Published Thursday 1st March, 2018
We Are All Lucky is my first full collection, published by Indigo Dreams. It follows on from my pamphlet, Communing. It’s an uplifting collection which carefully examines the joys and sorrows of modern life, from the cradle to the grave and everything in between.
**Poetry Kit Book of the Month (May 2018)**
216mm x 138mm
£8.99 (Cover/retail price)
Praise for We Are All Lucky:
‘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.’
‘In his poems Ben does precisely what I look for in a poem; he points towards the small things in our lives and reminds us that these moments, these exchanges and places are what bind us and make us who we are. There is nothing showy or deliberately tricksy, nothing that says “Look at me, I’m a poet!” in the way too much contemporary writing does. Instead we have a collection that keeps on rewarding by speaking directly to us; nod of recognition when you finish reading a poem, followed by nod of recognition and wry smile as you finish the next, as we see ourselves and the world around us reflected. It is through the familiar that Ben gets us to new ways of seeing.’
Neil Elder – read the full review here
‘Ben’s first full poetry collection, superbly produced by Indigo Dreams Publishing, is an unpretentious and accessible affirmation of life in all its moods and colours. He has the enviable knack of making the ordinary extraordinary and is an upbeat chronicler of the here and now. The perfectly chosen details in his poems show a rare perceptiveness and sensitivity, and he has a genuine warmth and affection for his flawed characters. As was said about Vikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy many years ago, this book is “amiably peopled”. His humour is always gentle, never caustic.’
‘The title of this collection was inspired by graffiti spotted by a road sign for through traffic to Bristol airport and Temple Meads railway station. It strikes at the heart of Banyard’s writing which delights in putting a positive spin on inner city life and living. Reading his work is rather like coming across a flowering buddleia on a derelict building site.
‘There is an impressive range to his subject matter which is set in the West Midlands and Bristol. His world is populated by family, pubs, Balti restaurants, football, shopping and holidays by the sea. It is grounded in the everyday but it is never mundane or boring. The scenes he describes are fast moving with plenty of action to keep his audience attentive.
‘Overall, this is a strong collection from a promising writer who has a refreshing outlook on the world. There is a sureness about his writing, a great deal of human warmth, and an engaging sense of humour, as he documents with keen observation everything he sees before him. Recommended.’
Neil Leadbeater, Write Out Loud – read the full review here
‘These are assured and acute poems, fusing an understated voice with vivid imagery. Banyard oscillates adeptly between a direct, conversational address and lyricism seamlessly. As I read I was reminded of Dylan Thomas, though Ben’s voice is less overtly musical (Banyard is at times even prose-like in the clarity of his address), there are some shared characteristics, for example a gentle humour which takes as its subject human nature and delights in foibles of the poem’s cast of characters.
‘We Are All Lucky is unashamedly optimistic, whilst remaining clear-sighted and unflinching in its vision of the realities of life. To read it is to remember again how poetry can console. Ben’s penultimate poem ‘Courage, mon brave’ extols the virtues of having a mental mantra when times are hard, and lines from this poem could just as well apply to the contents of We Are All Lucky, a collection of ‘gently polished’ words which ‘reignite,/kindled to prove a far beacon.’
Anna Saunders, Mad Hatter Reviews – read the full review here and an interview I did for the site here
‘You spin poetic gold out of thoughts many poets would simply lay aside: what happens to old neighbours, the frustrations of commuting, starting school.
‘What I particularly relished, though, is the way in which a concern currently played down (in this age of identity politics etc) is woven through the work: I mean a careful and considered look at masculinity. On a simple level, you are writing things that pub-goers and footie fans will recognise (and even those of us, i.e. me, who are not either).
‘As well as dealing with the hardness of male behaviour (the compassionate Passion Play) you discuss the fact that – whisper it! – men have emotions.’
Steve Xerri – read Steve’s comments in full here
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i.m. June Payne (1929‐2015)
We shouldn’t be here, hushed in your house
shirtsleeves and collars pricking sunburn
while we say goodbye to you at last;
Auntie June, named for the summer.
In the end you preferred this gloomy lounge,
wasted yourself on fags, gin and Jeremy Kyle
but your sense of humour stuck around
long after you took one foot off the perch.
Outside in Monica Road an ice cream van chimes,
a plane booms overhead, a car stereo thuds.
Nighat passes a plate of homemade pakora,
your cats slide around our ankles.
The breeze rustles the plastic strip curtain,
we turn to look, half‐expecting you or Len
and then anecdotes and laughter tumble out,
someone spills cherry brandy on the carpet.
A blur of white feathers,
stab of crimson.
What fragment of the journey
from north to far south
was that overhead flit?
They call you sea swallow,
look for last yearʹs rings
to plot that mazy flap
as you craved a second summer,
longing for the dazzle of light on ice.
What drives your breathless
life on the wing? Are you
blown on warm currents,
a tiny heart zigzagging oceans?
Would settling mean the end?
I smile at the thought of you
skittering through expanses
of sky and ocean, not knowing
distance, not escaping,
an unremarkable hurry.
They want to study you,
set out on graph paper
the blueprint of your compass,
determine in binary notes
the importance of your far away.
Al Green LP
I wasnʹt there but I know
the sun was glinting
on the drum kit
the day that was recorded.
I can hear it too
in the brass lines
and the way the frets
bridge to brightness.
Blue skies channelled,
a prism of summer
like you were trying
to get to heaven that way.
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.
To contact me in order to arrange a guest reading at your local poetry group or festival, please email me at bbanyard [at] yahoo [dot] com, or via my Facebook page: facebook.com/benbanyardpoet