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Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring: witness poems and essays from Burma / Myanmar 1988–2021

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Edited by Ko Ko Thett & Brian Haman

Fallen innocents on blood-stained streets. The defiant banging of pots and pans echoing in the darkness. The birth of a springtime revolution amidst the interrupted lives of a country and its people. On the morning of 1 February 2021, a coup d’état was initiated by the Tatmadaw, Myanmar’s military, effectively overthrowing the democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, and casting Myanmar into chaos.

This volume collects the poetry and prose of the many writers, cultural figures, and everyday people on the ground in Myanmar’s urban centres, rural countryside and in the diaspora, as they document, memorialize, or merely try to come to grips with the violence and traumas unfolding before their eyes. Written in English or translated from the original Burmese the collection includes some of Myanmar’s most important contemporary authors and dissidents, such as Ma Thida, Nyipulay and K Za Win, as well as up and coming authors and poets from all over Myanmar, reflecting the country’s rich cultural and ethnic diversity.

In addition, poetry and essays that reflect socioeconomic life of the so-called transitional Myanmar (2010-2020), a period of relative freedom for writers when much of the censorship regime was lifted and the internet and social media were introduced in the country, as well as prominent protest poems and essays, by dissidents Min Ko Naing, U Win Tin and Min Lu, who lived through the hopes and horrors of the 1988 uprising of Myanmar are featured in this volume.

A feast for the literary imagination, an elegy to those who have fallen, and a courageous act of defiance by those that continue to fight, these firsthand accounts provide an important window into a crucial moment in Myanmar’s history.