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Poetic injustice

By Harriet Staff

Each month, a group of Russian left-wing activists and amateur poets gather in a Moscow square to eat chocolates, drink cognac and read politically charged poetry that challenges government policies. The unsanctioned poetry protests are often squelched by riot police  —though the activists’ very purpose in congregating is to peacefully demand constitutional rights and freedoms.

So why  is a group of poets so provocative? “For them, any gathering of people is a meeting, a protest. It’s extremists, potential enemies,” said Matvei Krylov, a member of the banned National Bolshevik party.

From the AFP Newswire:

Krylov opened the latest reading with a poem by a Soviet dissident who died in a prison camp, Yury Galanskov.

“Beaten to the ground, I spit on your iron city, packed with money and dirt,” Krylov shouted on the square, which has been barricaded off by the Moscow city authorities in an apparent move to deter protests.

Titled the “Human Manifesto”, the poem became the unofficial anthem of poetry readings on the same spot during the Khrushchev-era thaw. Galanskov and other dissidents including Vladimir Bukovsky were the initiators.

Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, September 15th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.