Author: Bernard M Jackson

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Tuesday, April 29th, 2008 at 10:59 am
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Book Reviews

Lanterns and Flowers

The much-travelled, well-versed Scottish poet, Norman Bissett, could most assuredly claim that the world is his oyster but then, extending this analogy even further, there are many ‘pearls’ to be discovered in his most recent collection, Lanterns and Flowers.

Some of Norman’s earlier poetry creations have, of course, featured from time to time in Quantum Leap and have invariably attained high commendation in ongoing poetry competitions. Norman has been wholly committed to his writing since he retired from the British Council in 1995, after 30 years spent mainly abroad. Since then, he has been making quite a name for himself, having earlier published 6 distinctive, highly acclaimed collections. Not only that, but he is currently President of Edinburgh’s pritistgious Writers’ Club; testimony indeed to his integrity and powers of penmanship.

Lanterns and Flowers offers an eclectic mix of subjects and styles; the writer having waived aside the option to compartmentalise his delightful assortment of poems; instead the reader can expect, at any point, to alight upon the unexpected: poems short or long, poems exemplifying various poetry forms, descriptive gems, retrospective reflection and verses rich in wit and down to earth, tongue in cheek good humour.

A quick age comparison reveals Norman to be a year younger than myself and certainly old enough to remember clearly those daunting, turbulent years of the Second World War and beyond:

The Great War hovering like a mustard cloud,

a methane miasma, we were all ready

for Adolf’s gas attack, awaiting Götterdämmerung

without fuss – resigned, good humoured,

remarkably united, undeniably nervous.

Gas Attack

Those were the days of uncertainty and of the constant cracle of the family wireless set; and how well Norman has recalled his wartime memories in a number of such poems generously garnished with evocative, often detailed, observation. Readers will not doubt be agreeably surprised to find several mischievous limericks nestling amongst this writer’s more finely tuned work, a salient reminder that underneath that mantle of literary excellence, there lurks a droll and, at times, rather quirky sense of humour.

A fair proportion of Norman’s poems are purely descriptive, inspired by his great love of flowers, trees and birds. There is, in fact, a considerable range of flora so featured and thus superbly described. And there are love poems too – cheery poems to which we can each of us relate in some measure.

While reading Lanterns and Flowers, I found myself constantly exclaiming “Hey, listen to this one!” A first-calss, broadly based collection with universal appeal. Well worth the £7 purchase price.

Lanterns and Flowers is available from Amazon, or send a cheque payable to Norman Bissett to Norman Bissett, 32 Polwarth Terrace, Edinburgh EH11 1LX.

Review first published in Quantum Leap.

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