MICHAEL BANGERTER: FREEZING THE FRAME
K. T. Publications 16 Fane Close
ISBN 0 907759 28 9
£5.50 [£10 overseas]
MICHAEL BANGERTER: THE FAT LADY SINGS
ISBN 1 903746 60 4
read review of a CD by Michael Bangerter
read about a CD of Michael Bangerter reading Thomas Hardy
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This page last updated: 11th December 2007.
|MICHAEL BANGERTER: FREEZING THE FRAME|
This is Michael Bangerter's second poetry collection. Wide ranging in subject matter, the 70 pages of poems are divided into two sections, VISIONS AND VOICES and AN ABSENCE OF STARS. They demonstrate careful observation, especially when connected with the natural world, together with an ability to create a poem from everyday events. The title poem, for example, catches the moment during a morning visit to the mailbox to retrieve the milk and papers, when the poet catches sight fleetingly of some wild animal.
There was the cold fell stare; no quarter given in its eye; each pied hair on the long back; and the naked tail, curving over.This is followed by SPOOK about a man seen rolling in a country road on a wild night, possibly hit by a car but a thorough search reveals nothing. Many of the poems are about such incidents. Others contain thoughtful comments and reminiscences of past experiences like GLANCES:
it's glances that persist yes, glances, linked to places a bus stop, a pub.Moments of perception initiated by ordinary events.
Memorable poetic images are perhaps rather thin on the ground, poems rely more on accurate description and observation and are good at describing a scene. I did like however some images in CASA FANTASMAL and THE GREEDY EARTH
That killer Autumn's here, bumping off Summer with a gamy breath. The low sun, fractured by nervous trees (they know their nakedness to come), still warms; its job not quite done.Several poems reflect Michael Bangerter's experiences as an actor in the theatre and on television like THEATRICALS LEAVING and drama is well described in DEATH FELL IN, when after the daily rush for the workman's train:
...That morning, as steam got-up and pistons pushed, death fell in, headlong and chalk-faced, clutching a lunch box.One is not surprised that Michael Bangerter has also written for stage and radio.
The second section contains SEASIDE, a sad commentary on the many homeless misfits one finds at seaside resorts, which also contains some strong images and good descriptive lines.
As night comes, he waits for the blackening slide of the sea to swallow him up. A slice of moon like an usherette's torch offers an aisle for him to walk-I like SUBTEXT a disturbing commentary — a Spielberg scene —, about a patient's thoughts while undergoing a hospital scan:
You know illness now, laddie. You who were lithe, ever young have joined the brotherhood of the sick. In life's sentence, your parenthesis is fixed.The final page or two in both the sections is devoted to haiku, not a surprise considering Michael Bangerter's ability to capture the moment in his poetry. Two haiku, in particular, appeal.
Infinity pressing on my starlightand almost on the last page I like the slightly quirky:
A stray and her litter in the cucumber frame growing kittensAltogether FREEZING THE FRAME is a worthwhile read.
|reviewer: Ron Woollard.|
|MICHAEL BANGERTER: THE FAT LADY SINGS|
Michael Bangerter must be an interesting personality as, apart from writing poetry, he has a theatre and writing background as an actor, playwright and reviewer. He studied at RADA and is also a teacher. THE FAT LADY SINGS is his fourth book of poetry.
Bangerter projects, in his poetry, a free, un-selfconscious imagination. His haiku are vital, fast, celebratory. The reader feels that they are in the presence of an original voice. His poems and haiku give you a delicious, if brief, feeling of being intensely alive. Allowing a kind of transcendence of conformity, it's poetry that transforms the everyday into something new, as we can see in the first lines of an untitled poem that opens the collection:
When frost-sharp hares zigzag the moor and soft-eyed deer have leapt my fenceThe collection ends with these lines from the title poem:
No one much listens when the fat lady sings.In between the opening and closing poems are 68 haiku, an untitled poem and a poem titled COLLOQUIUM LONGUM — MEMORIA BREVIS. Everyone who reads and listens to the songs in this book will be amazed. The haiku are given plenty of space with two or one per page.
Bangerter's haiku teem with images — often seemingly freely associated, hallucinatory and leaping from topic to topic. Sometimes a group of haiku follow one theme as in the first section where the poems seem to relate to a particular person:
kissing her forehead thinking to kiss her lips saying our goodbyes we ignore what is behind her smileYou can imagine that these haiku relate to a loved one.
The haiku in the next section relate to the natural world: moon, stars, snow, the river, garden, rainbow, and more. You may picture the poet watching the "clouds hide the moon", you can end up by seeing him picking
daffodil bulbs from the debrisor be startled with a familiar image given a new slant:
2 am — listening to my heart going on and on andYou may think you're in the heart of the British countryside
miles of hedgeless land — suddenly, the past is a patchwork of fieldsthen, click — you're remembering times past brought to you simply by the sight of nut-brown conkers
fallen conkers their shine takes one backThe haiku are restrained. They are intense. Innocence, naivety and spontaneity may be seen as disadvantages in the modern world, but these haiku capture feelings, emotions and scenes in simple language.
A stylistic variation is shown in the poems. There's a stark straightforward minimalism in the untitled short poem
A month or so after we parted you wrote me a letter, penned hurriedly propped up on some soft shoreline.There's the pessimism of COLLOQUIUM LONGUM - MEMORIA BREVIS:
And I can't remember any of it. Well, a few scraps to be construed, got wrong — and those old loves? — their memories (it seems) are less long!In the final section of haiku there are one or two sexual images: morning, emptying
the ashtray — two stubs, one smudged with 'flush pink' soft porn on a large screen — at the bar a man orders a pink ladybut there are also images of a hospice, an elderly student, a row of old men, a dentist, a dead rabbit, and much more. But there also humorous haiku. The funny, absurd poem.
stepping back from the elephant god, I tread on someone's footA hyper-real memory:
in the tree-lined lane sunlit vapour blossoms from the drenched, flattened leavesMoving, realistic poems:
outside a Basra mosque empty Camel packets lighting our fire with newspapers — a whole week of burning desertsThen there's the dreamlike fantasy of the final poem:
The fat lady sweats to pirouette on her tiny voice, the other drinkers snigger between their gulps.Bangerter's fluent, supple, musical and never contrived poems are a pleasure to read. It is clear that what he has accomplished in THE FAT LADY SINGS is not merely to put together a collage of poems and haiku or even a mosaic in words, but to compose a kind of mini exposition of "moments in time" that add up to a lived life.
|reviewer: Patricia Prime.|