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February 22 , 2009

Desert Fathers, Uranium Daughters


Award-winning poet Debora Greger grew up in Washington near the site of the Hanford atomic plant, which, unbeknownst to its workers, manufactured plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki. “The high school team was named the Bombers,” she writes. “The school ring had a mushroom cloud on it.” In Desert Fathers, Uranium Daughters she uses what The Nation has characterized as her “deadpan wit, intelligence and marvelous insight” to explore the legacy of a Catholic girlhood spent in a landscape where “even the dust, though we didn’t know it then, was radioactive.”

“Call us out of the animal,” Greger writes, invoking the ghost of a poet conjured in “Nights of 1995,” in what could be construed as the motto of a collection filled with what Poetry called “priceless instants where the mundane flares up into the miraculous.”

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