Hagios Press / 19 July 2010

Fallout by Sandra Ridley Published by Hagios Press Review by Shelley A. Leedahl $17.95 ISBN 978-1-926710-05-1 Before I read Fallout, the new book of poetry by former Saskatchewanian Sandra Ridley, I had never heard of “Downwinders,” “trinitite,” or “the Tumbler-Snapper Test Series.” “Atomic Cowboys?” The term sounds like an apt name for a country punk band, but in the Notes section of the Ottawa poet’s book we learn that these cowboys were hired by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to “herd cattle over Ground Zero just after detonations – for the purpose of studying the effects of radiation on animal tissue.” Indeed, all is not what it seems in this distinctive book, released in 2010 by Hagios Books. The back cover copy reveals that the collection “appears to be about the legacy of the nuclear age,” and many of the poems do deal with the Fallout the title suggests: illnesses spawned by “Radioactive particles blowing past the Dakotas” and the “blind rabbits, broken Joshua trees” at the Trinity Test Site, for example, but these poems are interspersed between pieces about childhood, rural life, and a broken family, and the book closes with a long poem in ghazal form – “Life:…

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