Polyglot, a haibun by Caroline Giles Banks


I don’t remember touching any of the buttons on the 3 remotes required for operating the Smart TV. But ‘it’ decided that I have suddenly become visually impaired and require play-by-play description of the action on the screen. In a monotone A.I. dialect ‘it’ says: He enters the room. He takes off his hat. She steps forward and shakes his hand. Then the dialogue code-switches from English to a Romance language. Drawing on years of studying Latin I attempt to translate but quickly tire of the exercise.

What I really want is help installing the pricy new sound bar.

                                         the languages

                                         of getting old

                                         FaceTime with grandkids 

Caroline Giles Banks

The haiku "the languages"  is long-listed for
The Haiku Reader 2022 anthology:

About Caroline Giles Banks

Caroline Giles Banks is a cultural anthropologist by training and profession. 

Dr. Banks was on the faculties of Luther college in Decorah, Iowa, and the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Her academic teaching, research and publications are in the field of medical anthropology. 

Her teaching and research interests include medical anthropology, psychological anthropology, cultural diversity, and the anthropology of poetics. 

Her academic research focuses on the cultural dimensions of anorexia nervosa

Articles on her research appear in "Social Science and Medicine" "Ethos" "Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought" "The Psychoanalytic Review" and other academic journals and books.

Warm Under the Cat (Wellington Press, 1995); The Clock Chimes (Wellington Press, 2003); The Weight of Whiteness: a Memoir in Poetry (Wellington-Giles Press, 2012); The Clay Jar (Wellington-Giles Press, 2013); Temples, Tigers and Marigolds (Wellington-Giles Press, 2013); Picture a Poem: Ekphrastic and Other Poems (Wellington-Giles Press, 2014).

Caroline's haiku and senryu have received national awards, and appear in many anthologies, literary magazines and journals. She also writes ekphrastic poetry, poems in response to paintings, photographs, and sculpture. 

Her poetic memoir, "The Weight of Whiteness: A Memoir in Poetry," (Wellington-Giles Press in 2012), consists of poems about her awareness of her 'whiteness' during the integration of Boston's public schools in the 1950s, and responses to her interracial marriage in 1966, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned as unconstitutional, sixteen states' laws prohibiting miscegenation.

Caroline Giles Banks lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA.

Caroline's books online 

(including "The Weight of Whiteness: A Memoir in Poetry"):


 "These poems lay bare a harrowing journey filled with questions and heartache...I can only read one each day for one poem fills my day with...the price of individuality and the pain of loving whom you choose to love."
Joseph R Scott Jr 

"The Weight of Whiteness" is a memoir, in poetry form...Deeply personal, the poems examine the author’s thoughts and feelings as family and others react to her interracial marriage in 1966, the year before the United States Supreme Court overturned as unconstitutional sixteen states’ laws prohibiting miscegenation.

Written with the sensibility of an anthropologist, the poems reveal the nuances of living in an interracial family in the 1960s and 1970s. They describe activities such as going to the beauty shop, driving, naming and nursing a baby, going to the park or church, and seeking health care.

Written in a direct, spare style, "The Weight of Whiteness" illuminates the loneliness of the author’s struggle for identity and dignity in a world lived between— and beyond black and white.

Interspersed throughout the book are poems written in response to select paintings and sculptures by visual artists in other periods and cultures.

These ekphrastic poems place the personal experiences of the author within broader historical contexts of loss, struggle, and hope.



We are very fortunate that Caroline has donated a pdf versions of a number of her books to the Haiku Foundation's digital library including:

The Clock Chimes 
Haiku & Senryu Poems 
(Wellington Press, Inc. 2003)


Tigers, Temples and Marigolds  
Haiku and Haibun Poems 


Popular Posts