want to read something that makes you genuinely feel the weight of your own existence, then this is it. Finally, I should add that this pamphlet has the most beautiful artwork with the painting ‘Autumn Glow’ by Kevin Threlfall stretching across the front cover. It completes this whole package, making it something you want to keep out on your table for all to see, hold, and then read.

Review by Stuart McPherson, November 2020

You can follow Colin Bancroft on Twitter @colin_bancroft

You can follow Maytree Press @MaytreePoetry

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