During her early years, Fran O’Donnell often thought of rhymes and phrases, wanting each sentence to form a rhythm and pattern. She enjoyed the association of words as she envisioned the world around her, likened to the vision of an exquisite silhouette from the branch of a beautiful old tree. Words and trees became her friend and companion as she grew hungry to learn more about them. Her book, Whispers from the Tree of Life, is a collection of poems written over many years from her involvement in life, observations, inquiries, experiences, love, and conclusions of and in her life.
Fran O’Donnell writes about what is natural in human life, particularly in the life of an artist and of someone who connects nature to human existence. The free verse and easy language allow the poems to flow along as if carried naturally by wind or water. The artificial is omitted. Fran’s poems are self propelled, organic. The poems are not couched philosophical rhetoric. Fran is an observer of nature and weaves it into her memory poems as she remembers or thinks of others and as an expression of how one strives to identify herself to herself as changes occur over time and the perception of self is recycled. Fran’s use of apostrophe and her nature metaphors for the workings of the inner self allow the reader to empathize with the poet whose persona remains steady throughout the collection. It would be difficult for anyone who has passed through a good portion of life and who has kept an eye turned toward nature not to both appreciate and enjoy Fran’s expression of living.
~ Marc G. LeVasseur, Associate Professor of English, Community College of Rhode Island
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