Notes on the Text
The details of the events surrounding the nuclear accident at Chernobyl are adapted here directly from public records. I have drawn on the comparative statistics from scientific journals to maintain the integrity of the narrative, although I have avoided the use of analytical tables where the evidence can be presented by other means.
In 1986, Lyubov Sirota was living with her young son Alex (called ‘Sasha’) in the city of Pripyat in Soviet Ukraine. On the night of 26 April, while sitting at the open window of her house, she witnessed the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, only 1.5 kilometres distant. They were among the tens of thousands evacuated from the area in the following hours. In the months and years following the events of that night, she and her son suffered the effects of radiation exposure, and came to share the same problematic medical histories as the other citizens of Pripyat and the surrounding region.
In the late 1980s, she published, in Kiev, a small book of ‘Chernobyl’ poems under the title Burden. The poems were first ‘transliterated’ into English by Birgitta Ingemanson, and later translated into English by Elisavietta Ritchie and Leonid Levin, through the auspices of Professor Paul Brians in the United States.
A small-press edition of the poems has been published in the United States, and particular poems have appeared in anthologies linked to scientific or medical studies and to anti-nuclear debate. The poems in “Resurrection Suite” are adapted from the Russian-English versions. Their use in this present context precludes the replication of individual titles, where the presentational sequence of the poems heightens the dramatic narrative within the confines of the historical record. It is fair to say that the poetry here is version rather than translation, although I have tried to maintain the thematic focus of the poems, which is inevitably affected in any case, through the revolutions of text from the original Russian.
The Soviet authorities originally denied the details of the accident, and the extent of the effects of radiation on the rescue teams and on the population in the surrounding area.
To this day, Pripyat remains an abandoned city.