A Deer in the Fog
by David O’Sullivan
Print Length: 100 pages
Reviewed by Susan Morris
A perceptive collection exploring humanity’s quest for hope
A Deer in the Fog by David O’Sullivan is a hope-filled memoir-in-poetry about resilience-based optimism.
In fifty-three free-verse poems, O’Sullivan captures the torment associated with depression and offers a poetic sense of hope and consolation. The poems included represent both discovery and healing by the guide of a perceptive internal voice. O’Sullivan imbues the page with a number of fresh images and vivid metaphors that I couldn’t get enough of, like this description of fog: “realis(ing) the warmth of a scarf round your neck / on a day so cold / that your words take shape in front of you.”
The poem “I Have Learnt” could be my favorite though. It’s a wonderful example of how the book captures its life lessons directly and thoughtfully.“I have learnt / that all inadequacies / are a pathway of life.”
“Desperate” closes with a sharp pang, and “Once Upon a Time” displays childhood with short, punchy lines and clear imagery: “I can push back the clouds to where they belong.”
The poems touch on countless pertinent themes including humanity, God, security, desperation, vanity, temptation, longing, suffering, obligation, and self-worth. Good poetry, to me, is a hearty display of smart figurative language, stretching the actual meaning of words for effect, evoking feelings around a central idea, and reflecting on an underlying theme. While many of the collection’s poems do this with lovely figurative language, they also include literal language, summarizing or phrasing the author’s exact meaning or experience. This closes the distance between us and the speaker.
There are times I wished singular poems would stick with a literary device and follow through completely on the specific within the poem, but some poems contain multiple and sometimes mixed metaphors that feel a bit less cohesive than perhaps could be. While I longed for more imagery and metaphor, I was glad to witness and feel O’Sullivan’s thought-provoking journey. There are several important messages in here that you’ll be glad to explore and discover.
A Deer in the Fog is a smooth and easy-reading collection filled with hope and vivid imagery. Take this poetic journey with thoughtful verse and you’ll find yourself hope-filled, too, by the end of it.
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