Finalist for The City of Ottawa Book Award
Longlisted for the ReLit Award
Winner of the Saskatchewan Book Award for Publishing
Winner of the Alfred G. Bailey Prize
Fallout embraces the darkness of the 20th century in poems that inhabit both the fear and wonder of that time. On the surface Fallout appears to be about the legacy of the nuclear age yet Ridley writes with a subversive humour that counters the fierceness of her subject. In her world madness intrudes upon the mundane as a Nevada casino shakes during a "test", a white train rumbles through the night transporting nuclear weapons and a couple takes up residence in a vacant nuclear weapons silo. Ridley's poems veer from the terrifying to the tender, the comic and the apocalyptic, the ironic to the philosophical, and the cosmic to the domestic-- often within the same poem. This is an energetic and entertaining new voice in Canadian poetry both insightful and playful by turns. At the heart of the book is an elegiac tone that points to a more hopeful future. The book ends with an award winning sequence of ghazals written about the death of a young sister that leaves the reader breathless.
Alfred G. Bailey Prize, Judge's Citation
"An omnibus tour of those who experienced the atomic test-site blasts held in Nevada in the 1950’s and 60’s. Whether the author’s subjects are a Saskatchewan farming family caught amidst mounting evidence of radioactive fallout making its way north to them, or soldiers paid to be in trenches 2,000 yards from the explosions, or still odder, curiosity seekers who show up to watch and collect souvenirs, the poems never lose sight of what it is to be human, to deal reflexively with events at the edge of a slowly dawning catastrophe. There’s a wealth of quirky but pertinent detail delivered with a bluff matter-of-factness that does much to evoke the eeriness, not only of the test sites, but of the nearby chamber-of-commerce mind-set that regarded atomic testing as plain good business. A subversive humour is intermittently at work as well, countering the fierceness of the subject matter while showcasing such minutiae as government-designed highway on-ramps to accommodate tanks. The twelve excellent poems in “Lift: Ghazals For C”, “No Water”, “Trinity Test Site”, “Atomic Vet”, “Imaginary Friends” and “Miss Atomic 1957” are just a few of the fine poems that make this startling collection tick.”
"The poems in Fallout are phosphorescent and lilting. They drag across the stretch of sky and earth delineated by atomic testing in the 1950s–60s. They shimmer radioactive dust and the space race and alphanumeric codes while shuddering intimacy and pulse and uneasiness. Fallout pulls itself into landscape format through the sheer horizontality of its poems.
The last section, “Lift: Ghazals for C.”(formerly a Jackpine chapbook), is a heart-wrenchingly grief rid. It follows the drift of a child’s illness and death specked up against the quiet sadness of our daily details. It’s an elegy that radiates the day-to-day ache of loss through a tender negotiation with the absent beloved. An absence pooled in the marrow.
The work as a whole feels like prairie. It feels like Vegas. Like breath and science projects gone awry and deep bunkers. A mishmash of nuclear age debris interspersed with moments of achy beauty: barbed wire and thickets. It’s a beautiful book down to the simplest particle." — Christine McNair for the 49th Shelf
"All is not what it seems in this distinctive book....The back cover copy reveals that the collection “appears to be about the legacy of the nuclear age,” and many of the poems do deal with the Fallout the title suggests: illnesses spawned by “Radioactive particles blowing past the Dakotas” and the “blind rabbits, broken Joshua trees” at the Trinity Test Site, for example, but these poems are interspersed between pieces about childhood, rural life, and a broken family, and the book closes with a long poem in ghazal form – “Lift: Ghazals for C.,” – about the poet’s sister who died at age two. The latter text especially showcases Ridley’s strong voice; it was previously published as a Jackpine Press chapbook and earned a bpNichol Chapbook Award (Ridley was co-winner), plus it garnered the poet a finalist position for the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry. Impressive." — Shelley Leedahl for SaskBookReviews