(Reviewed by Christina Anne Taylor of Middle Island Press)
Upon reading O Dear Deer, by poetess Linda Dove, I am not surprised that it stood out as a winner amid over a hundred entries in quest of the 2011 Eudaimonia Chapbook Prize. Once a manuscript and a living aspiration with tendrils extending in all directions, O Dear Deer, is now perfect-bound in Penguin style and presented by Squall Publishing for the instinctual intrigue and intellectual delight of poetry readers.
In its entirety, O Dear Deer, is an intense and multi-faceted perceptive unveiling of the paradox of ramifications within a courtroom situation, a search for a killer, and a need for direction. It tells of the irony of conclusion without resolution; it illustrates many forks of possibilities, like the antlers of deer, like the branches of trees, like veins in the soil washed away by water, like pathways scrubbed clean by the seasons.
All the while, the reader’s mind is swirling in sensations of intelligence confused, of clarity diffused, of truth torn in a million pieces and cast to the west wind, and yet…
Linda Dove is brilliant innately and through her studies, and she seized an opportunity to do what all great poets aspire toward: She analyzed a real situation and raised a multi-verse of abstractions to life in a picturesque panorama of clever metaphor.
From her first poem, “Voir Dire”:
We keep branches of want in our heads
and gather little else, our arms heavy
with the dead wood of deer.
The situation told through a series of poems is erudite with meaning, which makes Linda’s use of couplets a welcome format that allows space for the mind to process thoughts…thoughts that flow, thoughts that divide and branch out in wonder, thoughts that engage the reader in the same search as the jurors who seek the evasive. It’s so hyper-real that it’s surreal…
Congratulations to Linda, a winner worthy of the prize!
Purchase a copy of O Dear Deer, through Amazon.com.
Linda Dove holds a Ph.D. in Renaissance poetry and taught literature and creative writing for many years. Her full-length collection of poems is In Defense of Objects (Bear Star Press, 2009). Poems have been nominated recently for a Pushcart Prize and as a finalist for the Robert H. Winner Award from the Poetry Society of America and have appeared in such publications as the L.A. Review, Diner, Horse Less Review, and the North American Review. She lives in Altadena, California with her husband, daughter, and two Jack Russell terriers.