Songs for Solo Voice
James R. Whitley
Red Mountain Press (2021)
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (07/2021)
“Songs for Solo Voice,” by James R. Whitley is less than seventy pages, but I would not call it a fast read because each work of poetry leads to contemplation. It begins with the cover, which is a picture of a still body of water with dark clouds casting shadows on it. The photograph is peaceful, yet it makes me contemplate about still waters running deep. The clouds also have the sun trying to break through, just as our souls try to break through darkness when emerging from trying times. I feel that the cover photograph is a perfect representation of the beautiful, thought provoking, poignant works that follow.
I found myself relating mostly to the writings about relationships, or rather relationships ending. Whitely does an amazing job of conveying depth and complexity in his poems. While his words flow, sometimes he directs them down into whirlpools where the reader can feel the despair as the words pull them downward into the darkness of a difficult time on which he is reflecting.
His poetry evokes sensations. I could feel the sweltering desert heat in his poem about the Sonoran Desert. I could see the colorful plants, hear the cicadas, and feel the thirst coming from the creatures in the hot desert sun. My favorite relationship poem was “Stop Me if You Think.” My favorite line, “… I’ve begun adding salt and lemon to my morning coffee, so as not to lose my taste for you completely.” In “Another Raven-Haired Imbroglio,” I had to look up what the word imbroglio means! It was an unfamiliar word to me, for which I now know I could have used to refer to many of the painful and embarrassing events that have taken place in my life.
“Songs for Solo Voice,” is a beautifully composed collection of poetry written by a very talented award-winning author. Readers who enjoy contemplative works will enjoy his work. I enjoyed being able to reflect and relate to each piece.