Green Again by Betsy Barber Bancroft

Copyright 1971
Checked out 0 times in ?? years (since I’m the first to check it out, I have no idea when it was acquired)

Green Again has several qualities recommending it. It’s a beautifully made book in perfect condition. Adding to that appeal are two items giving it particular charm: the signature of the poet, and a newspaper clipping pasted on the inside front cover inviting people to a “tea” honoring the poet, which includes a photograph of her. I’m a sucker for even minor illustrations in books and so was further charmed by the sketches throughout the book. The poet is from Birmingham, about 75 miles south of Albertville and has been an active participant in the Alabama poetry scene.  (In fact, this volume has recently been re-issued.) Mrs. Bancroft’s poetry is honest, unstilted and worth reading. My favorite is “Sequoia Encounter:”

A giant tree was bred
in a forest of giants,
of an earth and an air
before man’s memory.
Its dark head
like a grizzled tip
of arrow
was prodding sky
for room to lean on ether,
or so it seemed;
and as I watched,
a cobweb,
tenuous filament,
(from that day’s spider)
blew, one end free,
and turned to fiery silver,
struck brilliant
in the late, limb-threading sun.
And I was there,
alive to that whole moment,
with a tree and many trees
that were the eons
and a web that was a moment–
and was, in coming, gone.

There’s a great deal of historical value in this volume as well. The poet responds to the changes of that time (the1960s), which largely aren’t to her liking. I enjoyed her poem about the first moon landing, “Reality:”

We, man, the astronauts
ascended the stepless air,
seeking quiet moon
whose face we had adored
milleniums before.
We had, in all our lives,
yearned toward that face
as beauty magnified.
In aching flight
our eyes found moon to be,
as dry, as dry, as dry
and, turning back, saw earth
more beautiful
than that which we desired,
more beckoning
than all the unmisted moons
and smaller
than we cared to understand.

So Green Again is a keeper on several accounts as I mentioned at the start. Mrs. Bancroft writes well and she writes as a Southern woman. She is a regional poet and the poems in this volume have historical value. Despite the utter lack of circulation, this is definitely a keeper. It belongs in Albertville’s library collection.

There are two other volumes of Bancroft’s poetry at the library and for the same reasons stated in this review, I suggest they also be kept on the shelves.


About jppoetryreader

Poetry reviewer and poetry consultant for libraries
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