By Ashley Bowden
Jacqueline DeStefano (15’) self-published her first collection of original poetry entitled, “Water Lilies,” released in June 2018. Since its release, the book garnered success among the author’s target audience: young men and
women seeking motivation and healing. “It’s not long-winded; it’s concise and clear-cut, it’s real,” DeStefano said about the book’s structure.
“I don’t know necessarily that this book was written for an audience of young men, but I do think it’s for the thinker,” Raphael Anthony, a reader who was referred to The Pioneer by DeStefano, said after reading “Water Lilies.”
The collection covers topics such as love, loss, friendship, family, bullying, and more.
DeStefano meant for this to inspire growth and healing. It also covers matters such as recognizing mental illness like depression. She hopes readers find the purpose and value in themselves.
“It embodies many different experiences and feelings and elements of growth that a person of this age group may have already experienced
or might experience going forward,” DeStefano said. She started assembling this collection when she was 15 years old. “From 15 to 25,
that’s a decade, I’d say, of exponential growth,” DeStefano said.
“It really shows how a woman can change over time,” Christina Principato, a friend of DeStefano’s, said. “I really think that it brought out specific features of my life that I was able to relate to within the book.”
The poetry is interpretable among a diverse audience. After reading certain poems, Anthony was able to take away messages that had meaning to him after interchanging the pronouns the author used. “When you read it [the poetry] from a guy’s standpoint, there’s a message of true love and finding someone that can love you the way that you deserve to be loved,” he said.
The title “Water Lilies” was inspired by advice DeStefano, 25, got from her mother when she was younger. “She would use the analogy to ‘take it one step at a time, pretend that you are on a water lily and you’re focusing on the moment that you’re in at that point,” DeStefano said. “And then from there, you leap to the next pad, and that leap itself is the strength it takes to get from one life [experience] to the next.’” The illustration of a young girl jumping from one lily pad to another on the front cover reflects this concept. “You can’t take on life all at once,” DeStefano said. “That alone can be overwhelming.”
One poem entitled “Louder than his Lips” stood out to Anthony. “It’s about finding someone who can tell you that they love you without actually saying it and just getting it from the way that they look at you,” he said. “It doesn’t
matter what your preference is or who you’re in love with, it’s just finding that emotional connection with somebody.”
Principato enjoyed a poem in the book the author wrote for her future son. “It describes how over the years people will judge you and treat you in different ways, but you are who you are,” she said.
Though she is Catholic, DeStefano’s poems near the end of the book are written based on Christian beliefs. “God, for me, is everywhere. He’s in every part of my life,” she said. “He’s ever-present, and for me, something that’s ever present would be embodied [by] water.” Furthering the symbolism of floating water lilies, “I know that [God] is the body of water that is under all these lily pads that I’m jumping over in life,” DeStefano said. “And if I were to ever fall short on the leap to my next pad, I’m not
afraid because I fall into Him.
“[There are] definitely a lot of strong poems about God and faith in her book,” Anthony said. “That was a big takeaway for me that I personally loved and enjoyed.”
DeStefano received her Bachelor of Science in Accountancy and a Master of Business Administration in December 2015, and she is pursuing a career in writing going forward.“Both worlds have benefited me tremendously,” she
Currently DeStefano works as a certified public accountant for a firm on Long Island. “I wanted to use my writing and my knowledge of business to fund the publication of my writing.”
She enjoys being able to express creativity and emotion through writing. “I know I definitely have an aspiration to write another book, more in the sense that it promotes self-awareness,” she said.
The author received positive responses about “Water Lilies” via social media. “I will never know the effect of how far my book will go, and that’s okay with me because it’s not for me,” she said. “I know that it’s going to heal and touch lives, and that’s all that matters.”
“I would absolutely recommend this [book] to someone going through a tough time because she opens up about hardships that she’s had,” Anthony said. For people struggling with situations such as losing a loved one, they can identify with what the author experienced. Right after, they’ll be able to read about how she overcame those challenges.
“Water Lilies” is available for sale at www. barnesandnoble.com and www.amazon.com. It is also available through iBooks as an e-book. For more information about the book, visit www.jacqann.com, follow DeStefano on Instagram @jacq.ann or on Facebook @waterliliesbyjacquelineann.