Myanmar/ Burma coup 2021: some resources

Yangon street protests

In the wake of the military regime’s overthrow of Myanmar’s elected institutions, the violent repression of the people supporting those institutions through peaceful protests, and the massive incarcerations that have followed, IWP wishes, in keeping with its mission statement, to speak in support of our many Burmese/Myanma alumni participating in this struggle. On this page we record some of their voices, and link to some relevant resources:

Sign the petition on calling on the junta to release the prisoners.
• A statement of protest signed by 83 Myanma poets, several IWP alumni among them.
• “Poets Against Dictatorship” — protest poetry in the streets (video, 8 minutes; subtitled).
• IWP Director Christopher Merrill on the evolving situation in Myanmar in Dallas Morning News (3/18/21), IPR’s “River to River” (3/19/21) and PRI’s “The World” (3/24)
• A May 25, 2021 New York Times piece on the systematic and brutal persecution of Burmese poets in particular.
• On June 14th, IWP and Asia Society co-hosted an evening of readings in support of the Myanma writers killed or arrested following the military coup earlier this year.Among readers are Reading are Esther Dischereit, Rafael Jesús González, Joy Harjo, Robert Hass, Elfriede Jelinek, Brenda Hillman, Khet Mar, David St. John, Ko Ko Thett, Kinga Tóth and others.

In a wider circle:
  • Two recent, timely, interviews with poet, translator, editor and activist, IWP alum ko ko thett, in Tupelo Quarterly and Cha.

  • In World Literature Today, editor and translator James Byrne writes on the actions of people in the streets of Myanma cities and in the Rohingya refugee camps.

  • Requiem for Justice: An International Rally of Artists, Thinkers, and Activists Against Injustice,streamed live September 18-19,2021. Among contributors are the Burmese poets and activists Ma Thida ("Better Democracy?") and Khet Mar ("A Flower Revoution").

Spring 2022:: the first anniversary of the coup:
  • The military regime in Myanmar continues its crackdown on creative artists, begun in February of last year. More than a year has now passed since the arrest and detention of poet and IWP ’15 alum Maung Yu Py/Mg Yu Py/Mg Yu Pie, on politically-motivated charges; and last month, two more prominent authors, detained since the day of the coup, were given multi-year jail sentences. If you want to learn more, a valuable place to start is a study released in December 2021 by PEN America, which frames this most recent retaliation by the military within the country’s “long history of creative expression and protest.”
  • A brief introduction to the long tradition of poetry of resistance in Myanmar, its explosive potential, and the detonator strand of survivors' guilt tying it to the current generation of poets.

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