Joc Simms’ book brought together some never-before seen photos of the soldier-victims of nuclear tests, some very personal histories and her breath-taking poetry about nuclear tests and warfare. Here are some of the events and some of the reactions…
Wow! These poems are chilling and moving and full of interest. You use an astonishing range of PoVs and voices. Some wonderful lines too, eg the canary girls: ‘her face is yellow as a well-done pie.’ The poems I admired most were Les Fleurs d’Azur, and Transubstantiation. It was really good to include the photographs, and that astonishing, almost unbelievable story of the Dunera. ‘Hibakusha’* was a new word to me.
Hopefully your book is a little candle in the dark for those people, and a warning to all of us. Russia and the USA seem to be about to start escalation again…
There’s a quote from Primo Levi, which I’m using at the start of my novel (I hope) “It happened, therefore it can happen again: this is the core of what we have to say.” I think that’s also what your book does, so eloquently.
Dr Maggie Butt Poet and novelist, Associate Professor, Middlesex University, Royal Literary Fund Advisory Fellow
*Hibakusha (pronounced [çibaꜜkɯ̥ɕa]; Japanese: 被爆者 or 被曝者; designating the people affected by the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The poems are accessible on many levels, leave one thinking, questioning, and feeling ready to join anti-nuclear protests, as well as engendering deep emotions. Les Fleurs d’Azur has me in tears every time, Operation Crossroads with PiG 311 raises a bitter, very sad smile (how COULD they?) and the contrasting voices in the Girl from Ailuk are incredibly powerful, getting the point across with subtlety.
I think this book is pivotal. and I sincerely wish that schools across the English-speaking world and beyond will read and teach from it. I have teaching friends in Australia who I think would be very interested, and will do as much as possible to promote it further.
I have just read your fantastic book. I had to read it piecemeal as my emotions couldn’t cope with a cover to cover binge (I moistened several tissues in the process). It has left me lost for words – man’s inhumanity against man appears to be boundless and the unwillingness to accept responsibility is shameless. I believe (in my very humble but sincere opinion) that this is a very important work and your poetry has expressed the horrors of the atomic experiments when words seem insufficient. I have been really impressed and inspired by it and will relish sharing it with others. My favourite poems in the collection are Les Fleurs d’Azur (many tissues required here) and The Girl from Ailuk …
…and more books, and coffee, and discussion – cheers!