The author states that some of the inspiration for this book came from a statue of an angel by David Altmejd called 'the eye.' According to Rebecca, it is one long poem, 32 pages of verse,
along with photographs of the statue, 'the eye.' Her poetry is not about revolution, politics, philosophy or science, football or any sports, or religion, with no profound message. What
I like about the book is the simplicity of the format anywhere from four lines to fourteen lines on every page, sometimes like Haiku and at other times like the free verse of Richard Brautigan
and Beat Poets. There is some interesting imagery such as "Somewhere on rain street, the hanging tree, like selling indulgences" As is the case with many writers there are the influences
of modern day media, some reference to Leonard Cohen. Some lines that seem to come right out of a Batman and Robin movie, "that golden wings could mend."
Another thing I liked about the book was the consistency with the theme around the statue of the angel. After many years of writing there is still a freshness to the work as
almost seen through the eyes of a child. Some people are good at turning real life into stone and metals and others write about metal and stone like it was made of flesh and blood.
Some times there are angels everywhere when you look around as we go through a war torn world each day. This is a good read.
- Daniel Rajala (Poet)
The Angel, by Rebecca Banks, is a book length lyrical poem entwined with photographic images of The Eye, a sculpture by David Altmejd, commissioned by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
This sculpture is part Michelangelo’s David, part fallen angel. Imagine the statue of a man, the left arm mechanical, the head a tangle of hands, two wings (neither apparently in working
condition) and torso a blank rectangular hole. In the cover image, this hole is filled with the color of muted blue sky. The dozen images scattered throughout the book are from various
angles, suggesting a different view of the angel, according to the position of the lens. In its approach, the book is reminiscent of “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird,” by Wallace Stevens.
The beginning of the poem presents the Angel as messenger, The Angel as gateway to divine wisdom: “The Spirit / whispers to the Angel / the secrets of the world / if you listen closely / he will whisper them to you.” The poem then erupts into invocation: “Angel of harkness . . . o’ well loved angel . . . . fly us anywhere, / somewhere / even here, / heaven is blue.” The color blue occurs throughout the poem: “angel bluesky”; “in the sky / the quiet of blue”; “blue o’ sweet blue”; “somewhere blue / you dance with the sky”; “I could imagine blue”; “to drink the blue”; “blue sky cathedral”; “blue / as the sky.” Understandably, the sky is a recurring image, as are windows.
This is not your typical angel, for this angel conveys “secrets of the world,” and the invocation is to “fly us anywhere . . . even here.” This is some “street angel” who “sits, so beautiful by the road.” “Some angel on his knees.” This angel has feet, as well, and walks. This is the angel “by the battlefield.” The angel, who, perhaps, needs a sense of redemption himself. I’m not exactly sure whether the angel is truly the messenger of God, or a messenger in search of redemption himself; and, this is what makes this book length lyric so interesting. The poem ends: “The long road / and the conversation / of a lover, / going home.” I like to think, at the end of the poem, that this angel is made whole, that the rectangular hole in the center of his chest is filled in (even with blue sky) and that he is no longer on his knees, in the street, a “beggar,” fashioned” from “the gut strings” of a “guitar.” I like to think that it is the poet who has become angel.
In addition to recurring images, repetition and assonance also occur in the poem. Sound effects seem not contrived, but natural. This is poetry that is not striving to be poetry. It simply is. Overall, a stunning book of image and text.
- Nettie Farris (Poet)
The Angel is a work of quiet genius. This book of poetry a modern love dialectic rings of the Gothic Cathedral, the struggle of the birth into the New Age.
Inspired by The Muse, the Archangel Gabriel and the angel statue “The Eye” by David Altmejd the poems write as if taking the reader on the journey of the Oracle, a dialogue
of the sacred and the profane. The book of poems features a photo installation of “The Eye” angel statue by Victor Tangermann, the photographs riveting. The statue
is absolutely engaging, one cannot resist the compulsion to walk around it and snap photographs. “The Eye” statue, the hollow space in the chest, the hands caressing
the face, a treatise on love and as if the tattered, beautiful angel was a casualty from a war zone, artistically a marvel. The poetry is the idea of a love affair
within the dialectic of the Old World, love in the time of war. As if the Poet is in dialogue with a fallen angel, possibly an archangel, The Angel, who as he travels
the apocalypse becomes redeemed (whether the love affair is redeemed remains in question, possibly a testament to the tumultuous times). It is the idea of the Angel as
a person of the street, “street angel heart” an object of worship “he carries the quiet as he sits by the street the Buddha one . . . “ as if everyman is an eloquent
beggar before the Lord. In the backdrop of great turmoil, the setting is of a haunted inner city of decaying infrastructure and grey stone saved by images of angels,
sunlight, forest, sky and rain. Borrowing from Neo-classical archetypes, the cult of nature, the idea of man as fallible and in search of God there is a reference to
Hamlet by the Poet William Shakespeare. And although there is a casual rhyme schemata, occasionally you can find an original rhyming couplet at the end of a poem aka
Shakespeare. There is also a passing reference to T.S. Eliot’s The Wasteland (that in turn was influenced by Dante Alighieri’s Inferno) with the idea of journey through
the desert/hell and a hidden dialectic of war, a battle between good and evil. As if in The Angel, there is a struggle between damnation and redemption, the fallen angel
and the love affair with the Poet –“the ring of gold, blue sky cathedral in the rain.” The poem is also influenced by Biblical allusions of the New Testament and
particularly Revelations. The 21st century bead drawn on style, with the short truncated lines and occasional rhyming owes itself to the influence of the Beat Poets
and the post-moderns. A truly powerful book of love poems set in the times of the apocalypse calling us to a better understanding of the song of the Holy Spirit, the
song of love. “The Eye” statue has one arm that is bare straifed, like a mecano, possibly alluding to the machine of the Industrial Economy. The Angel, representative
of the blasphemy of the Machine Age with atomic weapons and 2 World Wars, the war economy and the violence of the heart away from the light, star-crossed lovers in exile,
passing into the New Age of Imagine Peace through the magic of the Internet and the rediscovery of the tenets of the Holy Spirit, it is the rediscovery of love itself.
- Subterranean Blue Poetry