Norah Hanson was born in Hull, 1937, and has been a proud resident ever since. She spent her working life teaching in secondary schools, then turned to writing after her retirement in 1996. Widowed in 1994, she is nonetheless not short of company – she has six children, seventeen grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Her poetry has been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, featured on BBC Radio 4, and published in numerous magazines and anthologies. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Love Letters & Children’s Drawings (2011), Under a Holderness Sky (2013) and Sparks (2016), all published by Valley Press.
One of Hull’s most important modern-day poets, Norah Hanson has been delighting readers for decades with her honest, entertaining and inventive writing. Whether reflecting on the past, through derelict landmarks and absent friends, confronting present-day ‘domestic dilemmas’ with wit and good-humour, or looking to the future through the eyes (and extraordinary energies) of her grandchildren, Love Letters & Children's Drawings is poetry at its very best – insightful, compelling, and essential.
"Speaks to the reader's heart ... pure, practical and prophetic. A true poet."
— Deirdre McGarry
"Norah manages - perhaps because this book distils a lifetime of writing – to bring before us the tragedy of the human condition, making it sound beautiful and worth living through."
— Paul Sutherland
"Intelligent, compassionate and humane ... a treasure trove."
— Helen Burke
The poem 'Grafters' from this collection was chosen by Hollie McNish for BBC Radio 4's 'Poetry Please' (28th Jan edition), discussion and reading available to listen here (sometimes!) (5 mins 45 secs in). You can listen to Norah read the poem herself here.
Sparks is the third collection of passionate, poignant poetry from much-loved Hull-based writer Norah Hanson. The fiery wit and hard-won wisdom that characterised her previous collections are here, intact, with a new level of clarity and purpose adding weight to the words – without losing the warmth, wonder, and laugh-out-loud observational skills that have won Norah an army of readers across the world.
Six-times a great-grandmother, the poet’s life experience shines through each page; shedding light on triumphs and struggles past, illuminating our troubled (and frequently ridiculous) present, and nodding towards sources of hope for the future.
The ‘sparks’ are cast into the night sky from a VE day bonfire, they ‘dance in the spaces between solid matter’, and they are the poems themselves, flashes of brilliance to be cherished, read, and re-read for decades to come.
Norah Hanson’s much-anticipated second collection of poetry picks up where her first left off; returning to the streets of her native Hull, past and present, to look seventy years of history – and the human condition – squarely in the eye, unflinching, but never losing sight of the warmth and humour that infuses all her work.
Norah paints with the varied colours of life itself, displaying a mastery of emotional range that few can match; where moments of heart-aching poignancy are quickly followed by sparks of knowing, perfectly-aimed wit. If this book catches you in the right mood, you’ll shed tears at both, and feel much better for it.
"Norah manages to bring before us the tragedy of the human condition, making it sound beautiful and worth living through."
— Paul Sutherland
"Norah Hanson’s work is a real one-off ... intelligent, compassionate and humane."
— Helen Burke
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