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Slate, Sea and Sky [Hardcover]

Norman Bissell , Oscar Marzaroli
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Jan 2008
This striking combination of poems and photography creates a remarkable new soundscape and vision of Glasgow and of a land far beyond its crowded streets. From the screech of buses to the crash of waves on a windswept Hebridean shore, the poems take us on a journey from the city to an island, between two very different worlds. Norman Bissell's evocative snapshots of people and places are beautifully illuminated by Oscar Marzaroli's stunning photographs. Some shown here for the first time, these brilliantly capture a changing Scotland in shade and light.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 114 pages
  • Publisher: Luath Press Ltd (4 Jan 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1906307164
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906307165
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 13.8 x 1.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,031,675 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


When I first read Norman Bissell's poems, one ordinarily harassed day in Glasgow, one of his meditations on city life made me laugh so much that I wrote it on a post-it note and stuck it to my wall. His poems are full of such lines: a calm voice that I want to carry away and keep in my mind's ear. I loved the place the poems took me to. Here is the voice of a poet who is grounded in place, at home in the world. --GERRIE FELLOWS, author of four poetry collections.

There is lovely work here, limpid and light, a careful simplicity of line, open to the voices of the city and the calm, restorative spaces of nature. --CATHERINE LOCKERBIE, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival

On his journey Norman Bissell takes a clear-eyed look at the world around us; celebrating people - and elements, rocks and minerals, birds, hills and waters as living things - with integrity, passion and compassion. His life is laid open for us with honesty, shedding light on what it is to be human in the search for what is. --GERRY LOOSE, Scottish Arts Council Creative Scotland Award winning poet

About the Author

Norman Bissell became principal teacher of history at Braidhurst High School in Motherwell after obtaining an MA (Honours) degree in philosophy and history from the University of Glasgow. He was formerly a member of the Scottish Examination Board history panel and until recently an Area Officer of the Educational Institute of Scotland. His first poetry collection Slate, Sea and Skyfeatures poems written in his native Glasgow and on the Isle of Luing in Argyll, where he now lives. His interest in the need for radical cultural renewal prompted him to found and lead the Open World Poetics group from 1989 until 1999 and to become director of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics from 2002 until the present.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A life affirming journey in poetry 17 Feb 2008
The beauty of this book is that its poems tell us what it feels like to live in both urban and rural Scotland today and its photographs work with the words in ways that add something special to both. A prose poem at the start illustrates its central theme that life is a journey, the journey of a river that eventually runs into the sea, and we follow the author's own journey from his native Glasgow via other parts of Scotland to the Hebridean Isle of Luing where he now lives.

The early poems set in Glasgow really catch the feel of the city, its noisy streets and builders' hammers, the faces of women in a bus queue outside the bingo, and hilarity in their patter and in the surreal flight over Kelvingrove Park of `the most enormous ears you have ever seen'. Oscar Marzaroli is renowned for his iconic photographs of changing Glasgow and its people in the 1960s and 70s and several are included here, including one of Gorbals children caught playing on a building site and others in school which beautifully complement a poem about `the opening of minds' and teachers who `live only in the hearts and minds of the young'.

Some of Bissell's poems deal with the tricky business of how an artist tries to convey what is around him or her, whether on canvas, film or in words, and there are also lovely meditations about life on a slate island with its lichen circles, mackerel skies, diving dolphins and cavorting stoats. Here the poet feels as if he has come home and conjures up vivid pictures of the west coast where the light and the weather is forever changing and people have learnt to live with it. Here too Marzaroli's wonderful landscapes and seascapes drawn from all over Scotland come into their own.

This beautifully produced hardback would make a lovely gift for anyone who appreciates the depth of feelings that both poet and photographer share for city, people, wildlife and remote places.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Slate, Sea and Sky 9 Feb 2008
By Dubh
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Somewhat disappointing, I got this mainly for the photography of Oscar Marzaroli and that has been badly let down by being printed on light uncoated paper rather than a decent coated stock. Not the best idea when presenting photographs as the pictures are very flat. Not the printers fault, but whoever decided to save a few pennies in the production costs by using cheaper stock. If I had picked this up to look at in a book store it would not have made it to the till. I also felt that the poetry verses did not gel with the (small) pictures.
I may have liked it more if it was in a larger format and printed on coated stock such as with "Shades of Scotland 1956-1988" which shows off Marzarolis work to a far better extent.
If you like Bissells poetry this may be for you, as a book of poetry with photographs. I have perhaps lifted it for the wrong reasons buying it as a book of photographs with poetry.
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