Poetry has a long history in the anarchist tradition. It is often through poetry that we find ways to say the things we can’t say with prose, whether for fear or simply because they can’t be expressed properly that way.
Fits of emotion are a part of radical politics, and for many it is these emotions that drive our commitment to building a free world. Rather than shy away from our rage at injustice, our joy at living, or our longing for freedom, we should embrace these emotions and the truth that they carry.
Take, for instance, Voltairine de Cleyre’s last poem before her death, dedicated to Mexican activists during the Mexican Revolution: “Written in Red”
Written in red their protest stands,
For the gods of the World to see;
On the dooming wall their bodiless hands
have blazoned “Upharsin,” and flaring brands
Illumine the message: “Seize the lands!
Open the prisons and make men free!”
Flame out the living words of the dead
Gods of the World! Their mouths are dumb!
Your guns have spoken and they are dust.
But the shrouded Living, whose hearts were numb,
have felt the beat of a wakening drum
Within them sounding-the Dead men’s tongue—
Calling: “Smite off the ancient rust!”
Have beheld “Resurrexit,” the word of the Dead,
Bear it aloft, O roaring, flame!
Skyward aloft, where all may see.
Slaves of the World! Our cause is the same;
One is the immemorial shame;
One is the struggle, and in One name—
MANHOOD— we battle to set men free.
“Uncurse us the Land!” burn the words of the Dead,
In this spirit, C4SS will be featuring anarchist poetry throughout the month of May. There is of course still much to be gained from studies, commentary, and analysis, but we’re excited to now also include poetry in our exploration of anarchy.
We will pay $25 for each submission published, or you can donate your writer fee to Chelsea Manning’s personal support fund. This fund is paying for her rent and bills while she’s in prison and is also being used to cover prison commissary funds as needed. Just let us know during the editing process that you’d like to donate your fee. Please do not include more than 3 poems in your submission.
To respond to this call for submissions, email firstname.lastname@example.org by May 1st, 2019.