Janet McLaren-Wade’s poetry collection Through It All introduces as poet-speaker a committed evangelist for Christian values who emphasizes love, forgiveness, and faith through good times and bad.
The book is arranged thematically into nine sections, including “Coping with Life’s Tragedies,” “Revisiting Pity Parties,” “Death Has No Victory,” and “From ‘My Ashes’ I Rise.” “Others” presents poems written by the author’s friends and family. The poems are best characterized as inspirational/self-help, religious/spiritual, and greeting-card verse. They employ a mixture of unrhymed free verse, formal structures like haiku and pantoum, as well as simple rhyming couplets and quatrains.
Whatever the form, the message of all McLaren-Wade’s poems is essentially the same, as epitomized by the rallying cry: “We are soliders, [sic] of the Lord/ And we have work to do” and the reassurance that “He [God] is the source of my tomorrow, the eraser of my past.”
Whether mourning a lost loved one, celebrating the presence of a special person in her life, or simply preaching the Good News, McLaren-Wade’s poems rely much more on telling than showing details, saturating readers with abstract rather than concrete nouns, e.g. “We are the product of faith and unwavering hope/ A promise and a possibility with a vision to cope.”
Abstract words like “faith,” “hope,” “promise,” “possibility” and “vision” are cerebral/conceptual rather than visceral, and far less likely to strike a strong, emotional chord than would more unique and specific sensory examples. Additionally, familiar sentiments abound, such as: “To me you have been an angel/ Sent, from God above,” and “Jesus came to save us and from sins to set us free.”
Overall, these poems are well-intentioned but largely interchangeable, each reiterating the same basic ideals in lines that lack original diction and compelling imagery.
Through It All no doubt holds strong, sentimental appeal for its author and her inner circle. However, in its current form, it lacks the aesthetic merits and literary sophistication to gain a wide reading audience.
Also available as an ebook.