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Hibakusha – never forget

Joycelyn Simms’ extraordinary poems about the Hibakusha – those affected (in so many terrible ways) by the nuclear detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were inspired by ‘a thousand paper cranes and lanterns floating on the river Ota’, and by John Hersey’s book, Hiroshima – and then, when the poem Grapple Y was published by the erbacca journal, fellow writer Helen Aurelius told Jocelyn that her father had been on Christmas Island during the nuclear testing.

Jocelyn discovered that the number and range of the Hibakusha – those affected by nuclear bombs were greater and more terrible, and the callousness of governments’ response to them more extreme, than most of us ever realised.

With a light hand and an artist/poet’s eye, Jocelyn brought together Helen’s never-before published photographs of her father and his fellow soldiers, or the nuclear explosions themselves, with her poems and an evocative selection of letters and information about the victims and survivors.

Poet and editor Mandy Pannett comments: … and as a backcloth to the images, the notes and the poems, we have all the unwritten words, the un-heard voices of the dead and the dying, the ‘circling words’ of the Navajo chant, the insistent murmur that underpins Tickling the Dragon, saying we must remember.

Remember what you have seen, because everything forgotten returns to the circling winds

– Navajo chant

“Buy this collection,” declares fellow poet Roger Elkin, “savour and re-read it: share it, champion it, and let it help to shape for good the wider world.”

Tickling the Dragon by Jocelyn Simms - cover pic

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