Thomas Colquith looks back and remembers
Awareness of time is heightened at two periods of our lives. When we are very young, time appears to move at a glacial pace, especially as we approach birthdays or holidays like Christmas. Nothing seems to make it go faster. When we reach a certain age, often in our mid- to late 60s, we notice that time is accelerating and seems to be approaching the speed of light. Nothing seems to slow it down.
Poet Thomas Colquith plays with time. That’s not “play” in the sense of amusement, relaxation, and entertainment, but more in the sense of understanding, experimentation, and speculation. The 52 poems of his latest collection, Let Our Memories Escape, are meditations on time, the past, the present, and what might have been, but wasn’t.
As the poems suggest and explain, this preoccupation with time leads into a multitude of related areas — worry and anxiety, obstacles and challenges in life, relationships, social and cultural issues, and more. Time is not simply the currency of the major events of our lives; it shapes, channels, and dominates our lives in ways seen and unseen.
Colquith considers a wide array of subjects, but time plays a significant, and integral, role in all of them. Friendship. The earth and the environment. Cultural distortions of reality. Technology. Beauty. Knowledge and wisdom. Lunch. Love. The mentality of the lockdown (using the image of the Cambodian tyrant Pol Pot in a chilling and effective way).
As he considers time running its influence through all these events, problems, and conditions, Colquith takes time to catch his breath, and urges us to do the same.
Since there’s nothing you can do
To add or subtract,
Why not sit back and relax?
Take it all in —
Tell a joke; crack a grin.
Have a look at a good book.
Perhaps the great American novel
Can wipe away your tears
And mollify your fears.
Or maybe take a walk
And feel the sun tinge your skin.
Glow in its warm embrace.
Giving worries no quarter
And living life vibrantly,
Before it’s too late.
Colquith has previously published the poetry collection We Grow in Groves and the nonfiction book Hermetic Philosophy: Origins, Derivatives, and Impact. He received a B.S. degree in business from Indiana University and has worked in business, agriculture, and construction. He lives in Pennsylvania.
Let Our Memories Escape is a collection marked by self-awareness and, like what time and age bring to most of us, humility. As Colquith writes, “When I go: surely, the earth will keep on spinning; / Rain will keep falling, and the tides will be listing.” It’s a fine collection of poetry for bursting balloons of self-importance and bringing appreciation for what matters in this brief moment of time we call our lives.
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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- Poets and Poems: Thomas Colquith and ‘Let Our Memories Escape’ - August 31, 2021