Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Book Review: 'EMPTINESS LEERS' by Jeanette Sobey


Australian Poet Jeanette Sobey has connections with the written word and the passions within those words through an extensive amount of academia. Beginning with a Bachelor of Business (law, management, information systems) following which she worked in business administration roles, she maintained her need for the arts while composing poetry and participating in theater. Now she has added a BA in Communication and Special Sequence in Writing and psychology, graduating with honors from Monash University, followed by achieving an MA in writing and literature from Deakin University. Her theater experience, especially improvisational theater which is her forte, marries with her skills in structured poetry and the result is a mastery of form that in Jeannette's case allows her passion more freedom to fly and be universal.

EMPTINESS LEERS is a collection of Sonnets, Coronas and Sestinas - structural forms of poetry that Jeanette explains well at the beginning of the book - a section that distills the eloquence of her selections. ‘I love to write about contemporary matters in traditional formats of the sonnet, sestina and corona. Although, when I think about it, the subjects are more eternal and universal, than contemporary. The hopes, dreams, disappointments, and fragility of life that is the human condition, were ever thus and ever will be. I like the rhythm of iambic pentameter beat of the traditional sonnet, that can be heard when sonnets are read aloud. Poetry, I believe, always needs to be read aloud. Its musical qualities differentiate it from prose. I also enjoy the Sestinas complex word ordering of six words. Rather than restricting creativity, it often leads one to discover a new twist in the theme and propels the creativity process forward.’

An example of a Sestina is offered here:

SESTINA 235: OBSERVATIONS
Some lives seem blessed, tho’ dying e’er for love
Recluse, while pale, possesses shy beauty
The bold, the brave, may wish to hide in cloaks
While millions masquerade wearing brash masks
Countless legs unable move to music
Inside, their hearts and minds, enact the dance

You looked at me, your eyes performed a dance
I felt the vibes, tingled, was stirred by love
Your prose unsettled; I longed for music
A background for an affair, for beauty!
But fear crept in, offered our hearts two masks
And words we spoke we wore like armoured cloaks

Too wary were we, to remove the cloaks
Two, repeating the steps of solo dance
Eternal guests at Ball of Tragic Masks
Wearing another’s face; searching for love
Feeling ugly, while dying for beauty;
Notes of truth would make the sweetest music

Tis sad the lies seem set to drown music
They cast their shadows, wearing blackest cloaks
Delete or blot from sight, shining beauty
Condemn or banish ever, song and dance
While secretly, souls yearn ever for love
Who will be the first to remove their masks?

What strange world to see, one devoid the masks
Uncensored sights and sounds, richest music
Imaginings set free at door of love
And bodies, souls, naked, without those cloaks
Create, perform, an earthly, primal dance
A vision that blind can see: truth’s beauty

Dare we lift this veil that covers beauty?
Come out of shadows cast by futile masks?
Strike up the band, link hearts and hands, and dance?
Or stay hidden, alone, with no music
For we do love to wear comfortable cloaks
Lest we suffer the pains of life and love

Oh long may live the brave and dance of love
And those who dare to shed the masks and cloaks
For they will know, truth’s beauty and music

The lady knows her forms and obeys the laws of the poetic designations she has studied well. But the real joy is that form does not destroy function: her poems are luxurious travels into the realms of all manner of love - lust, longing, loss, pain and bliss. She embraces it all is this memorable collection. Grady Harp, August 17



Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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