Jacqueline Ann’s poetry collection seeks to reflect on the thoughts and emotions that accompany the speaker’s everyday experiences. Themes include love, loss, and being true to one’s self.
The book is separated into four sections, with each section represented by a Roman numeral. While divided ostensibly by theme, it can be hard to find each section’s common thread. For example, section four contains several pieces dedicated to the author’s faith in and experience of God, but many others repeat ideas and images from other sections.
Nonetheless, as Ann mines the human experience, she offers some lovely moments: “love knocked loudly/ as walls fall down”; “the first time I held fire/ it didn’t just burn./ it danced strangely in my hand”; “…I cannot say who has it worse:/ she who wears black and cries at night/ or he who wishes for another day/ to bid goodbye.”
Unfortunately, the work also suffers several problems. Ann’s metaphors can be confusing and muddy (“Your Word feeds my life/ like a starving stem sitting/ in a potted plant/ abandoned by clouds/ i have been drained…”). Much of the work is prose-like,, lacking resh imagery or startling details to allow it to resonate emotionally with readers (“…i am glad you cannot understand how much I love you./ i am glad it is such an incomprehensible amount…”)
Finally, the book’s formatting is chaotic. Poems vary wildly in length, some just a few lines, others a page and a half. Because they don’t have titles, it is sometimes difficult to know where one poem ends and another begins. Frequently, the author marks the end of a piece with a brief line recapping what it was about, rather than letting the poem speak for itself.
While Water Lilies offers some interesting ideas, such issues impede its overall effectiveness. As such, it requires revision to garner widespread appeal.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.