Monday, 1 October 2012

Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot

Edited by Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, and with an introduction by George Szirtes, Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot is an anthology published in e-book and PDF versions by English PEN today, 1 October 2012 - thus marking the hearing of the three Pussy Riot members' appeal against their prison sentence. I am one of 110 poets contributing to this resonant collection, a full Russian translation of which is being sent to Maria Alyokhina, Yekaterina Samutsevich and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.

Though publication is free, the anthology is distributed on the Pay-What-You-Think-It's-Worth model. Please consider donating what you can afford. Proceeds go to the Pussy Riot legal fund and the English PEN Writers at Risk programme.

On being asked to contribute, initially, to a portfolio of poems to be sent to the three women in prison, I decided to offer 'Sleepwalker on Stage' from Spitting Out the Mother Tongue. I like to think that the poem lends itself to multiple readings, and though it was written out of a different set of concerns it immediately suggested itself to me as a valid contribution. The meaning and implications of the Punk Prayer have been constantly on my mind since the women's detainment, and this poem strives towards capturing the confusion that greets potentially transformative acts such as the Punk Prayer, followed by the awakening of a spirit that drives change, and a re-alignment of attitudes. I declined a temptation to adapt it to reflect issues of gender, even though gender is clearly embedded into the protest and the collective Pussy Riot in general.

Read Sophie Mayer's note in The Guardian of last Saturday, and listen to Sarah Hesketh's account of the project on BBC Radio Ulster.

And please download the anthology, share news of its publication, and add your own voice in any way possible to help FREE PUSSY RIOT!

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