Although Tōge Sankichi’s name is the only one on the cover, the poet would have been the first to admit that that Atom Bomb Poetry resulted from his collaboration with a diverse network of people. Artist and Army vet Shikoku Gorō designed the cover and illustrations. Tōge and Shikoku’s shared commitment to using art to better society had developed as part of their involvement in Our Poems Circle, the group of young local aspiring poets & poets pictured here.
This famous Hiroshima circle constituted a node in a nationwide grassroots movement of “democratic culture” that evolved as part of post-war democracy. During the late 1940s and 1950s, civically-engaged cultural circles cropped up in communities throughout Japan. They had in common (1) democratic cultural formations that were inclusive and egalitarian, and rejected the hierarchy of the elite literary and art establishments; (2) practice centering on action in public space and mobile means of expressive arts, such as books, journals, plays, poetry readings, and street art, and (3) sustainability through fluid formation and dissolution, along with resilience in shifting political, media, historical, and aesthetic environments.