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by Robert Johnson 

Robert Johnson’s voice resonates like a wise old teacher sharing his simple, worldly wisdom. He speaks about the natural world, the preciousness of life, and about innocence, but also about injustice, loss, human frailties, and the menace of terrorism, withholding nothing.

Like Johnson’s poetry, Virginia’s Northern Neck and the rivers that run through it are abundant with a primitive, yet refined beauty, and being there inspires quiet comfort. More than any other state of mind, this contentedness defines Sunset Sonata.

In spite of global threats, cynicism, loss, and the uncertainty and brevity of life, one can find nourishment and be restored by the words of poets like Robert Johnson who can find beauty and hope in the world.

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Meet the Author

Robert Johnson is a professor of justice, law and society at American University. He is the author of two original collections of poems—Poetic Justice: Reflections on the Big House, the Death House, and the American Way of Justice, winner of the L.I.F.E. Award from WilloTrees Press; and Burnt Offerings: Poems on Crime and Punishment.

His poems and stories have appeared in Admit2, The American Review, Black Bear
Review, The National Catholic Reporter, Carnelian, CMC (Crime Media Culture), Dan River Anthology, JMWW, Lifelines, Mannequin Envy, Pleasant Living magazine, Tacenda Literary Magazine and Wild Violet.

His short story, “The Practice of Killing,” won the Wild Violet Fiction Contest for 2003. Other works of fiction include Justice Follies: Parody from Planet Prison and The Crying Wall. Johnson’s best-known work of social science—Death Work: A Study of the Modern Execution Process—won the Outstanding Book Award of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences.

Press Kit


Formats: Paperback

Pages: 96

ISBN PB: 978-1-883911-82-9

Release Date: 01/01/2009


“. . .Johnson is professor and poet, a perfect position from which to teach and delight his audience, thus satisfying Sidney’s mandate to a poet to be the ‘first light-giver.’ In this volume, Johnson’s ability to bring the light has never been stronger or
more effective.”
—Susan Nagelsen, author of Exiled Voices: Portals of Discovery (New England College Press)

“Sunset Sonata . . .is indeed a sonata with both tonic and dominant keys demonstrating a virtuosity of impressive range and beauty. . . Could his poems be set to music, we would hear the magic of Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata.”
—Charles V. Huckelbury, author of several short stories; his poetry has been featured in the Northern New England Review.

“The poems in Robert Johnson’s Sunset Sonata connect like a string of pearls, capturing his religious and philosophical journey through loss and love, confusion and understanding. Sunset Sonata is an innovative and at times highly personal
collection of poems that forces the reader to stop and think about the most basic dimensions of life. Johnson presents his readers with a fresh voice, and this collection will surely surprise and touch the reader to the very core.”
—Thais Miller, author of The Price is Wrong: A Play in One Act with Vignettes, winner of the 2007 Tacenda Literary Award for Best Play; and Our Machinery (Brown Paper Publishing)

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