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Pussy Riot Mentions Influence of Poets in Closing Statements

By Harriet Staff

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you probably know that after protesting Vladimir Putin’s leadership in an Orthodox cathedral, three members of the feminist punk-rock band Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in prison last Friday. What you may not know is that the band members cited poetry as one of their main inspirations. GalleyCat has the scoop:

[Band member] Nadezhda Tolokonnikova wrote about the Russian absurdist poetry movement, Oberiu. These poets were also suppressed by the government in the mid-20th Century…

Katya, Masha and I may be in prison, but I do not consider us defeated. Just as the dissidents were not defeated; although they disappeared into mental institutions and prisons, they pronounced their verdict upon the regime. The art of creating the image of an epoch does not know winners or losers. It was the same with the OBERIU poets, who remained artists until the end, inexplicable and incomprehensible … Pussy Riot are [Alexander Vvedensky]’s students and heirs. His principle of the bad rhyme is dear to us. He wrote, “Occasionally, I think of two different rhymes, a good one and a bad one, and I always choose the bad one because it is always the right one.”

Band member Maria Alyokhina cited the poet Joseph Brodsky in her final statement. Brodsky served time in a Russian labor camp and was exiled from the country in 1972…

Alyokhina wrote:

I would like to point out that very similar methods were used during the trial of the poet [Joseph] Brodsky. His poems were defined as “so-called” poems; the witnesses for the prosecution hadn’t actually read them—just as a number of the witnesses in our case didn’t see the performance itself and only watched the clip online. Our apologies, it seems, are also being defined by the collective prosecuting body as “so-called” apologies. Even though this is offensive.

Read the full article here.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 by Harriet Staff.