Globe Columnist Peter Grant talks to celebrated poet Brian Patten about the rhyme and reason of his latest collection

THE old adage ‘you should never judge a book by its cover’ cannot be said of a brand new poetry collection.

The Book of Upside Down Thinking is a striking publication - both inside and out.

It will make you smile, reflect and laugh-out-loud at the sheer simplicity and economy of words that speak volumes.

Brian’s latest anthology is a departure for the Bootle-born, multi-award-winning writer.

The one-time journalist co-wrote the best-selling Mersey Sound anthology in 1967 with Roger Cough and Adrian Henri.

He continues to perform sell-out solo readings and occasional shows with Roger.

Last year they celebrated 50 years since the Mersey Sound made waves.

Brian, 72, who now lives in Devon, is currently enjoying a well-earned break in Greece.

But he took time off to talk to the Globe.

He said: "I compiled the book over a period of time collecting them along the way.

"I completed it one winter in Morocco in one big rush like a long lunch.

"It has been inspired by 11th century Middle Eastern folk stories.

"Little bits of wisdom that are, I feel, timeless.

"I would hear them from people such as taxi drivers and I wanted to make them accessible to more people.

"The book features a character – who is not that well known in Europe. In Turkey he goes by the name of Nasrudin."

Brian has been inspired to put them into rhyme - many with very funny, philosophical messages what he calls "wonderful, surreal logic."

He has performed a few on readings - most notably at a memorable rare performance at Bromborough Library - when he was asked by fans when he would be writing more.

He says, with a chuckle, that he wants to "rattle the cage of conventional thinking by showing the world from a different perspective."

The 72 poems range from the short at just two lines to the longest at 20 lines.

But every one has something meaningful to say like the teachings of Confucius or Aseop's Fables.

So I asked Brian to pick out one from his many favourites to give Globe readers a taste.

Here is: "Are you across the river or am I?"

I was walking along a river bank.

A man on the other side shouted: "how do I get across?"

"You are across," I replied.

Brian says he is very pleased with the way the book looks, too.

"It features a lot of artwork styled on Moroccan tiles.

"They sit very well with the poems."

Brian says he hopes to do a reading and book-signing session later this year in New Brighton.

It is a work he is particularly proud off and is delighted that people are now sending it to each other – poetry lovers and non poetry readers.

They certainly make thought-provoking gifts.

It is indeed a poetry book with a difference.

What else would you expect from the man who in 1985 wrote the best-selling children's book Gargling with Jelly?

Last words go to Brian: "These tales have travelled through time unscathed because they address the eternal conflicts, hopes and follies of human kind.

"Occasionally, I've used them as jumping–off places and given them a different, more Western twist.

"Others are originals, but could not have existed without Nazrudin's inspiration."

The Book of Upside, published by ForgetMeNotBooks (£9.99), is available from Literally Bookshop in New Brighton.

More details from