Foreword/Clarion – August 2021

Quickwater Oracles: Conversations & Meditations

Ruth Thompson
Two Fine Crows Books (Dec 4, 2021)

Clarion Rating: 4 out of 5

Quickwater Oracles is an inspiring, thought-provoking collection of spiritual poetry that will carry the heart, mind, and soul toward broader, more open horizons.

Ruth Thompson’s Quickwater Oracles is a thought-provoking collection of spiritual poems and meditations that celebrate nature, humanity, creativity, and love.

Created using channeling, a writing technique centered on seeking an enlightened mental state, these poems blend Taoist and Buddhist beliefs with modern spiritual, naturalist, and metaphysical ideas. Some of the poems cover nature and the natural world, exploring in sincere wonder how every living thing in the world connects, communicates, and coexists. Other poems electrify as they laud the majesty of the human body and soul. Still others nurture as they encourage embracing all aspects of the self and proclaim loving yourself as important and necessary to living. The most engaging poems, which focus on creativity, inspire as they encourage openness, being present and deliberate, and going with the flow.

Knowing that the natural and spiritual worlds often challenge logic and rigid structures, these poems adopt a short, free-form construction and stream-of-consciousness style. This is paired with a narrative voice that changes, depending on the topic of the poem. Some verses sound like gentle self-talk; others switch to the sound of the teachings of a guru; still others shift to the tone of a strong, motivating coach, or to that of a comforting storyteller.

While some of the book’s philosophical subjects are deep, most of the poems are infused with a sense of playfulness, wonder, and joy. Some passages, such as those in the poem “Dolphins,” dabble with onomatopoeia when describing the happy squeaking of the creatures. Other poems use clever repetition and intentional word choices to create a rhythm, building in a gradual wave of momentum. A verse in “Poem Seeds” exemplifies this: “Just imagine. Just imagine! It’s bright, crack! light, gold, and / galaxy, galaxy, galaxy, and we, we shout that!” This slow build toward jubilance appears in multiple poems, making the collection crackle with energy.

Elsewhere, though, the exploration of cerebral topics leads to passages that are too focused on philosophical pondering, though such passages are few in the collection. When they appear, the verses focus on ideas, like love or honesty, rather than using visual imagery to build a sense of space and drama. The book’s more imagery-centered poems, with their visual descriptions, are spectacular: “You have affinity with starlight – cool, clear, effervescent – the light of truth, clarity. And with the void, / darkness soft as ‘Ohi’a cat’s fur…”

Quickwater Oracles is an inspiring, thought-provoking collection of spiritual poetry that will carry the heart, mind, and soul toward broader, more open horizons.

Reviewed by Katerie Prior

August 10, 2021


Midwest Book Review – September, 2021

Quickwater Oracles

Ruth Thompson

Quickwater Oracles: Conversations and Meditations is not a series of life admonitions, as is usually the case with meditative literary works; but a poetic channeling intuitions and experiences into creative expression, introspection, and broader understanding.

Ruth Thompson uses these experiences to delve into many issues of life, from explorations of unconditional love to the process of becoming a writer and channeling words of truth and wisdom.

 As these pieces move through nature, self, and philosophical contemplation, Thompson brings a life and vivid set of memories to her words that will resonate with readers.

These aren’t your typical imaginings or explorations. Thompson presents many surprises, as in the piece narrated from the point of view of horse Lucky: “Here is this place, this air, the smells of this particular time, and I Lucky am merged too with this. It’s the wind here now. Wind coming across much land. And smell of grass. New grass. And it goes forever. We can run forever. And we, we, we enjoy this sun. It was hard in winter with ice and snow but now, now is best time! All of us around all of us. And there is more here than horse. We are cloud and cloud shadow moving and we are all the growings, all colors, smells. We are smells. It is much space here. Water too here. Fast, quick water. I Lucky am not wanting to talk. I am liking the wind and the moving and the wind blows the bugs away. But I am not joy in having you or anyone on my back! Yes, it is a bonding when a horse and a person know one another for a long time, but that is a different thing.”

This passage illustrates that the language and punctuation in this book may not embrace the usual literary precision of form and grammatical accuracy, but often set aside more staid choices in the interest of embracing a freer-flowing form of expression.

“Stay true to you” is one of the many messages Thompson imparts about the creative process. Her admonitions and insights support every writer’s efforts to please not just others, but especially themselves: “There is nothing wrong with enjoying that feeling of creating, expressing, and connecting — having your creative work be transformative, magical, alchemical. There is an “Aha!” when someone reads your words, or when they hear and see and experience through your presence. There is nothing wrong with wanting to have your work connect with those who are in affinity with it. That is fine! But we say, just release what is finished and let it go. And turn back to doing what gives you joy.”

And so, while Quickwater Oracles should be considered for any literary collection, this added value makes it a recommended pick for philosophy, self-help, and creative writers and readers, as well.

The fervor of its voice, the unconventional pieces that eschew propriety for passion, and the many insights into personal power and integrity that wind through these reflections are poignant, revealing, and powerful.

Ideally, Quickwater Oracles will reach a wide, diverse audience with its rich, joyful channeling of nature, purpose, and spiritual, spirited reflections.

D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review