The Seasons Suite

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By RJ Sobel

Just about everyone can learn to play the piano, but not everyone is a musician. And most of us can write verse, but few of us can boast that we are poets. RJ Sobel can claim that title without reservation.

“The Seasons Suite” comes in four slim volumes. Thematically, the collection could have come in one volume, but the physical separation of the books helps to clarify the mood of each ‘Season’. I wondered, as I opened my first volume, what another person in another place would have chosen. “Winter” seemed right for me, because that is the season nearest to my time in life, and I found the poems in this volume to be the most affecting.

However, there are powerful poems in the three other volumes. “Fall”, for example, offers the jarring, “The Modern Way”: “We spent our toll….For unslakeable consumption…”  And then, “Spring” stirs with, “Business Lunch, Ballad of Malagusta Street”. In this poem, we are manipulated, skillfully, to a certain soft response. A less subtle writer might have overplayed, and tried to wring pathos from this street drama. But Mr. Sobel, in settling for less, gets more. I returned, several times, to read the poem, and will no doubt return again.

Many of the poems in the collection deal with a relationship and its evolution over time. The final poem in “Winter’, entitled “Repose”, draws on the sense of privilege and fragility the aging feel: “I wait with you in quiet astonishment for yet perchance another year.” Time is allotted, whimsically, and the poet marvels that he is among the lucky to survive the years, and, moreover, to share that survival with another.

While the four volumes in “The Seasons Suite” may be viewed as individual chap books, I received them from the author as a box set and it is as a set that I have read them. My inclination is to recommend that the books be considered together because they complement each other.

RJ Sobel’s “The Seasons Suite” is a worthy collection of poetry. I highly recommend it.

A. G. Moore 11/2016

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