Marie Jones’s A Warm Embrace is a poetry collection with two apparent goals: first, to celebrate the author’s cherished memories and loved ones, and second, to serve as a manual of sorts to help readers navigate their own special moments and relationships.
While Jones seems to be emphasizing cultivating joy and love in one’s life and the importance of celebrations (with poems about Baptism, communion, graduation, birthdays and more), A Warm Embrace suffers from a number of flaws that lessen the works effectiveness.
The collection labors under the weight of repetition. For example, 11 poems within the first 17 pages are dedicated to wedding ceremonies, bringing no new imagery, insight or perspective from one to the next.
The author also demonstrates questionable fluency with the English language. For instance, the common phrase “ray of sunshine” is changed to “a sunshine of ray” in several passages, leaving readers wondering whether Jones misunderstood the turn of phrase, or if the odd wording was intentional, to facilitate a needed rhyme.
In fact, there are many moments when the word choice is clearly dictated by rhyming requirements rather than to convey feeling or meaning. In “Real Class 30th Birthday,” Jones writes, “I have learned how to walk, talk and be firm/ It is my desire to treat other people with respect giving them a turn/ This birthday enlightens my present, while improving my past germs….”
Readers are quickly overwhelmed trying to decipher simple language that never quite jells into a cohesive thought, as with “A New Venture,” which concludes: “Focus and you will hear the cheer/ Shake the can listen and look for foam/ Watch what happens as it comes from the rear/ The challenge to add a new venture will bring you home.”
While comprised of simple iambic pentameter and universally recognizable themes, frequent subject/verb disagreement (e.g. “was” versus “were”), misspelled words (“Fanacise” rather than “fantasize”), and hazy-at-best metaphors render A Warm Embrace a difficult and frustrating read.
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