Artists have continued to express the horrors of the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki over the decades, with culture playing an important part in keeping the memory of what happened alive.
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 (V.Press, 2017) was inspired by atomic bomb survivors’ accounts and growing up in Cold War Britain at the peak of nuclear proliferation. His poems have been translated into Japanese, Mandarin and Dutch. CND Peace Education (UK) selected Owen as one of their first national patrons in 2015, and his poems feature in a national CND peace education resource to schools. Owen is also a recipient of the 2016 Coventry Peace & Reconciliation Award for various peace projects.
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 a new interview with Antony Owen about where he finds inspiration for his work and how culture can convey a political message.