Poetry News

Forms Always Transforming: Jacqueline Waters's Commodore

By Harriet Staff
Jacqueline Waters, Commodore, cover

For the second issue of the new monthly review journal, 4squarereview, Thomas Cook reviews Jacqueline Waters's Commodore (Ugly Duckling Presse, Dec. 2017). "The brain, or the consciousness on the pages of Waters’ collection Commodore, has trouble holding on to things because it's not things that she sees. She see forms. The poems in Commodore are concerned more with the shape of a movement than what moves," writes Cook. More:

One of the most impressive achievements in Commodore is that we grow convinced by how the speaker sees the world: a field of forms always transforming. In “Scissor Half,” Waters writes “Really I’ve got to find a place / to lie down and go to work,” and we’re left thinking about the shape of that action. What kind of a place is that? It’s a delightfully conflicting desire, and toward the end of the book Waters turns increasingly self-reflexive about the book’s themes. In “Protocol,” she describes reading another book, and her experience bleeds into the poem’s metaphor:


I enjoy reading this book about giant waves

Penetrating so many secrets we’ve no breath left for the unknowable

The cold can balanced

on the half-ajar door


In “The End,” she reflects “They say the bomb           of your central question / will tick inside the head / of your reader,” and this is precisely what the book has been constructing. Surrounding all of this apprehension of forms is a question about the nature of reality, how we have to gather it into meaning despite being just one form among many; we are like Waters' poems: “You’re lucky / you’re my book,” she tells us in “It Isn’t Easy.” “You are sick / of motioning / so you probably won’t / wave me over anymore.”

This of course isn’t true, because I would wave Waters and this book over whenever I wanted to make my world strange in the most fruitful way, whenever I wanted to see the table or the vase, my water glass or paper weight or cold can in and of themselves. Waters reveals the fun of looking...

Find the full review right here.

Originally Published: February 9th, 2018