Prose from Poetry Magazine

Leave the Manifesto Alone: A Manifesto

Eighth in a series of eight manifestos.

“It’s an aesthetic thing, Poetry answers as we fall asleep, choosing its poems as if you could choose who was worthy to shit on your grave.”

The manifesto is dead. Manifestos are a flashing up of the spirit in a moment of desperate jubilation when the victory of the bourgeoisie is not yet a settled thing. Manifestos are the way the bourgeoisie fights the bourgeoisie in spastic fits, armed with bludgeon, scalpel, and luck. We will not celebrate the end of that era with you. It was not a poetic era, it was a political era. It is this history you wish to seal over with pseudo-celebrations.

Is not Poetry already a manifesto? The well-considered and the well-mannered, the lovely and the liberal, craft and progress: are these not already the manifesto of the bourgeoisie, smeared across every page, every minute of every day? It’s an aesthetic thing, Poetry answers as we fall asleep, choosing its poems as if you could choose who was worthy to shit on your grave. And in our dreams we see Poetry dance on the manifesto’s grave, in the vocabulary of open-mindedness and eclecticism, that bourgeois humanism which is nothing other than the pure hatred of revolution.

The manifesto is obligated to be political at every instant.

To use the forms and worldviews on offer only for bitter mockery.

To be not an alternative to destruction but a complement.

To speak of capitalism and the bourgeoisie, the former as the enemy, the latter defined as the social class which does not want to be named.

To stop wringing its hands over poetry’s lost popularity, that autocritique more stirring than any Maoist’s.

The manifesto is obligated to say There are other countries where poetry still matters! Where the war against the marketplace of capital, against the confirmation of the bourgeoisie as the end of history, endures.

When we say the manifesto we mean poetry and Poetry and poets and our own pathetic selves.

And so like you, oh Poetry, we propose to reanimate the manifesto. We will first require the following things: a century of revolutions. Delight and terror. Shit on the curatorial. Shit on bankers and trusts. Shit on ourselves. We believe in art for art’s sake the same as we believe in destruction as our Beatrice; Mallarmé said them both. Poetry must be as violent and loving as the disease called history with which we infect each other, red and black condoms with the reservoirs cut off. Those who make a manifesto by halves dig their own graves.

     Joshua Clover & Juliana Spahr on behalf of Hate Socialist Collective

Originally Published: January 30th, 2009

Hate Socialist Collective is a loose international gathering of artist, theorists, and activists interested by the narrow channels of political thought on offer in much contemporary culture, amused by hysterical paralysis of liberalism, and dedicated to rejuvenating the ruthless critique of all that exists.

Appeared in Poetry Magazine This Appears In
Related Content
  1. February 1, 2009
     Helena Nelson

    Was that "reanimation" actually saying

    anything? Perhaps I somehow missed it

    among the spatterings of language.

    In Scotland, when we want to describe

    "shit" with real passion, we call it Shite.

    Then run around and drink a lot of whisky.

    I considered having that reaction to this

    manifesto. But then I got bored.

  2. February 3, 2009
     Nick Piombino

    A Manifesto of Listening

    The estimated number of websites in

    the world is about 156,000,000. Our

    era is undergoing an explosive process

    of decentralization in every area of

    intellectual and artistic expression.

    Manifestoes flourished at a time when

    popular self-expression was first

    opening pathways to the possibility of

    an individualistic and non-conformist

    voice. Perhaps what is needed now is

    a manifesto of listening, a manifesto

    of noticing and identifying significant

    literary manifestations world-wide.

  3. February 3, 2009

    The manifesto has always been a zombie, a dead thing chewing on the thoughts and thought-artifacts of the living, taking any continued animation after the original travesty of birth from what it can devour and make equally undead.

  4. February 5, 2009
     Kent Johnson

    MLA Revolutionaries M. Clover and Mlle Spahr are late to the "Collective" party!

    Forsooth, their always-already lateness, as it were, is remarked upon here:


    The feneon collective [Unified Body] offers nearly 200 faits divers about poets, promising more.

    And no Hate is involved. Only an affable insouciance...


  5. February 18, 2009
     Fred Sasaki

    See the video for "Leave the Manifesto Alone: A Manifesto" here:

  6. February 25, 2009



    and so all green and curvy inveigled

    that dim little couple Adam and Eve

    starting that whole eons progression

    foolishness envy lust avarice murder

    think the snake knew consequences?

    snots stink in the nostrils by chance?

    true love does not have blood in eyes

    love lives and suffers from ignorance

    Rosie the Riveter sweating wartimes

    jobs wonders how her children learn

    smarmy fart snake feels it don’t stink

    callow couple duo acts down the sink.


  7. February 26, 2009
     Edward Mycue


    The enemy of my enemy

    is my friend. The friend

    of my enemy is my enemy.

    The friend of my friend is

    my friend (unless that

    friend is a friend of the

    friend of my enemy). The

    feud of my family is

    a breach in the friendship

    of my blood. My blood is

    enemy, world, my despair.

    Where is a pulse for peace?

    Edward Mycue

  8. February 27, 2009
     A Critic

    Please don't post poetry as commentary.

    It's very tasteless. If you want to get

    poetry on this website please go through

    the proper submission process. If your

    poetry doesn't get accepted then take it

    to other publications. Otherwise, your

    selling yourself short, and presenting

    your work in a very foolish manner (it

    comes across as desperate).

  9. February 28, 2009
     Edward Mycue

    A Critic who posts who posts without revealing identification is hiding.


    Edward Mycue

  10. March 5, 2009
     Dan Breene

    This is but the the vicious spatterings of bloody-minded children. I hope their revolution comes and consumes them as revolutions always do. Except one. Long live the Constitution of the United States of America and God preserve it from animals like this.

  11. April 4, 2009
     davideberhardt- balto poet/act

    “Once to Every Man and Nation”

    Dave remakes the hymn:”Once to every man and nation”Now politically correct- still moving: dave’s additions, transmogrifications in parens)

    poem by James Russell Lowell (protesting America’s war w Mexico- with apologies to James)-music tune nicknamed EBENEZER (one name like a Brazilian soccer star)- actually Ebenezer was arranged by Thomas John Williams, a Welsh organist. An Ebenezer is a stone of salvation after the stone monument erected by Samuel after a successful battle with the Philistines- it’s in the Bible.

    “Once to every man (woman, trangendered person, animule, life form) comes the moment to decide.
    In the strife of truth with falsehood (right wing, capitalist sh t/crap) for the good or evil side.
    Some great cause-God’s (goddess, Buddha, Muhammed, Wiccan, abyss, nothing, quarks, muons,) ) God’s new Messiah (Berrigan, King, (insert whomever for occasion), offering each the bloom or blight,
    And (I love this part) the choice goes by forever ‘twixt that darkness and that light.

    Stanza 2: (Now picture this) By the light of burning martyrs. Jesus bleeding feet I track. (can you believe the Unitarians have softened and changed the words in this hymn)
    Toiling up new Calvaries (movement/struggles, revolutions) ever
    With the cross that turns not back.
    New occasions teach new duties (don’t forget education), time makes ancient good uncouth (there’s a stretch for a rhyme James),
    They must onward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.
    (o yes)(still true!!!).

    Stanza 3 Though the cause of evil (right wing stuff) prosper (how true), yet tis truth a lone is strong (never forget it).
    Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong!!! (hmm- who’s on the throne right about now?)
    Yet that scaffold sways the future (think of John Brown at Charlestown) and behind the dim unknown (evolution, other planets more successful than ours?)
    Standeth God (goddess, Buddha, Muhammed, Wiccan, abyss, nothing, quarks, muons, ) within the shadow keeping watch above his/hers/its own (let’s hope so)

  12. April 4, 2009
     davideberhardt poet/activist b

    I posted the above "manifesto" of a sort....then went back and read all previous posts which i found to b fairly incomprehensible. And not very poetic.
    Brecht is an example of good manifesto poetry.
    Poetry should be revolutionary- especially in these captialist, right wing days and this country.
    But it could also be complex and beautiful- I even like John Asberry-I just think that if it's on the right it won't be beautiful. Have there been any right wing poets? Heinrich von Kleist, maybe ..but he was, as I said- f'd up.