So Bright to Blind–Kyle Laws

So Bright to Blind frontcov-01In these poems, Kyle Laws excavates the Western landscape to reveal the effects of the atomic bomb. Here is the Trinity site. Here are poems about the pictures taken of the blast, testing the bomb that would go on to be dropped on Nagasaki. Here are those vast deserts of the early- and mid-twentieth century with the personalities who populated them: J. Robert Oppenheimer, Georgia O’Keefe, Zane Grey, and John Wayne. Laws’ poems explode on the page; one even plays with form to mimic the atomic reaction of nuclear energy, words whipping up energy as they are scattered across pages. Kyle Laws’ So Bright to Blind also chronicles what we lose as a society when our frames of reference are too narrow, and, when this is the case, the preserving role of art as witness and as a reason to keep living despite the ravages of our “science” to the earth and human bodies. She juxtaposes American efforts to achieve civilization through technology, food, and art with our atomic bomb design, whose “firing mechanism was only / an elaborate gun.” In doing so, Laws catalogues a raw episode in American history when, in the name of progress, our Western “shoot-em-up” attitude finally went too far.

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