WW1 Event At Manchester Library

Tonight I was very honoured to be reading at a WW1 poetry event as part of Flapjack press alongside some amazing poets Tony Sheppard, Gerry Potter, Sarah Miller and Ben Mellor here is a poemI wrote especially for the event.

For the Radium Girls who suffered radiation poisoning as a result of painting dials for glow in the dark watches for American service men in Europe during WW1 Their ex employers claimed they all had syphilis instead of the occupational condition called radium jaw. Their legal action set precedent for employers responsibility to employees suffering from occupational diseases.

They painted glow in the dark dials for the new wristwatches
Accuracy in the dark for American soldiers in Europe’s trenches
The radium girls who painted their teeth to amuse their beaus
Soon lost them their jaws and voices too
They were branded faithless and diseased

A brazen glow of a lie from men who knew
Their words carried more weight, gold weight
Who would rather cast women into disrepute
Than admit fault as war profiteers

The bitter luminescence was known as UnDark
Taught to point the brushes with a kiss or a tongue
When scientists were shielded gloves and tongs
They knew about the match girls in London

Radium is absorbed like calcium a tricking poison
Bones that lived for thirty years then dissolved
Lie in graves with half-lives of five hundred


About Quad

The Stirred quad is formed of Rebecca Audra Smith, Anna Percy, Jasmine Chatfield and Lenni Sanders.
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