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Good News: Pussy Riot’s New Book, A Punk Prayer for Freedom, Might Have a Prophetic Title

By Harriet Staff

Just as Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has called for the three members of the punk band Pussy Riot to be freed, CUNY’s Feminist Press announces what will surely be a must-read in their forthcoming A Punk Prayer for Freedom. The book (and ebook, which will be available in less than two weeks) features letters, poems, and tributes from all manner of band member and supporter alike (perhaps Yoko Ono? Eileen Myles?), with profits from the sale to support the Pussy Riot legal defense team. Here’s the release:

On February 21, 2012, five members of a Russian feminist punk collective Pussy Riot staged a performance in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. Dressed in brightly colored tights and balaclavas, they performed their “Punk Prayer” asking the Virgin Mary to drive out Russian president Vladimir Putin from the church. After just forty seconds, they were chased out by security. Once a retooled video of the events circulated on YouTube (edited to seem much longer than the actual performance), the state was riled into action. Three members of the collective, Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, known as Masha, Nadya, and Katya, were arrested and charged with felony hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, an offense carrying a sentence of up to seven years. As their trial unfolded, these young women became global feminist icons, garnering the attention and support of activists and artists around the world, including Madonna, Paul McCartney, and Sting, as well as contributors to this book: Yoko Ono, Johanna Fateman, Karen Finley, Justin Vivian Bond, Eileen Myles, and JD Samson. The Internet exploded with petitions, music videos, and calls to action, and as the guilty verdict was anticipated, Pussy Riot responded with articulate, unwavering courtroom statements, calling for freedom of expression, an end to economic and gender oppression, and a separation of church and state. They were sentenced to two years in prison, and inspired a global movement. Collected here are the words that roused the world.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, September 13th, 2012 by Harriet Staff.