Water Lilies
by Jacqueline Ann

"like water lilies
we shall grace ourselves into the trust of liquid love
with life gently feeding our bellies one day at a time;
moments we cannot take in at once
people we cannot forget
choices that change us forever"

Ann admittedly writes because it “took over and chose me” and is a “preferred method of transportation to travel toward a destination of peace.” This collection of free-verse poems is a search for love and peace that is sometimes difficult to attain but not altogether impossible. Along the way in this journey in life, there are hurt, distractions, roadblocks, and unexpected paths. These are universal experiences. Ann is aware of this, and she addresses them here, through her poetry, through words.

The poems are aphoristic, emblematic of the style of poetry that expresses collective emotions and truths with as little words as possible. The poems all vary in length, with some as short as two or three lines of verse, while others are slightly longer prose. But even the briefest poems, simplistic though they may seem, still manage to convey the poet’s raw power of emotion. The core theme is love and loss, coupled with poems of motivation and inspiration. These more closely profess Ann’s devotion and faith in God, in his protection and watch over her (and us).

Peppered throughout the book are ink illustrations by Sean Anglim that accompany some of Ann’s poems. When these illustrations appear, the reader is drawn to them, and the interplay of text and image adds layers and dimensions to the work. In one early poem in the book, Ann imparts the truth of finding someone to love you in this world. This is someone who is there for every moment, regardless if you’re newly in love or married after decades.

i hope you find someone that makes it incredibly difficult every morning to
leave your bed and go to work
someone who says “My treat!” and buys you dinner without expecting
anything in return
someone that makes it exciting to buy them gifts and surprise them with all
their favorites
someone that asks you to stop walking and gaze up at the twinkling stars with
someone who refuses to let go of your hand when the plane takes off

In another poem, Ann ponders a life with heartache versus one without. The interplay of text and image is very clear here with Anglim’s illustration of a human heart with a clock and a bandage across it that appropriately joins Ann’s words.

i’d rather have my heart
break because i loved
than feel the ache in regret
that i did not.

Another poem offers assurance that one should not worry about those inevitable detours in life. She refers to them like a work zone.

do not fret
when you see construction work being done
on the road to your dreams

The devotion to her faith emerges among several of the poems within the book. They address God, and one begins to see and understand the poet’s faith. An example is a poem that reveals her trust in God, where she speaks of finding possible true love before losing it.

maybe the point of knowing him wasn’t to make him mine.
maybe for the small amount of time
my heart felt like a million sparks set it on fire;
i began to feel again and believe there will be someone out there one day
whom i will fall madly in love with.
his presence gave me a glimpse into the future
and closure from my past.
God is gentle, and He doesn’t play with our hearts.
so when He tries to close a door,
He understands why we often put our foot in the way.

Throughout, Ann plays with and against the traditional conventions of poetry. Like many modern poets today, Ann seeks to use a more experimental and creative method of expressing herself with the written art. There are no clear titles for the poems. First words and lines are not capitalized, and punctuation is used sparingly. She also utilizes the “confessional style” of poetry, a style of the poetic self where the poet shares private experiences under the guise of autobiographical context. Her use of short, brief lines is akin to something one would read on Twitter and certainly fits with the conventions of a world where social media plays a central role. When reading her work, one might recall other poets who use similar styles, most notably the wildly popular Rupi Kaur, whose work pops on the page through the sparing use of punctuation.

While Ann’s poems are mostly heartfelt and personally relatable, many of them are replete with clichés and written in an abstract way. Additionally, the religious undertones may not appeal to all readers. Despite this, she makes a good effort here, and some or her poetry clearly indicates that she wants to give her readers something to take away from it all.

write it
because thoughts become words
words become lines
lines become paragraphs
paragraphs become chapters
chapters become a book
and that book could change someone’s life.

The poet’s heart shines brightly through her work. And perhaps that honest transparency will be just what is needed to "change someone’s life" for the better. 

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