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English Literature

Gillian Clarke: Neighbours

Context

Gillian Clarke is a Welsh poet whose writing often uses natural and rural settings to explore larger themes and ideas, particularly political ideas. She draws on the Welsh landscape and her experience of sheep-farming on the smallholding where she lives in West Wales. She has been the National Poet for Wales since 2008.

The Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in Russia was the site of a massive explosion in 1986. Radiation from the accident killed people and animals from the local area, including six firemen who put out the fires following the explosion. The effect and spread of the disaster can't be accurately predicted after a nuclear accident because radioactive particles can be carried by the wind. They can also get into the water cycle.

The Chernobyl disaster was one of the motivations for the policy of 'glasnost', proposed and developed by the Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev. Glasnost translates as 'openness' and the policy supported the freedom of information. Gorbachev saw a need for openness because Chernobyl residents were not evacuated immediately after the disaster due to the Russian administration's concern to cover up their faults.

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