There have been a few attempts with poetry with regards to Jonestown but none could compare to Teri Buford O'Shea, a Jonestown survivor. She had escaped or defected three weeks prior to the Jonestown Massacre on November 18,1978.
Since the tragedy in 1978, Teri has written poetry in order to cope with the devastation of the loss and trauma of her past. Her poetry is a vast array of topics from her childhood, her daughter, and Jonestown which is never far from her mind obviously.
Poetry is difficult to write and interpret but Teri's a natural born poet here. She is on par with some of the finest poets in history. She writes from the heart and soul about people who meant so much in her life. Poetry is her chosen art form and it suits her well. There have been others to write about Jonestown in poetic form but none can match her passion or her depth here even with simplicity in writing style.
The second half of the book is the photographs, black and white and haunting. There is another side to Jonestown often overlooked or forgotten by the sensationalism of the tragic events of November 18,1978. As we approach another anniversary (33 years since 918 human lives were lost forever), we should again and analyze Jonestown as a human event. A third of the losses were children under 18 years old even infants.
The photographs also show a human side such as the work done in Jonestown; the babies born in the Jonestown medical center; children; and even a photograph of Jim Jones surrounded by the people of Jonestown. You can't come across from looking at these photographs without feeling their loss.
For those of us who study Jonestown and the Peoples Temple, this book is an essential piece of the puzzle about Jonestown. There are some prose pieces to help explain Jonestown and the Peoples Temple. A few of her friends have written on her behalf about who Teri Buford O'Shea really is.
Teri Buford O'Shea is a survivor and she was one of Jim Jones's right hand at times. In the end, she survived and lived to tell her story and their stories as well. She became a social worker and dedicated to making a better world.
A lot of us would like the opportunity to improve our society and the Peoples Temple was home to many who wanted a better world. It was not just a cult but a community of well-meaning members who went to the jungles of South America in order to create a utopia of their own.
I encourage anybody who is interested in Jonestown and Peoples Temple to read this book and look at the pictures. There were humans who are now lost forever and taken before their time under difficult circumstances. This book is definitely the best poetry compilation of Jonestown so far.