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Banks’ childhood was spent in the small Ontario towns of Stayner, Sioux Lookout, and Bancroft. He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Guelph, before moving on to complete a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing fromConcordia University and later a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario. Banks’ works include a chapbook, Form Letters (2002). His first full-length collection, Bonfires, was awarded the Jack Chalmers Award for poetry by the Canadian Authors’ Association in 2004. Bonfires was also a finalist for the Gerald Lampert Award for best first book of poetry in Canada. His most recent collection of poems Winter Cranes published by ECW Press appeared in the fall of 2011. His work has received positive reviews both in Canada and in the United States. He lives in Waterloo, Ontario, where he writes, and teaches at Bluevale Collegiate Institute.

Awards:

2004: Canadian Authors Association, winner of poetry award, ‘Bonfires [1]
2004: Finalist for Gerald Lampert Award for poetry, ‘Bonfires
2006: Gowlings Literary Award [2]

Bibliography: 
“Form Letters”, Junction Books, 2002. (chapbook)
“Bonfires”, Nightwood Editions, 2003.
“Sparrows and Arrows”, Bilbioasis, 2006. (chapbook)
“The Cold Panes of Surfaces”, Nightwood Editions, 2006.
“Winter Cranes”, ECW Press, 2011.

Winter Cranes By Chris Banks

My wife saw birds pass over the frozen pond
and wondered aloud if they were cranes
desiring proof of their corporeal existence
to mark them as either a tangible reality
or a fantasy born of some lack in our lives.
Their wings beat exultantly, blossoming,
a wild spume of feathers backlit by morning sun
so they looked like more than just creatures
but symbols ferried from myth or poetry
to satisfy my wife’s wishes or my need to place
a few lines down upon the blank sheet
of this morning’s latest offering of snow.
I said they were only herons. The same ones
from last summer come back a little early,
guided by an instinct, a faint signal, hard-wired
in their brains to the earth’s magnetic fields
allowing them to navigate their way here
each year to stand like sentries, silhouettes
against the pond’s grey light, if only to teach us
how even patience can be a kind of violence.
“I want them to be cranes, “my wife said again,
a little more forcefully this time, so her words
were now a truth or a sacrament of experience
fully grasped, making us hungry for the dynasties
of the past we believe such birds emerge from
like after-images of a dream only now recalled.
“I wish they were cranes too”, I said, watching
the pair descending towards the farthest end
of the pond where the ice was the thinnest,
the city hardening its shell in the background,
still waiting for the winter storms to come.

Riverland By Chris Banks

A community runs through it, the sign
says beside the housing development
painting images of fly-fishermen
in hip-waders, knee-deep in currents
pulling out trout, one-handed, while
happily waving at men and women
mowing lawns, grilling fillet mignon
on backyard hibachis. Such illusions
conjured up by a marketing whiz kid
to sell condos to retirees, cavernous
houses, small fortresses, to families.
Already past the fields of goldenrod,
chicory, butter and eggs, wild lupines,
there are wooden posts sticking out in
all directions with flags of orange tape
to mark off where the new boundaries
between subdivisions and wilderness
have been drawn in the indivisible air.
Riverland this is, presumably, for now—
but it runs through erector-set towers
carrying power-lines from one suburb
to the next and soon those populations
on the horizon will move to these banks
and this river will inscribe its pattern
inside the lines of a city planner’s map
so people may live the uncommon life
that’s been promised to us for so long now
it’s impossible not to see the rows
of replica homes standing on its shores,
their blank faces gazing upon its surface,
and never, not once, feel it leaving us.

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