The very title ‘Fledgling’ of the book by Graham Vivian Lancaster, the poet from East London (South Africa) suggests the tiny bird’s emotive flight in the sky of poetry, that is full of zeal and vigour of expression of a bird-like tiny and delicate feelings woven in the chaplet of one hundred and twenty five poems of varied hues and aroma.
Graham Vivian Lancaster is a versatile and prolific pen. He is widely published and decorated with many prestigious awards and honours. He has written novels, poetry, humour, adventures and self-help books and the present collection is an additional attempt of the poet in the field of poetry.
The present collection under review dedicated to Sydney Jade Lancaster carries 56 poems (though on the blurb it is mentioned that the book carries 125 poems) of mixed taste and flavor and quenches the poetic thirst of good poetry the reader on one hand, as well as adds our thirst for craving for more from the poet on the other. The poems, in this way, capture not only our senses but also the soul. Here another question arises in us, what the poet especially wishes to confer in these poems. It we take notice of the first and title poem of the poet, we will definitely get the fittest reply when he asserts:
I give you my shoes,
But I cannot give you my feet, (1)
Despite giving ‘All’ ‘to ease’ the ‘Way/ through this troubled life’ or say after conferring an understanding and an infant to lead life ideally, the poet says: ‘Now, without my studying hand/ it is time for you to walk alone.’ One can easily know that the poet is more prone to cultivate wisdom and create ‘enlightenment’ through his poetry, than to idle away time in preaching morals or sermons.
The poems of the collection are chiefly romantic, pictorial, nostalgic, passionate and full of life’s liveliness. One can discern it as: ‘But the trust in your eyes/ an eternal bond/ Greater than gratitude/ Greater than a rubber nose/ It was-life’.
But a number of the poems are the based on his memories of the past which are arisen out of his recollections of bygone days. Poems like ‘Big League,’ ‘Last Night,’ ‘Colours,’ ‘Guoveia’s Bakery,’ ‘Poplar Street’ and ‘Butterflies’ have personal note while the poems like- ‘Durban 1983,’ and ‘Matanisa 2008’ / ‘Mapatanisa 2007,’ have passionate feelings for Africa. But similarly the poems- ‘Wings,’ ‘Discarded,’ ‘Where Doves Drink,’ ‘The Traveller,’ ‘She,’ ‘Respect,’ ‘Nature,’ and ‘Brush Flowers’ are picturesque and lively description of Nature. Besides the poems like ‘Last Night,’ ‘She,’ ‘Meaning’ and ‘Lie with me’ have romantic element particularly. A fine metaphoric expression is noticeable here: she is the different seasons / in all moods/ she is the freshness of the spring/ Budding exiting new life/ she is the warmth of summer/ the happy sunflower of the sun—– (26)
Or at another place the romantic note coupled with memories and experiences of past days, can be seen as follows: I saw you last night, sitting at the bar, / Running long fingers through……………………..
The poet’s memories are mingled with pathos and pleasures and are enlivened by the poet by the tools of conversation or romance. ‘Big League’ can be glanced in this connection in which the poet remembers his ‘Metalic blue Hercules’ his bicycle accident and especially the tender and loving attitude of his father that creates a peculiar feeling mixed with pathos when the poet says (to his father): You patched my grazes and my ego/Repaired my brand new broken cycle/ Calmed my distress soothed my pain/Told me it was only a bicycle/—— as I watched your anguish/ Knew you were crying inside, with your only child (7)
The memories of the past haunt him even in the present so he adds: Still now, it saddens me, perhaps more, in a mourning way/ With children of my own, understanding/ You were so proud/ To get me what you couldn’t have (7)
The poems of the collection serve the purposes of both the critics and a common reader, for a common reader it is a repertoire of joy and Ananda and for a critic it creates new opportunities of recensions. One who wishes to read the poetry of Lancaster has be more ready to plough deep to know the quintessence, the seed and the real meaning of his works. His poetry is the inseparable slice of life, so it tickles our fancy as well as brings us back to the solid ground of reality after an ecstatic flight of imagination. His poems, therefore, can be regarded as the varied expressions of passionate feelings, moving, profound, human and simple to grasp. Skillful craftsmanship of the poet makes the simple events of everyday life, an everlasting feeling.
The language and diction of the poet is simple and the free verse and justifies the old adage ‘poetry is best words in best order.’ The choice of words, phrases and idea become exemplary when the poet applies his creative genius in expressing his own self. Thus, it is well-admitted reality after the perusal of these poems that the book has achieved what it wishes to and the poet has attained a grand success in his creative endeavour with the assistance of poets Printery, the publisher (Amitabh Mitra who is also a versatile poet and editor) and if it is circulated among sincere critics of poetry, it will surely gain ground and receive eulogy.