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by PJ Thomas

Rating: *****

Waves is the second collection of poetry from Canadian poet, PJ Thomas. As the title would suggest, the movement, influence, and power of water in all its literal, figurative, and metaphorical guises form a strong, foundational theme for many of the poems.

Thomas’ poetry is rich and immersive both in imagery and emotion, accepting and celebrating the natural world’s force and strength with us as scintillas by comparison to its infinite wonder, mystery, and beauty.

The collection is extensive but the poems are succinct and approachable yet quietly breathtaking in their wistful insight and poignancy. Although there is a very personal voice to her poetry, Thomas has clearly considered her audience and the poems have a wide, objective net in which to capture the majority of readers.

There is a plaintive note of regret through some verses but this does not render them depressing or elegiac, far from it. Most in the collection are retrospective contemplations and appreciations of life with its intimacies and experiences combined with a serene if grudging acceptance of our ultimately diminishing place in the cosmos.

Human transience is just that, her poems reflect, and there is very little we can do about it, even if we do feel unbearably sad. The flourishing abundance, endurance, and unpredictability of nature and the elements will provide quiet fulfillment, however fleeting, to those that come after us as it did to those who came before, and we should embrace it while we can.

Technically, Thomas’ poems are polished and accomplished. In the main, there is no traditional rhyme scheme as such, but eye rhymes, wordplay, and similarity ensure the collection scans comfortably.

The tempo and rhythm are reminiscent of the fluid ebb and flow of the ocean, words turn and return to each other, bubbling up and running on, giving the impression of an organic, evolving body but, in actuality, being quite tightly structured.

Thomas can encapsulate in one, simple line, the profoundly bittersweet agony and ecstasy of existence. Indeed, there is a simplicity to how her poems read, which is deceptively clever and also very lovely.

Notwithstanding, there are poems that riff more on the seemingly mundane and these have a whisper of jaunty humor about them. “Social Worker” and “You in the Room” are good examples of this, although they still vibrate with the pathos of the human condition and I especially liked the subversion of “The Springtime Weather”.

Waves is an absorbing, accessible, and evocative collection; vivid, beguiling, and beautifully captivating. Highly recommended.

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