Ignoring the Bomb: New and Selected Poems


135 pages
ISBN 0-88982-046-5





Reviewed by Michael O. Nowlan

Michael O. Nowlan was a teacher and writer in Oromocto, New Brunswick.


Lionel Kearns, who was born in British Columbia in 1937, has been influenced and nurtured through the astonishing network of literary movements on Canada’s west coast. Although he has published several chapbooks of verse, Ignoring the Bomb is his first major collection; it features many new and some selected poems.

From the title and the author’s preface, it is quickly obvious that Lionel Kearns is greatly troubled by the possibility of a nuclear holocaust. In the opening poem, he echoes that sentiment:

In these days of vapour trails and statistics

we raise a few flowers and children

as fast as we can.

This feeling of haste to avoid an impending world disaster is as real to Kearns as daily problems are to the rest of us. This is not intended to mock Kearns’ substance in any way. Rather, it is meant to give it more emphasis. The voice is genuine.

These utterances are the constructions of a troubled voice. Although they try to celebrate life, the realistic human element shadows celebration with death or doom. Some of the poems are ramblings on self-designed tragedies, while others are the product of rebellion. “Environment” best captures the sense of warning the poetic voice hurls: “I’m just telling you what’s going on / so you won’t be too surprised when it happens.”

Ignoring the Bomb is a provocative and sensitive portrayal of one man’s determination to save the world.


Kearns, Lionel, “Ignoring the Bomb: New and Selected Poems,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/38535.