George E. Thompson’s book of poetry titled “Experience, Strength and Hope” is a book that details the author’s strong religious faith that stemmed from his experiences with grief. The title reflects on the themes which are found in the 103 pages of poems that make up this book. These themes are meant to be an inspiration to the reader to help them through hard times, especially through grief, as was the motivation for their being written.

It is easy to see that these poems deal with personal experiences. Many of these experiences can relate to the events that take place in many reader’s lives, such as war, loss, and family relationships. To incorporate all of these experiences into this one book, Thompson’s work takes on many distinct voices in his poetry.

Sometimes the poem’s voice is autobiographical. Other points of view include those from women, children, and even God Himself. Many views are reflective of the speaker’s religious views such as “Inner Beauty” which is basically a tribute to God. Others reflect on childhood events, such as the poem “Math Transfer,” about the speaker’s experience with switching into a more advanced math class at school where he was coldly welcomed. The center of the book contains a five part series of poems titled “My Soldier,” an exchange of letters and thoughts between a son in the war and the mother he left behind.

Mothers and female relatives in general are the subject of several of Thompson’s poems. The book itself is dedicated to his parents, both of whom are no longer living. These women are praised and honored within the work and show a deep appreciation for the subjects. The book is meant to reinforce the importance of family, both immediate and distant, living and dead, in the reader’s own life. This creates a preachy tone to the poems without being forceful in conveying their message.

Thompson relies on traditional and highly dated elements of craft in his poems, such as rhyme, capitalized lines, and primitive poetry forms such as haiku and acrostic. His messages are clear but filled with abstract language. Many of the twelve haikus in the book are interesting but do not stand alone well as complete poems. The mentioning of the acrostic form within the titles of the acrostic poems are distracting as are the rhyming patterns which sometimes interrupt the flow and pacing of the lines. The few poems that don’t rhyme or conform to a set of rules are the strongest in the book. These include the poems “Phoenix,” about the death of Christ, “Feral” about a territorial cat and “My Dog Boots,” about a childhood pet.

In the end, this book would make a great mother’s day present to honor a mother with deeply religious Christian views and simple tastes in poetry. For the contemporary poet and reader of modern poetry, however, the form and craft of these poems will seem outdated and underdeveloped. Thompson’s messages are strong and clear, but his execution does not always do them justice.

To Purchase a Copy of George E. Thompson’s “Experience, Strength and Hope” Visit:

www.amazon.com

Publisher: AuthorHouse (November 11, 2005)

Price: $13.99 (paperback)

120 pages

8.8” x 5.9”

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