Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50: Poems

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Description

Named a "Best Book of 2019" by the New York Public Library

In March 2011, a tsunami caused by an earthquake collided with nearby power plant Fukushima Daiichi, causing the only nuclear disaster in history to rival Chernobyl in scope. Those who stayed at the plant to stabilize the reactors, willing to sacrifice their lives, became known internationally as the Fukushima 50.

In tsunami vs. the fukushima 50, Lee Ann Roripaugh takes a piercing, witty, and ferocious look into the heart of the disaster. Here we meet its survivors and victims, from a pearl-catcher to a mild-mannered father to a drove of mindless pink robots. And then there is Roripaugh's unforgettable Tsunami: a force of nature, femme fatale, and "annihilatrix." Tsunami is part hero and part supervillain--angry, loud, forcefully defending her rights as a living being in contemporary industrialized society. As humanity rebuilds in disaster's wake, Tsunami continues to wreak her own havoc, battling humans' self-appointed role as colonizer of Earth and its life-forms.

"She's an unsubtle thief / a giver of gifts," Roripaugh writes of Tsunami, who spits garbage from the Pacific back into now-pulverized Fukushima. As Tsunami makes visible her suffering, the wrath of nature scorned, humanity has the opportunity to reconsider the trauma they cause Earth and each other. But will they look?

Product Details

Price: $16.00  $14.72
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Published Date: March 12, 2019
Pages: 120
Dimensions: 5.4 X 0.5 X 8.4 inches | 0.35 pounds
Language: English
Type: Paperback
ISBN: 9781571314857
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

Lee Ann Roripaugh is the author of four previous collections of poems, including Dandarians. Her first collection, Beyond Heart Mountain, was selected by Ishmael Reed as a National Poetry Series winner. Her second collection, Year of the Snake, was named winner of the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award. Her third book, On the Cusp of a Dangerous Year, was lauded as "masterful" and a "gorgeous canticle" (Maura Stanton). And then most recently, her fourth collection of poems, Dandarians, was described as "a work of beauty and resilience" (Srikanth Reddy). Roripaugh has received an Archibald Bush Foundation Artist Fellowship, the Frederick Manfred Award from the Western Literature Association, the Randall Jarrell International Poetry Prize, and an Academy of American Poets prize. She serves as Editor-in-Chief of the South Dakota Review and directs the creative writing program at the University of South Dakota, as well as being the state's Poet Laureate. She resides in Vermillion.

Reviews

Praise for tsunami vs. the fukushima 50

"[A] visionary narrative . . . tsunami vs. the fukushima 50 excites with its rich pop culture references in service to the poignant lessons about fear and the various human responses to vulnerability." --Rigoberto Gonzalez, On the Seawall

"A playful and inventive portrait of nature's fierce and humorous indifference toward humanity and its accessories." --NYPL.org (Best Books of 2019)

"In Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50, a book that crackles with imaginative language and mythological retellings that represent real-life disaster, Roripaugh offers the audience a new way to think about nuclear and natural disasters and the remnants and ghosts that remain in their wake." --The Rumpus

"[tsunami vs. the fukushima 50] succeeds--and opens itself up . . . as a series of monster, superhero, and supervillain portraits, each a kind of allegory about how human beings respond to disaster, some based on how human beings really did respond in Japan, as well as on movies and mainstream American comics. --Stephanie Burt, Yale Review

"[Roripaugh's] poems do not assert control over or claim to understand the natural world. Instead, they offer us a way to reckon with larger-than-life forces of nature . . . [they] resist not the supposed knowability of women, or of nature, but the attempt to render either woman or nature 'knowable.'" --Los Angeles Review of Books

"[Roripaugh's] taken as her subject the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster--and the people who risked their lives to prevent conditions from worsening. It's a thematically rich and moving moment in history, powerfully channeled into words on a page."--Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"tsunami vs. the fukushima 50 interrogates the 2011 disaster with unswerving gaze . . . The collection gives voice to the colonized, the irradiated, the monstrous--seeking throughout to understand how language can endeavor representing immense trauma."--Frontier Poetry

"With tsunami vs. the fukushima 50, Lee Ann Roripaugh has written us poetry to infect us as we consume with a momentous voracity that [which] turns its own page."--Arkansas International

"The title of Lee Ann Roripaugh's new book, tsunami vs. the fukushima 50, well evokes the gravely zany hijinks of these shapeshifting poems. Mothra, guilt-ridden Marvel beta-heroes, elderly pearl divers, and irradiated power plant workers orbit chaotically in the upheaval of the November 2011 tsunami--an upheaval that has never stopped happening. Female and fatal, the tsunami is mother, goddess, monster; she takes everything into her body until her body is revealed to be the whole sad, captivating world: 'reclining in a froth of surf, / loose hair swirling around bare / shoulders, my eyes half-closed.'"--Joyelle McSweeney

"The elemental force of Lee Ann Roripaugh's latest collection will sweep readers into the churning waters of her vibrant poetic imagination. Evoking the joint disasters of a tsunami and the resulting damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, ghosts and the long legacy of the atomic age address the readers in vibrant monologues and personas. The poems in turn remind us of the responsibility we each have to keenly preserve our humanity, even in the face of possible annihilation. Roripaugh's poetry insists on our ancient struggle to find meaning and even joy in the wake of loss."--Oliver de la Paz

"The suffering caused by the Fukushima nuclear disaster and tsunami are transformed into an essential book of poetry by Lee Ann Roripaugh. In these moving poems, Roripaugh explores the enduring spirit of those affected by the tsunami and the cruel irony in the ways this disaster echoes the suffering caused by the atomic bombs. This book haunts the reader with its intimate voices and intense unforgettable images."--David Mura

Praise for Dandarians

"What happens when verbicide meets genocide? In Dandarians, Lee Ann Roripaugh's brilliant fourth book, the poet's lovely, lyrical wordplay reveals its origins in political and familial dissent. Roripaugh guides readers through dangerous territory, where clouds 'dervish off the sagebrushed plains' and 'strangeness makes me a moving target.' Here's the clash of cultures written on the body of a daughter: 'Prismed through the scrim of my mother's Japanese accent, I think dandelions are Dandarians . . . when I tell you I'm an alien . . . I am, of course, mostly joking.' Reading feels like breaking rules, rules that separate us from others: 'Do you have a permission tree? Is it blooming?' Believe this poet when she tells you what she knows."--Carol Guess

"In her fourth collection, Dandarians, Lee Ann Roripaugh mobilizes the Japanese haibun to investigate the dialectic of trauma and care that gives rise to a particularly luminous poetic sensibility. There is the culture shock of the mixed-ethnicity child who inherits her Asian mother's mispronunciation of 'dandelions, ' transforming one invasive species into an interplanetary race of 'Dandarians.' ('If you're not careful, ' writes Roripaugh, 'I'll take over your garden'). There is also the trauma of abuse, of a woman forced 'to repeat the things that were done to me that I have no names for yet.' And yet the compound fractures of history are continuously mended by the grace of this writer's wit--'I love the word antimacassar, though I have no use for antimacassars themselves'--and her openness to the shocks of beauty that surround us. Who else could see a caterpillar dangling from its silk thread as 'a showgirl in the Ziegfield follies straddling a glittering sliver of moon'? Dandarians is a work of beauty and resilience: the beauty of resilience, and the resilience of beauty."--Srikanth Reddy

"Pleasure and danger and recollected frustration, the prismatic color of the Great Plains, the allure of exoplanets and the generative powers that wait in a child's solecisms and mispronunciations: those are only some of the 'favorite things' (as Coltrane did not put it) in Lee Ann Roripaugh's best book yet, a takeup of prose poems and lyric essays at once exuberant about tomorrow, about the sexy detail all over the visible and audible world, and serious about childhood, about her family's tough yesterdays. Here are pages to cherish simply for the way they make up words, or put words together (fish solfège!) but here, too, is the resonant voice of a newly confident author: Roripaugh's associations, juxtapsitions, recollections, digressions take her from purple riverbanks to stark regret and back to present-day starshine: 'I'll take over your garden, ' the poet promises. You'd do well to let her in."--Stephanie Burt

"I am completely in awe of and in love with Lee Ann Roripaugh's Dandarians, of the perfection of her images, the intensity of her language, the glittering and gorgeous union of these two. I stall and stutter, a willing captive to her phrases. She writes, 'Sun's cold high beam glaring everywhere--ricocheting off snow, stretching sky's dome like a taut blue balloon, sluicing in through every window.' There is so much to say that this book is about; there is so much to say that this book does. I loved reading about Roripaugh's linguistical mishaps, of her experiences, so akin to mine, of being a half. I loved being a Dandarian, enmeshed in Roripaugh's Dee Asters."--Jenny Boully