Nuclear Seasons


92 pages
ISBN 0-920813-61-5
DDC C811'.54




Reviewed by Bob Lincoln

Bob Lincoln is Director of Acquisitions at the University of Manitoba


This collection speaks with the voice of a woman preoccupied with
justice. Espinet’s poems target men, merchants of death, the military,
and her own African/Indian heritage in a style that is closer to oratory
than poetry, and with a consistent vision that contrasts the male
destroyer and the nurturing female. The poet uses some colloquialisms
that are peculiar to Trinidad and includes a glossary for the reader’s

Espinet’s poems include repetitive images and recurrent dramas. She
views women as nurturers who bring peace, as in the title poem, and
speaks out against the oppressor, whom she describes as wearing hobnail
boots; his just fate is to be doused in Agent Orange. The poem advocates
wrestling the world away from those who have corrupted it by training
the daughters of the world to mount a rescue operation.

The vision and style of this collection is quite limited and has few
surprises. Espinet’s poems scan much like the lines in Allen
Ginsberg’s “Howl,” but her images, while forceful in a declaratory
fashion, are ordinary and predictable. The male aggressor speaks with a
forked tongue. He has steel-blue (or iron-blue) eyes. In “Spirit
Lash,” the war against the green earth is waged by “germs,
sickle-cell splicing, mosquitos, / napalm, pesticides, ddt, microchips,
/ food chains, gene pools.” The effect of Espinet’s language, once
the oratory is isolated, is to create a confused and ordinary message
better left to prose pamphleteers. There is no subtlety at work in the
language, and little depth of thought. While her themes are on a grand
scale, her poems work on a much simpler level. Compare Espinet’s poems
to those of Robert Hayden, who wrote about the slave trade and the
experiences of being colored in a white society, and draw your own


Espinet, Ramabai., “Nuclear Seasons,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 16, 2024,