Maitreyabandhu

Maitreyabandhu

Maitreyabandhu has won the Keats-Shelley Prize, The Basil Bunting Award, the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and the New Writer and Ledbury Festival competitions. His poems have been published in such as The Guardian online, Poetry Review, and The North, and his articles have appeared in Poetry Review, Magma and Agenda. He lives at the London Buddhist Centre and has been ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order for 20 years. He has written two books on Buddhism.

Maitreyabandhu was a winner in the 2010 Book & Pamphlet Competition, judged by Simon Armitage, with his collection The Bond. The pamphlet was then shortlisted for the 2011 Michael Marks Award for Poetry Pamphlets.

Read an interview with Maitreyabandhu in The Guardian here.

 


Reviews

'Nostalgic, but not sentimental or wistful, the poems have a real sense of the here and now. They strike home.' — Simon Armitage

 

'Maitreyabandhu’s writing is tactile, sensual, and often elegiac in tone. In poems such as ‘The Dam’, he captures the secrecy and excitement of the lovers who ‘found a fallen willow’ and then ‘lay down on our coats’, whilst simultaneously creating a sense of lost adolescence. This idea runs throughout the collection, whether that be in the form of the secret embraces of poems such as ‘The Dam’ or ‘Sestina’, or in the wish to rediscover a family history at the opening of the collection. In these poems, the poetic voice moves between the reflective and the childlike, as the small objects of a family history become a window onto the past.' — The Stand 


'The poems in The Bond are tactile, sensual, and often elegiac in tone, though never sentimental or wistful. Many of the poems are occupied by events in the poet's past, particularly youth and adolescence. They lovingly recreate a world of small pleasure, discoveries and terrors.' the judges of the 2011 Michael Marks Award (Alan Jenkins, Carola Luther, Tanya Kirk)


'An ordained member of the Tritatna Buddhist Order and a poet and teacher of some distinction, Maitreyabandhu has spoken of the connection between his artistic and his spiritual vocations. Quoting Auden — "The primary function of poetry, as of all the arts, is to make us more aware of ourselves and the world around us" — he noted in a 2009 Guardian interview that poetry had become "another strand of my spiritual practice". The poems in this slim but satisfying pamphlet are certainly characterised by a quiet lucidity of vision; and if the poet's contemplative gaze seems more strongly focused on past events than on the present moment generally recommended in Buddhist meditative practice, this can be taken to imply a complication rather than a contradiction.

It's the poet's own past that preoccupies him, in particular the events of his childhood and youth. Poems such as 'The Chest of Drawers' and 'Copper Wire' lovingly recreate a world of small pleasures, discoveries and terrors: a polish tin given to the child to hold while his mother gets on with the ironing, a discarded strand of wire wrested from the earth by a father who lets nothing go to waste, the nightmare not quite held at bay by maternal love. Even where adolescent sexuality enters the frame, the vision itself remains essentially childlike, though a more knowing adult perspective is implied in a recurrent questioning of the authenticity of memory.

The ordinariness of the remembered events doesn't preclude a sense of mystery, and in one poem, 'The Small Boy and the Mouse', the childhood experience is an overtly visionary one. The poem concludes with an image of all-encompassing light and the suggestion that the everyday world — or the boy's perception of it — has been subtly but importantly transformed by what he has seen or imagined: "He opened his eyes. All the furniture / looked strange, as if someone had rearranged it."' — Jem Poster, Poetry Review


'The Bond by Maitreyabandhu consists largely of fragments of blank verse autobiography, full of sharply registered sense impressions from which other meanings gradually loosen and lift. More self-conscious notes can occasionally be heard. In “Markings”, for example, the sudden, surprising triumph of an achieved likeness reveals the makings of a poet, although this Promethean fire is lambent flame that plays with characteristic gentleness over a lovingly recollected face: “you were altering / the jaw-line very slightly, with the tip of a filbert brush, when there he was”. The instruments of Maitreyabandhu’s art are as sharp and precise as his father’s tools, of which a piano recital reminds him. In “Uchida from the Choir Stalls” he dignifies his father’s manual precision by comparing it to virtuoso pianism. But he also insists that a simple, resonant rightness is the hallmark of all true art.'— The TLS


Most of the poems in The Bond test out more oblique links with bookmaking: they detail a succession of quotidian objects, tools and implements. The poet’s instruments are linked with objects that keep demanding second and third viewings. Memories resonate in old objects and in one’s ways of verbally and physically handling them. The ‘hammers’ of the poet’s father are in abundance (‘claw hammer, tack hammer’, ‘toffee hammer’, ‘hammers in a post’), as are such objects as: a ‘long handled spade’, ‘a chisel’, ‘tools from car boot sales’. If the materials of the poet’s craft structure his world, this is also the case for those he describes and recalls; for instance, the carpenters for whom everything becomes ‘wood’, ‘all the houses’, their ‘speech/ … large and deliberate like the writing desks they build;/even their breakfast bowls are teak’. The craftsman’s and the artist’s worlds are oriented by the objects they create.

In The Bond generous margins surround concise poems. This roomy architecture is integral to the pamphlet’s mood of quiet recollection. By contrast, in Bentley’s Largo the eye is urgent and the margins narrow. Busy with footnotes and epigraphs, the three long poems of the volume intersperse historical and modern voices, allusions, football commentary and political broadcast. Largo itself is larger than Doorstop’s usual A5 format, and its wide-ranging, cacophonous pages are filled with a succession of interwoven printed voices, from Margaret Thatcher to Arthur Scargill, Ian McMillan to ‘the commentator on BBC local radio’, the sound of ‘Mozart’s piano Concerto No. 21/in C Major’ to that of the ‘Tannoy … /Here they come, beautiful ones, the beautiful ones, la la la la – ’. — Natalie Pollard, London Magazine



Maitreyabandhu reads his poem 'The Cutting' — winner of the 2010 Ledbury Festival Poetry Competition.

 

 

THE VIEWING

Her hairbrush rested on a green-glass dish 
among empty jars with metal screw-on lids. 
It felt like being in church or having to wear 
a tie when it was hot; but the room was cold 
and too clean. It smelt of iodine and tin.
My parents had got taller and further away, 
they stood unusually close. My father’s voice 
was the voice he kept for solemn things. 

Someone said ‘peaceful’ but I wouldn’t say that. 
And if there was a special quiet, it made 
the air peel off us like a skin – her nose 
suddenly eagle-like and high, her eyes
sunk back. It was her but it was someone else 
as well: it might have been the wolf.

Titles by this author

  The Bond
The Bond
£5

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