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Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
David Rice delivers a climate-centric anthology of original pieces of poetry in his book, Sequelae. The compilation combines both prose and poetry verses which, for clarity, are not the same thing, and breathes life into the messaging. The book states that the formatting is inspired by tanka, the ancient art of Japanese syllabic poetry, but forgoes the hallmark thirty-one syllable structure of 5/7/5/7/7. The poems are instead a blend of the punchy characteristic five-line construction of tanka and the immunity of syllabic structure found in free-form poetry. Between poems, Rice provides narrative prose that expands the theme and provides more clarity than can be given in five lines. There is also visual art interspersed that has been created by Tex Buss.
As a woman who comes from an Asian family, my affinity for Asian poetry forms is probably greater than that of most more casual readers of poetry. I'm deeply familiar with tanka and the style it gave birth to that is more widely recognized; the haiku. Naturally, I picked up Sequelae by David Rice as soon as I saw it. It's not entirely what I was expecting or accustomed to but it is still incredibly good. The verses are beautifully and powerfully constructed, the narrative prose genuinely solidifies the message, and the artwork by Tex Buss pulls it all together wonderfully. My favorite poem in the book is Pre-TSD, which describes the devastation of climate-created fires that will inevitably come. I was born and raised in California and have witnessed firsthand the destruction of giant Redwoods that were born before the first European settlers landed in the Americas, and the trees that line the drive to Lake Tahoe being nothing more than charred skeletons of what they once were. Rice's words touched me in a profoundly painful way but being moved by poetry is the entire point of crafting it. Very highly recommended.