Iain Thomas affirms love and life
Iain Thomas was a writer and poet before Instagram, but it was that social medium that brought him to the attention of a lot of people. As in millions around the world.
Thomas has published several books and poetry collections, including Every Word You Cannot Say, I Wrote This for You, I Wrote This for You and Only You, Intentional Dissonance, 25 Poems for the NSA, 300 Things I Hope, I Am Incomplete Without You, How to Be Happy: Not a Self-Help Book (Seriously), and [Dis]Connected. He combines prose, poetry, and art to make a powerful impression. He’s been read and quoted by people like Steven Spielberg, and his work has been read in front of the British Royal Family.
His latest work, The Truth of You: poetry about love, life, joy, and sadness, was published in March. Its 230 pages include poems, black-and-white artwork, and a few pieces of short prose (although it’s difficult, these days, to call something short prose when it could also be a prose poem). The poems generally follow the chronology of a relationship, from first meeting and first flush of love through madly in love, breakup and reconciliation.
What becomes clear through these poems is how love, when it happens, is the filter through which everything is seen and experienced. It might be a rising moon, a treehouse house in winter, a slammed door, a long drive without destination, a light in the window. The relationship defines all of these ordinary, daily kinds of things.
Understanding that leads Thomas to understand even why he writes poetry.
A Little at a Time
I was writing this poem when my son was
born and on the way to the hospital,
I was underlining the most important bits.
I was writing this poem when the water
dried up and when the lights went out.
And now, with the army in the streets, I
am still writing the poem.
Because the poem is my daughter, and
sunlight and my hands and the blue of the
And when I die, when they bury me and
when my children’s children’s children do
not know my name,
I will still be writing this poem.
Thomas is writing this poem as the life he’s living, and he loves this poem as he loves his life. The entire collection is an affirmation of both love and life, and I suspect the poet would see the two as inseparable.
In addition to his poetry and other writing, Thomas has been a creative director, a consultant to corporations and other institutions, a workshop leader, and a speaker at literary festivals and conferences. He lives with his family in Cape Town, South Africa.
Some of the poems lean in the direction of aphorisms; others seem like tweets or Instagram posts. (You can find similar poems posted on Instagram at @realiainsthomas.) Through them all, Thomas affirms love and life. And sometimes this is only and exactly what we need to remember that life always has worth and value.
How to Read a Poem uses images like the mouse, the hive, the switch (from the Billy Collins poem)—to guide readers into new ways of understanding poems. Anthology included.
“I require all our incoming poetry students—in the MFA I direct—to buy and read this book.”
—Jeanetta Calhoun Mish
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