GEOFF STEVENS MEMORIAL POETRY PRIZE 2018 IS NOW OPEN
Ben Banyard was born in Solihull in 1975 and moved to the West Country in 1994 to read English Literature and Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Plymouth’s former arts and education campus in Exmouth.
It was during this period that Ben began to write poetry, although it wasn’t until he joined Jo Bell’s famous 52 group two decades later that he started to take writing seriously. Since then his poems have appeared widely, both in print and online.
Ben’s debut pamphlet, ‘Communing’, was published by Indigo Dreams in 2016.
Between 2014-2017 Ben edited the online journal, Clear Poetry.
He lives in Portishead, just outside Bristol, with his wife Natalie and twins Daisy and Jack. He blogs at https://benbanyard.wordpress.com
138 x 216mm
£8.99 + P&P UK
PUB: 1st March 2018
‘We Are All Lucky’ is an uplifting collection which carefully examines the joys and sorrows of modern life, from the cradle to the grave and everything in between.
'What strikes me most about Banyard's poems is his affection for humanity, grounded by his wry humour. His imagination allows him to empathise with people he encounters. He has the gift of finding pleasure in the everyday, in all its seediness and tawdry beauty. He has the true poet's gift of noticing details others miss.'
'Ben Banyard writes accessible poems about the real world, with its triumphs and disasters, tragedies and comedies. I like them for their humanity and warmth, for their sense of humour, and for the way Banyard often pins down just the right details to bring a piece vividly to life. This is an enjoyable collection.'
'There is an impressive range here and, whether writing about childhood memories, being a father, cataracts, spit hoods or Birmingham, this poet displays a sureness of touch and an ability to precisely capture a vanished world or the exact tone of a voice. Ben Banyard is a poet with a sharp-eyed yet affectionate view of the world. I very much enjoyed this confident and varied collection.'
We Are All Lucky
We are not here to ease it down a slipway
but we hope for a smooth voyage.
A champagne bottle won't be smashed on its bow
but we will say its name to invoke success.
The writer is skilled, spent days in dry dock
plating, welding, riveting, tarring, agonising, praying.
A small crowd has gathered to see its splash;
there are tugs and a pilot to acclaim it.
We could wet its head, smoke cigars,
but if you ask me we should hold it high,
read its pages aloud as an incantation,
waft it with incense, spank it lightly with blossomed branches.
Ask it to come back a year from now
to tell tales of its adventures in the world's hands.
Don’t listen to them;
this street wasn’t better
in the old days.
The pound shop used to be
a butcher’s on one side
and an undertaker’s on the other;
they knocked them together
when it was Woolies
but I can still see
mourners dressed in black
having to look at
all the pigs’ heads.
There are always drinkers
by the bus stop nowadays
but before the war
your great granddad
went missing one pay day
and came home in the morning
with his arm around a policeman.
People moan about
all the charity shops
but you try shaking a tin
anywhere these days.
I can spend a morning
going door to door;
the cancer one’s best.
Its handy ever since
they shut the bingo hall.
It’s all online now isn’t it?
Courage, mon brave
Keep these words in your wallet
or a bright locket around your neck.
They may dim or scuff over time
but gently polished they will reignite,
kindled to prove a far beacon.
Shrug them on like a cool arm
around your shoulder when depths
approach, when love seems distant.
Let the world see you can bear fear,
meet its stare eye to eye; smile.
The lives in commercials needn’t be yours
a man and woman grinning
at a sunkissed boy and girl
clean cars coast through ghost towns
abstract drama of eau de toilette
glass and plastic blue glow of gadgets
banks are your loyal local friend
this is how they insist you wish to be
trammelling a deep generic furrow
couched in the glare of fragrant daydreams
at the mercy of serving suggestions
We Are All Lucky
Yes, the city has better graffiti
but the words set your fingers drumming.
The lights remain red long enough
for you to think about it as you idle.
A mischievous part of you asks
if Lucky is a cypher for Spartacus.
What is luck, and do you believe in it?
Is anyone truly, consistently unlucky?
You are lucky you realise
that the scrawl is true.
There are sorrowful days, yes,
shadows, sleepless nights.
Sometimes wallets, keys, phones,
people you love, go missing.
But your life is not a passive coast
from one negative to the next.
There’s a lot of good fortune
to be thankful for. You make a list.
On the radio they say the victim
sustained life-changing injuries.
My grandfather lost half a finger
in a machine at work.
I broke my collar bone
under a collapsed scrum.
Dad came off a Triumph,
his nose crushed on asphalt.
Scars tell stories;
we’re never the same.
And then I think of the Caesarean,
how you have a smile just there.
Driving down the tree-lined hill
the song shifts up a gear and my shoulders heave.
Used to find it too gloomy,
but the strings swell, buoy me up and
Stipe insists that little boy
they pulled from the sea last night
should be the last.
It’s morning in early September,
the sky is a crisp Aegean blue.
Sunlight splashes the road through leaves;
the season’s tide is turning.
I hope for a traffic jam around the bend,
just to sit for a few moments;
listen to this again for reassurance that
I left my son asleep in his bed.