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Poems for Pussy Riot: Inspired by Matisse’s Blue Nude IV by Anna Percy

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In February 2012, a group of activists from the punk collective Pussy Riot staged a protest in a Moscow Cathedral, denouncing the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for President Vladimir Putin. They were arrested on charges of hooliganism and later sentenced to two years in prison. Two members of the group, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, have now been sent to remote penal colonies, far from Moscow and their young children.

English PEN and our colleagues at PEN International consider the harsh sentences to be in retaliation for the criticisms the band have made of President Putin and the Orthodox Church, and therefore in breach of the International Convention on Political and Civil Rights, to which Russia is a signatory.  We are calling on the Russian authorities to release Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova immediately and unconditionally, and for all charges against fellow band member Yekaterina Samutsevich to be dropped. Please join us by sending letters of appeal to the authorities – more details below.

To help maintain awareness of their case, we’ve been posting daily tributes to the band, in the form of some extraordinary poems and images, on our website. These pieces and many more were published as an anthology, CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT, to coincide with their first appeal hearing on 1 October. Both e-book and print on demand versions of the collection are now available, with all proceeds going to Pussy Riot’s legal fund and our Writers at Risk programme.

We are determined to keep their case in the public eye and will be continuing to post more Poems for Pussy Riot on our website. Please help us by downloading, reading, sharing, tweeting, translating and remixing the amazing work produced by our Poets for Pussy Riot.

The following contribution is by poet Anna Percy, and is translated by John Wright.

 

Inspired by Matisse’s Blue Nude IV

 

Tell me about the blue women
Of your acquaintance
Tell me you see the waves of electric blue,
Emanating from grey clothes,
contorted, sectioned off
head severed at the neck, held on
by empty hands,
Limbs folded protecting the body
The acute blue body
The body radiating blueness
And the cause of blueness
In its largeness, its smallness, its marks,
The drugs, the want, the need, the surplus,
Old fingerprints, its victories, its refusals.
Only blue women really sing the blues
Their treble clefs and quavers blue
Between the lines on sheet music,
On their breath, out of speakers,
In steam in showers, all unnoticed in
Tears and cheap scorching whiskey,
Trembling, cerulean fading to stonewash
In the troposphere
I am a blue woman too
After the smell of spent explosives
Dissipates on the 6th of November
Till the wilting of daffodils on 6th of April
I too am gas flame, pained,
burning up those who touch
Blue women are too sharp:
Walking blades they cut swathes unnoticed 

 

Расскажи о синих женщинах,
которых знаешь
Скажи, что видишь волны электро-синие,
излучающиеся из серой одежды,
из изуродованной, разрезанной…
голова отрублена, ее прижимают
к телу пустые руки…
Члены тело защищают,
резкое тело,
тело, излучающее синеву,
А в чем причина синевы?
Она ведь большая, маленькая…
наркотики, желание, нужда, изобилие…
отпечатки пальцев, победы, отказ.
Только синие женщины по-настоящему поют блюз,
их дискантовые ключи и трели – также сини
между строк на нотах,
и в их дыхании, которое истекает из микрофонов,
и в паре в душах, незамечаемое в слезах
и в дешевом виски,
дрожа, синие чулки становятся джинсами
в тропосфере
я тоже синяя
после шестого ноября,
когда рассеется запах взорвавшегося динамита
до шестого апреля, когда
увянут нарциссы
Я тоже газовое пламя, больное,
обожгу всех, кто подойдет,
синие женщины слишком остры:
ходячие косы незаметно косят

 

TAKE ACTION FOR PUSSY RIOT

 

- Download the e-book: ePUB, Kindle and PDF versions available

The book is distributed on the ‘Pay What You Think It’s Worth’ model popularised by Radiohead and others. We recommend £5, but any amount is welcome and you can download for free if you wish. Click here to download.

 

- Order your print on demand copy

Due to popular demand, a print on demand copy of CATECHISM: POEMS FOR PUSSY RIOT is now available, and costs £7.95 (+ P&P). We’d also be really grateful if you could spare a few minutes to rate and review the book. Click here to order.

All profits from both e-book and print on demand copies will go to the Pussy Riot Legal fund and the English PEN Writers at Risk Programme.

 

- Send letters of appeal

- Expressing shock that the two year sentences against Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova have been upheld;
- Welcoming the suspended release on appeal of Yekaterina Samusevich, but noting that her freedom is not unconditional;
- Pointing out that the harsh sentence is clearly in retaliation for the lyrics of the song performed by Pussy Riot members, containing language that is strongly critical of the Church and of President Putin in particular, and is this in breach of international conventions, specifically Article 19 of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, to which Russia is a signatory;
- Therefore calling for the immediate and unconditional release of both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova, and the complete dismissal of the charges against all three women.

You can send messages to President Putin via the Kremlin website or to the following address:

President Vladimir Putin
President of the Russian Federation
23, Ilyinka Street,
Moscow, 103132
Russia

We would also recommend that you write to the Russian Embassy in the UK:

His Excellency Dr Alexander Vladimirovich Yakovenko
6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens,
London,
W8 4QP
Fax: 020 7727 8625

 

- Send messages of solidarity

Messages of solidarity to the prisoners can be sent via the FreePussyRiot website: www.freepussyriot.org

 


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