Dr Cassandra Atherton is an award-winning writer, academic and critic. She was a Harvard Visiting Scholar in English 2015/2016 and a Visiting Fellow at Sophia University, Tokyo in 2014. She has published 17 critical and creative books and has been invited to edit six special editions of leading journals. She is the successful recipient of many national and international grants and teaching awards including a VicArts grant (2015) and an Australian Council Grant (2016). Her most recent books of prose poetry are Trace (Finlay Lloyd, 2015) and Exhumed (Grand Parade, 2015). She is the current poetry editor of Westerly magazine.

‘Give Back the Human’

Poetic collaboration and hibakusha poems

Testimonies are viewed as essential for recording the experience of atomic warfare. However, hibakusha Keiko Ogura expresses the need for something more than recording and translating these testimonies. She highlights the need for an understanding of the hibakusha experience through a form of virtual collaboration with hibakusha and their stories. Ogura states that this is best achieved via ‘literature, art and poetry’ (Ogura 2015: n.pag.).

This paper discusses why and how we speak about the atomic bomb and argues that virtual collaboration with hibakusha, by writing poetry based on their experiences and publishing it online, encourages empathy and keeps the experience alive for future generations. This paper uses Brandon Shimoda’s curated issue—entitled ‘Hiroshima/Nagasaki’—of Evening Will Come, a monthly online journal of poetics, as a case study.