Anran Liken’s Head over Heart: Poetry Collection About Love, Happiness, and Emotions is a book of passions, with most poems focusing on a situation that gives rise to strong emotions.
Liken’s poems are largely brief, generally less than a page long. They are written clearly, and many carry positive messages that some will find inspiring and relatable. In “Love One Another,” for example, Liken writes: “Bullying of a person because of/ His/her colour is wrong/ For it does not make you powerful/ But belittles who you could be.”
Many poems explore personal betrayals using similes and metaphors but eschewing specific scenarios. Thus, they could apply to many different types of conditions between people. For example, in “Blind Faith,” Liken writes: “Your pain is like a/ hunger, eating away at your soul/ life may never be the same again/ or so it may seem //…She let you down at the last hurdle/ just one hurdle out of them all…” Readers never learn who “she” is to the speaker or what the person did to let the speaker down. Certainly, everyone has experienced some form of betrayal and even “blind faith,” making the subject universal, but this and other poems would be more memorable with distinctive details and images.
Additionally, the work sometimes feels too literal and would benefit from less telling and more showing. In “My Bleeding Heart,” for instance, Liken writes about pain with words that fail to bring new insight or a unique take on heartache: “My heart is breaking all over again,/ it is hard to breathe for the pain of feeling it being torn apart,/ each tear drawing more pain.” The imagery is well worn and there’s minimal, if any, use of the musical potential of poetry.
Readers seeking relatable but general messages about love and loss may enjoy these emotionally honest poems. Those looking for more artfully crafted fare, however, will want to look elsewhere.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.