Organ Harvest

Organ Harvest
edition of 100, ISBN 978-1-9999784-0-2
44 pages, 210 x 140 mm, laminated cover, saddle stitched

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A book of poems about the forced removal of human organs from prisoners of conscience in China

A book of verse by Damian Robin telling many of the unheard dilemmas facing people caught in China’s state-wide human organ trade.

It is based on research by Nobel Peace Prize 2017 nominee Ethan Gutmann, and previous Nobel nominees David Kilgour, David Matas, and Doctors Against Forced Organ Harvesting (DAFOH); and other sources.

Many of the poems are imagined in the voices of those killed, those receiving organs, medical professionals, and those who police and manage the system.

To make sense of this secretive industry, the common structures of traditional European verse are used: set rhyme and meter and repeated stanza schemes. Most are sonnets. Staunch traditionalists may wince at the definition of sonnet for the poet has played with inversions, parallels, and mirroring of thyme schemes and content as well as using the volta or turn.

Meter is predominantly iambic pentameter. One poem has stanzas of three lines each containing three, five, and seven syllables with the same rhyme, reminiscent of haiku. To ghost the forced extraction of organs, this is rigidly adhered to, even breaking words to force the count and rhyme.

The collection is in the format of a polemical chapbook, with clean, restrained typography. The st ligature, and the & ampersand of the Baskerville typeface are used to imitate untidy sewing in surgery. The lowercase letter ‘a’ is poignantly printed in red on selected pages.

The author Damian Robin studied typography, typesetting, printmaking, and bookbinding at the London College of Printing in the 1970s. He specialised in book art and artists books at the Royal College of Art. Working with artist Katya Robin on the design of Organ Harvest, the ethos of classic print typography is applied to digital book production.

“This is a profound and remarkable contribution to human rights. The book is an amazing piece of multi- dimensional art”
Masha Savtiz, author  (Fish Eyes for Pearls) and filmmaker (Red Reign)

is the first poem in Organ Harvest


a is in artery
a is in heart
a is in the lungs’ depart
a is in kidneys’ acquisition
a is in liver’s amputation

a is at the end of cornea
a is in take out / replace
a is in a hospital theatre
a repeats in database

a is in medical procedure
a is in surgeon’s hand
a is in a scalpel
a is on demand

a is no pain relief
a is in transplant twice
a is beyond belief
a is in organ price

a is in abundance
a is in look away
a is in China

Transplant Assistant

Inside the clanging gates of the hospital,
the new, expanded transplant wing, the nurse,
whose eyes are sunken and responsible,
twists round and makes her family car reverse.

She parks … Shady branch-held leaves hold still …
The hooded, hard-worked engine waves its haze.
Her palm-push slams the door. Cold and ill,
the anchored strain’s been pulling over days.

Not to know was bliss. To add up flaws
was sick. Now unambiguous facts are rife,
she curdles. Smelling disinfected floors
won’t mop her mind. She’s sure she’s taking life.

This theft, her work, should stop. But who to trust
to take where vacant carcasses combust?

Ethan Gutmann
David Kilgour
David Matas
Matthew Robertson