In Each Other’s Footsteps

First published in Woodnotes #29, Summer 1996, pages 51–52.

In Each Other’s Footsteps by David Rice. Privately published, 1996, 32 pages, paperback, 3½ by 10¼ inches. $11.00 postpaid from the author at 1470 Keoncrest Drive, Berkeley, California 94702. The shape of this book immediately tips you off that it is unusual. Each right-hand page, opposite illustrations by Kay F. Anderson, offers five tanka each on ten tanka subjects. Each subject, as the author explains, is explored from the perspective of five life stages. Accordingly, for the ten topics, the book shares one tanka each for the “child,” “adolescent,” “young adult,” “middle-aged,” and “older” stages of life. As a psychologist, David is ideally suited to experiment with tanka in this way, and it works—exceedingly well. This book is original and complex—yet easily apprehended. What really makes these pages sparkle are David’s disarmingly honest, emotive, and refreshing poems—they slide over the tongue as effortlessly as warmed ice cream. The typesetting and book design by Katrina L. Middleton are very pleasing, too. Even if you don’t ordinarily read tanka, do treat yourself to this gem of a book. Here’s one of umpteen quotable samples:

warm summer night

tree frogs sing to us

under a full moon

you make me promise

we’ll meet in our next life