The Place of the Arts in a Time of Catastrophe
Whole Day Programme with ecological writer Peter Reason in Queen Square
BOOK LAUNCH : Splitting Sunlight by Susan Jane Sims ( confirmed)
When Susan Jane Sims’ son was diagnosed with terminal cancer in February 2015, she began to keep a poem diary to record events, because what else can a poet do but bear witness. The resulting collection is an account of lives being lived in the shadow of illness. It is also a narrative of courage and hope.
Reviews so far:
In Splitting Sunlight, Susan Jane Sims has transformed the searing grief experienced during her beloved son’s diagnosis with melanoma, his final illness and his subsequent death, into pure poetic gold. Splitting Sunlight is devastating in its honesty and extraordinary in the courage with which it faces loss in order to give it shape and meaning. A work of life-affirming alchemy. Susan Castillo Street, Harriet Beecher Stowe Professor Emerita, King’s College London
Poetry is there for us perhaps most when things are impossible, are unnamable but the soul needs to name that something just beyond reach of the tongue. These poems reach into numbness, impossibility, acceptance and mortality, not with bravery but with something more solid and human, a mother’s love and unaskable/unanswerable questions regarding the life and death of her son. John Siddique, author of Full Blood
Sample poem: Sunlight in the witness box
Sunlight, do you swear to tell the truth,
the whole truth, and nothing but?
Yes, I swear.
Did you harm Mark?
Harm him? No, I warmed him up. I kept his bones strong.
I nourished him with sticky fruit and ripened grains.
Did you ever entice him to stay too long within your rays?
Did you beguile him with images of tanned bodies?
Did you tell him this was healthy?
Not at all. I never set out to deceive
but it’s hard for me to warn people.
My heat rays fail to burn; it’s my cool ultraviolet rays,
that damage cells.