HOPE'S HALF-LIFE: NUCLEAR POEMS
Volume 12 Number 1
In this set of poems on nuclear issues, Raymond Filip combines the ease, timeliness, and objectivity of a journalist with as much linguistic dexterity as his desire to address a popular audience will allow. He glosses all sides of a serious topic, tempering the toughness with wit. In the tougher vein, plutonium Is broken down to "Plutonium, Pluto, God of Death./ Finally,/Something new under the sun:/ Another sun,/Where the earth was." On the sunnier side of the tongue, it is, "Plutonium survives over 24,000 years./ The only other heavy element in human nature/That lasts longer is love."
The titles of the poems announce the themes and tone-jabs softened, life and death concerns turned to the tune of an advertising jingle: "Candu Can't Do" and "No Nuke of the North." These titles are designed to a full page each to stress the effect.
Filip never fails to mix his unpalatable topic into a palatable blend. He slides statistics in copiously, counting years, megawatts, rems, kilograms. He reads company signs and a stream of protest slogans. He listens to many voices: French, English, Yiddish, the technological jargon of CANDU, AECL, PR, CN, TV. He probes relevant settings and studies the people there. We attend an experimental educational class to observe children responding to an anti-nuclear puppet show. We visit the office of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. We accompany a busload of Montrealers to a demonstration on Parliament Hill. We tour the communities adjacent to nuclear sites. We visit the laboratories and hear the arguments of nuclear engineers in a context that seems honest and respectful.
Véhicule Press has produced this volume in a glossier format than one would normally expect for a Nukebook. Likewise, the bright colours, simple shapes, and soft symbolism of Barbara Reid's watercolour cover design make it look less like an adult poetry book than an elementary school text. A back cover photo of Filip standing on the shield plug of the NRX Reactor .at Chalk River is well suited, as is the notion of placing a preface by Gordon Edwards, chair of a nuclear protest group alongside a letter from Fred Blackstein, adviser to the Executive Vice-President of. Atomic Energy of Canada Limited Research Company.
This book is superficially Canadian in flavour with references to Ottawa, Montreal, and Mounties in abundance. But it is more than a Canadian book; it is a book for "the dominion of the human condition."
Tony Cosier, Confederation H. S., Nepean, ON.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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