The horrors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were so vast that a straightforward reporting of the facts does not always convey the enormity of what happened. This is one of the reasons why people continue to turn to artists for a better understanding of the disaster.
Poet Antony Owen is from Coventry, England, with an interest in exploring the consequences of conflicts which he considers are largely overlooked. Author of five poetry collections, his The Nagasaki Elder was inspired by atomic bomb survivors’ accounts and growing up in Cold War Britain at the peak of nuclear proliferation. Antony is a CND Peace Education patron since 2015, and his poems feature in a national CND peace education resource to schools.
The following poem is from The Nagasaki Elder collection.
You were the sun
that stole a rainbow
from arcs of Hiroshima bridges,
and how you chose your colours.
First, magnesium reds twined like blood in water,
then you stole blue and brown from eyes of children,
but black is what you wanted the most, a certain shade.
So, you mixed the colours
with burning hair and wind,
unshackled the shadows free from all their flesh,
but they wept in the blood-drenched dusk
and the only way to return to Hiroshima
was to weep as black rain to where they had risen,
nourishing the scorched tundra in eggshell raindrops
until they exploded as oleanders.
“When writing about the bombing upon Hiroshima and Nagasaki the perspective I grew up with was from outside the mushroom cloud not underneath it. The story kept from me and our generation was incomplete with a focus on victory and not consequences of a new nuclear age of mass proliferation of nuclear weapons.”
-Read this brand new interview with Antony Owen about where he finds his inspiration and how culture can convey political messages.