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When We Say ‘Hiroshima’
Selected Poems
by Kurihara Sadako, translated & introduced by Richard H. Minear, University of Massachusetts

Kurihara Sadako is one of the poetic giants of the nuclear age. Born in Hiroshi-ma in 1913, she was in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. From then till now she has addressed her poetry primarily to issues of nuclear destruction, nuclear weapons, and nuclear power.  Herself a victim of the world’s first nuclear attack, she became the poetic conscience of the Hiroshima that was no more. Her “Let Us Be Midwives!” (September 1945) is perhaps her single most famous poem: it celebrates the birth of a baby in the aftermath of nuclear devastation, the triumph of life over death. But Kurihara turned her attention soon to more controversial issues, including Japan’s role as victimizer in World War II. Many of her poems attack the Japanese government and its policies then and now.

That We May Say ‘Hiroshima’ contains a selection of the poems Kurihara wrote between 1942  and 1989. They include meditations on death, on survival,on nuclear radiation, on Japanese politics, on American foreign policy, and on women’s issues. By turns sorrowful and sarcastic, tender and tough, her poems constitute a major legacy of the nuclear age.

Published by Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan
Michigan Monographs in Japanese Studies No. 23
Published 1999, 73 pp.
ISBN 0 939512 89 0, paperback, £11.99