Book Reviews

 

CLARION REVIEW

Late Starter

Robert Ferguson
AuthorHouse UK (Apr 25, 2018)
Softcover $14.99 (140pp)
978-1-5462-8967-8

Late Starter is a whimsical poetry collection whose pieces are eclectic and unique.

Robert Ferguson’s Late Starter is an intensely emotional and sometimes playful poetry collection that moves from dark and stormy nights on the sea to nostalgic ballads of picnics with lovers.

The collection opens with a useful introduction that clarifies its purpose and origins. Its poems are organized clearly by subject matter, starting with “Red Flares and Other Events,” a section focused on actions, moments, and the emotions they elicited. The collection ends with more ambiguously styled, lyrical poems in “Soul Poems,” which present matters of soul and faith, mostly from a Christian perspective.

The poems vary in length and style and are connected by their cadences and flow. Some are conversational in format—some to awkward degrees—while others are more lyrical and rhythmic. Some are ballads; others are short, quippy, single-stanza poems. Near the beginning, the poems have a near magical quality, achieving eeriness and establishing atmospheres through illustrations of empty landscapes, woodland forests, deserts, valleys, and mountains. Naturalistic lines are a collection highlight:

And rain, and the gale blowing fit to bust
Through the cliff itself around the bay.

By “Characters Known and Unknown,” the collection’s third section, the poems become less abstract, drawing apparent influence from classical English poetry. Such later poems aim for realism and tell complete, clearly rendered, observant stories without hidden messages, as with “Valentine for a Long Standing Relationship,” which muses about how the poet might see himself:

We strolled the length of Lovers’ Lane,
We cuddled by the river.
Now when you reach your hand to me
I fear what you’ll deliver.

The collection’s strongest poems, including “Red Flares” and “School Matinee,” are stylistically abstruse but emotional, bringing forward much sentiment and passion with their lines. These particular poems forgo the rhythmic and rhyming characteristics of other poems in the collection, like “Weekend Neighbours.” They still focus on nature and events, but their lines are more fervidly lyrical and detailed, capturing emotions and sensations, love and loss, darkness and light, whimsy and foolishness.

By “Characters Known and Unknown,” the collection loses its concrete aspects, becomes less clearly rhythmic, and moves toward harsher, more jolting lines. Its poems feel less free and fit oddly together.

Late Starter is a whimsical poetry collection whose diverse topics move from love and loss to nature and history lessons, gathering pieces that are eclectic and unique.

 

HANNAH WILLIAMS (August 16, 2018)
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book and paid a small fee to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. Foreword Reviews and Clarion Reviews make no guarantee that the author will receive a positive review. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

 

PACIFIC BOOK REVIEW

Title: Late Starter
Author: Robert Ferguson
Publisher: AuthorHouseUK
ISBN: 978-1-5462-8966-1
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 140
Reviewed by: Marsh Ferrell

Pacific Book Review Star
Awarded to Books of Excellent Merit

 

 

 

Poetry is often compared to music, as most styles of each are enjoyable, yet some appeal to people more than others and become much more memorable and inspiring. Author and poet Robert Ferguson has assembled a collection of his poems which I have found to be some of the most enjoyable, memorable and entertaining work within the genre. More so than simply music, so to speak, Ferguson creates vivid pictures, original imagery, some of his poems can seem as if they are an animation while others transport readers to far off places within the first line of prose.

His collection is titled Late Starter, as he explains in his introduction are grouped into four categories written at various points in his past. He shows his distinctive English upbringing with his Englishman’s point of view. In one poem, titled “Counselor Carter,” he brings to life a rather large, slovenly man that has a dedicated seat in a pub. When he sits down his beer is instantly brought to him, and with seemingly large gulps he polishes it off when his second brew is served. To the observer, his scruffy tattered clothing would make the impression of being a simpleton, yet readers learn he is the mayor and a very effective one at that. Each of his poems are heavily laden in visual descriptions and bring imagery to the readers’ mind in much of the storyline. In “My Grandpa’s Beard” he remarks that when his Grandpa needed to tidy up to begin a job and shave his beard, it made him look boring, but ultimately the white curls grew back under his chin. As a young kid he asked his Grandpa if it hurt when it grew back? In “Fireworks” his use of onomatopoeia has some new sounds, such as “Kerflub” – I was familiar with kerpluk but this made me smile. Ferguson’s poem to a Valentine changed his style to having a rhyme, beat and foot of classical poetry, demonstrating his skills of wordsmithing.

My favorite section is “Cats & Other Creatures” where his personification of the feline brings humor and adornment to all cat lovers. His poem observing a cat sleeping with the animal’s twitching, changes to its breathing and subtle movements reveal the cat’s dreaming which only a cat-lover can imagine. If I had to pick my favorite, it would be “Steps.” In this poem he opens by saying, “If I were not a man, I’d be a gull, with wide, broad wings to sit upon the wind and fly above the sea in lapping turns observing gently waves…” I agree as I never thought what other creature I’d like to be, but he now convinced me that it would be a seagull.

While the beginning sections are noticeably absent of theological references and thoughts of God, he makes up for it near the end. In “The Solution Was There All The Time!” he writes about stress, marital breakdowns, numerology, psychology and with a repeating solution as saying, “Nobody’s thinking of God.” This poem can be put to music and used as a Hymn in a choir group.

 

The US Review of Books

 

Late Starter
by Robert Ferguson
AuthorHouse UK

book review by Dylan Ward

“Will they have time to enjoy a brief journey,
Imaginatively,
And return reluctantly, as I did,
At the call of a gentle friend?”

In what Ferguson calls “a picture book in words,” his new collection of poems is replete with vivid imagery, diction, and musical rhythm that appreciates the wonders and mysteries of life. They draw upon the influences of his upbringing, musical training, and fondness for classical English poetry. He touches upon fundamental subjects and ruminates on matters of world events, travel, theology, nature, and humanity.

Broken into four sections, Ferguson provides an interpretation for each in his introduction, appropriately piecing together related poems within each section. Notable poems include “Sequential Life,” which remarks on the changing seasons and cycle of life. “Caravaggio” observes the art and tumultuous life of the revered painter. “The Visiting Dragon” is a haunting speculation of the comings and goings of a mythical creature. “Doubt and Faith” ponders the juxtapositions of disbeliefs and beliefs of key figures in the Bible. Finally, “And Next..?” is a lament on the insecurity we live within a post-9/11 world.

These writings demonstrate a wide range of keen observations by the poet. They are nostalgic and personal, with some that are culled from the memories of others. All of them convey emotions and truths that will impact the reader in some way. While Ferguson admits that poetry is written for personal reasons, he also notes the “innately human need to communicate.” Here, he communicates from a life of rich experiences, both sad and joyous, with a seasoned voice that captivates, and at times challenges, the reader. It will leave you remembering them long after you finish.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

 

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This review was written by a professional book reviewer with no guarantee that it would receive a positive rating. Some authors pay a small fee to have a book reviewed, while others do not. All reviews are approximately half summary and half criticism. The US Review of Books is dedicated to providing fair and honest coverage to all books.