Atom City

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Description

A collection of poems that explore what it means to be from the Atomic City-- a city built atop cleared-out rural communities in East Tennessee during World War II, and with the sole and secretive purpose of enriching uranium for

A collection of poems that explore what it means to be from the Atomic City-- a city built atop cleared-out rural communities in East Tennessee during World War II, and with the sole and secretive purpose of enriching uranium for the atomic bomb. The poems look back to the more isolated Appalachian culture of previous generations, discovering the identity rifts caused by such massive and rushed development. In trying to understand the poet's own cultural inheritance of both nuclear weaponry and an Appalachian hardness, the poems begin to meditate on inhabitation. They ask what it means to live in a country, a local community, a body. The poems travel far beyond the Atomic City's limits, incorporating characters that live, in some sense, at the edge of a community. As he crosses the Atlantic, the Spanish poet Jiménez wonders if either sound or vision are more trustworthy tools for perception; an aging grandmother in Tennessee realizes that she still "drives" her younger body in her dreams; an American woman becomes aroused after touring the killing fields in Cambodia; and the prophet of Oak Ridge, who supposedly predicted the Manhattan Project, considers how his baby daughter has become a thing after death. The various voices show the poet grappling with her own guilt over Hiroshima, and ultimately attempt to understand the limits of both grief and love, how one inherits a tragedy.