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[Book Review] of “A Quilt for David” by Steven Reigns

by Maria Duarte

A Quilt for David is a book filled with solitude, hope, and courage. Through a series of poems, the story of Dr. David Acer is laid out, intertwined with facts known to the public and information that no one knew. There is an innate secrecy that covers not only David’s life but the whole book as well as, little by little, the poems uncover a story about being human and looking for what all people look for: life, love, and acceptance.

Poetry helps Reigns put together an overview of David’s life in a respectful and beautiful manner. Through each poem the reader learns a bit of what David did to form the life that he had and how he tried to cope with a disease no one knew much about or how to treat. Each of the poems has snippets, chapters of how David’s story developed in an environment of ignorance, greed, and death. In between these tragic aspects of a life, the reader also encounters love and acceptance, mostly from David’s family. The language that forms the poems is not only carefully chosen but it is also compassionate and open. Even though each poem can stand on its own, as a group they become more powerful because they present the story as a whole instead of only one side.

There are details about David’s life that helps the reader understands not only David’s solitude but his desire to have a family. How he worked to find a balance between his career, his identity as a gay man in a society still not fully accepting, and his diagnosis of HIV. It also presents the reader with the accounts of what happened throughout the trial, and after David and his accuser, Kimberly, were gone.

Poetry also allows Reigns to present not only a life and its facts but also a sentiment. Through the images of the poems the reader can feel the solitude of David’s life, his hope for a better future until he was diagnosed with HIV, and then his hope for a cure, the consequences of a lie and how greed affects lives. It is also interesting how through the events and the story we can see how each human responds to dying.

Overall, the book not only presents one life, a life that was disrespected and blamed for spreading HIV and the death of others when the protagonist was alive, but it also redeems that life of all the nonsense that, at the time, were seen as truth. Dr. David Acer was treated as the scapegoat for many, mainly because they are afraid to accept consequences but also because when people don’t understand something they often blame someone else.

Maria Duarte is a poet and writer who received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside—Palm Desert. She has published poems in Verdad Magazine from Long Beach City College and in the anthology The Good Grief Journal: A Journey Toward Healing. She is currently the poetry editor for Kelp Journal.


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