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Saturday, 6 October 2012

Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot

In protest at the disproportionate and injust incarceration of three members of Russian punk band Pussy Riot, and as a gesture of solidarity with Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich, the magnificent English PEN have released Catechism: Poems for Pussy Riot. Commissioned, curated and edited by UK poets Mark Burnhope, Sarah Crewe and Sophie Mayer, this collection has drawn together a huge range of writers, asked them to pen responses to the situation and then encouraged said poets to pose in balaclavas in support of perhaps the three most famous devotchkas out there right now. The resulting anthology has been flagged up by the US Poetry Foundation and The Guardian, and continues to grow in stature and support. With contributions from as far afield as Kenya and Austria, Catechism has become a borderless project, uniting poets from across the globe. Indeed, many translators have stepped up to provide Russian versions of the poems. A group of the poets involved conducted a protest outside the Russian Embassy in London on 1 October, on what was originally scheduled as the girls' appeal date (since moved to 10 October). You can see videos of that protest here, as captured by contributor S. J. Fowler:

 

New Pussy Riot poems are being posted on the English PEN website every day. Catechism is available in e-book format for a donation and in sexy hard copy for a mere £7.95 plus p&p. You can also follow English PEN on Twitter (@englishpen) and search by the hashtag #freepussyriot for further updates on the case.

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