Sunday, December 11, 2022

cover illustration by Claire Fines (drawn in grade two when she was seven)

Whether it be the whirling motion of a mesmerizing Sufi dance, the measured movement of a waltz or a polka, or the restrained abandon of a Virginia reel, PJ Thomas sets her sites upon a form of “ferocious dancing” that choreographs and gesticulates through vivid, striking images that gives her new collection Waves a kind of eloquent, homespun surrealism that constructs poetic language out of everyday objects and occurrences.

An anthropomorphic element surfaces at one point when fruit and vegetable 

become simmering enlivened symbols that glide out of the poet’s consciousness 

and create sharp, distinct ways of seeing the commonplace as both startling and 

joyfully unsettling. Peaches, tomatoes, cracked peppercorn, crickets and ducks join 

with mahogany rails, cut marble, aloe vera, and potted tropical plants that “festoon 

the dining room / creating candour.” 

Ultimately the reader, accompanied by these mesmerizing inanimate things & beings, takes a journey through this object laden landscape that addresses layers of friendship, fruition, and the fear of future isolation where “everybody weeps differently” - both in and out of enforced and re-enforced solitude, both remote and intimate. It is an environment of surprising force and comfort that simultaneously calms and disrupts. PJ’s words embody varied and moving ‘waves’ of meditation. She creates movement and depth of emotion as witness to the intricacies of landscape - “fruit-bearing cherry trees, ginseng growing wild, and prickly pear mixed with the stand of oaks” as well as the broad, compassionate, searching swaths of human interaction, questioning, and evolving nature. 

 * Rick Fines - 'Solar Powered Too'  Juno nominee for best blues album, 2021

And a wonderful moment in the frequent & constant commingling of poetry and music when we learn  that acclaimed Peterborough musician Rick Fines adapted one of the poems from the collection for his Juno nominated blues album.
Thomas's poem, Fundamental Nature, provides a perfect combination of lyric poetic prose for what has been described as the "warm-hearted blues, juke joint folk, and dockside soul" that Fines' music embodies.

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