Gentry Thomason’s Existential Ruminations is a collection of “poemographs,” which he explains are “attempts to articulate my thoughts in some rhythmical manner that approximate [sic] recognizable ordinary speech.” He shares that he does not “typically employ poetic artifice in these poemographs” and that they are 14 lines long, a container which he “absorbed from the English sonnet form” as an apt amount of space for the expression of most ideas.
The collection is separated into five main sections titled “Existence and Eternity,” “Truth and Reality,” “God, Religion, and the Supernatural,” “Self and Others,” “Character, Love and Vision,” plus a “Postscript” and then some lists and miscellany.
The poemographs are contemplative, as in “Feelings (and Words),” which begins: “Which comes first: feelings or words?” and often moralistic, as in “Forever (question),” which begins: “What is God doing/ with the daily thousands/ who enter into death/ with questionable, erroneous behaviors/ that are ostensibly unsound/ and lacking wholesome morality?”
One of the most interesting poemographs relates three “traumatic afflictions” that resulted in hospitalizations. During the last hospitalization, the narrator “heard a Voice/ that frightened [him] into a serious mending/ of [his] waywardness and obdurate unbelief.” Then the narrator goes to Confession and is “struck with spiritual lightning” and experiences physical transportation “traversing four miles in under three seconds,” and knows that “Only God could engineer such Astonishment.” That piece then colors the rest of the collection and its questing tone with a spiritual gravitas.
As indicated by the title, this is a book about existence and God’s role in it, if any. The speaker examines his doubts throughout. As Thomason acknowledges, the work is not artistic. It’s filled with abstract, prose-like language and is often didactic, rather than allowing readers to draw their own conclusions.
Still, it might appeal to those who want to journey along with an unsentimental yet religious pilgrim who isn’t afraid of harboring an expansive sense of skepticism in his search for the truth.
Also available as an ebook.