COUP: Anthology-Manifesto

by Marcia Tiburi, Annita Costa Malufe, Ana Rüsche, and Denise Bottmann
translated from the Portuguese by Greice Holleran
[view as .pdf]

Preface of COUP: Anthology-Manifesto

There is no post-coup poetry. There is no poetry in the wake of the coup. Poetry cannot confront the coup. Poetry cannot protect us from the coup.
     Poetry doesn’t get in line at the coup like it’s paying overdue bank accounts, poetry doesn’t carry the coffin of democracy in a coup-drawn hearse. Poetry is not a prayer for the coup. Poetry is not a procession, it’s not like flowers at a wake to make death less ugly. It is not a spectacle, it is not weeping, it is not comfort, it is not the way out. And the coup is not death.
     Because death is more dignified than the coup.
     Poetry is not above the coup. Poetry is not below the coup. Poetry cannot explain the coup. It is not to endure the coup. Poetry is not a balm to soothe the coup’s burnt feet atop democracy’s extinguished embers.
     There is no poetry that connects a citizen to the coup. There is no poetry that makes the coup conceivable. There is no poetry to dialogue with the coup. The coup is not measurable, the coup is not immeasurable. Poetry is not a gauge of the coup.
     No poetic theory can account for the coup. There cannot be any theory to understand the coup. A political philosophy of the coup. An aesthetic of the coup. The coup cannot be explained by science, by medicine or botany, by anthropology or psychology, by geology or quantum physics, by cartography or palmistry for the coup’s stricken or the ones who struck them. Poetry is not an expression that survives the coup because science failed to prevent a heart attack by examining the coup’s anatomy.
     The thing is, poetry has nothing to do with the coup. The coup doesn’t recognize poetry. The coup appears when poetry disappears.
     The coup is where poetry isn’t.
      It is where there is no nakedness.
     There is no poetry where there is the coup. Poetry doesn’t converse with the coup, doesn’t agree with it, doesn’t succumb to it. Poetry doesn’t get lost, doesn’t surrender, doesn’t interfere, doesn’t do any work on behalf of the coup. It doesn’t give the coup a friendly handshake. Poetry will not die for the coup, for however many coups the coup can produce. Poetry persists and lends us a hand in writing this text, a text that throws itself like a stone against the transparent glass the coup erects as it disrupts life to make room for specters.
     There is no poetics of the coup. No elaboration on the coup is sufficient; we will never understand the coup, for as much as the coup is against everyone, it is against us, every single one of us. We sensed the coup without knowing where it happened, in which part of our body—the sloping stone wall, the ceiling—we felt that venomous sting, that kick, that stab, that shot, that knockout punch.
     The coup is huge, and it could become gigantic. The coup is the size of the misery it causes. Even if the coup comes from outside, from below, from above, from behind, the coup reaches all of us within. In our essence, where body and spirit are one and the same. Poetry can have only one relationship to the coup. It doesn’t matter when, it doesn’t matter how, the relationship that poetry has to the coup is always the same: poetry is against the coup.
     There is no post-coup poetry. There is only anti-coup poetry. The coup surges, and poetry insurges. Anti-coup poetry is spittle, stoning, punching, kicking, flaming tires, blocked roads, general strike.
     Poetry is more than text—it seeks to open the path to revolutionary life with the dangerous arms of the written word.
-Marcia Tiburi              




my words beat on the walls
anyone home?
which are the greatest doubts facing a closed door
facing a wall we would just have to
ask how to tear it down how
to build it these fractured ruins of an old divide
today nothing is split down the middle nothing but
the same order the same history of everything
anyone home? someone to hear us when we scream
barefoot in the hallway with wet hair
anyone hear us?
my words beat on the hollow walls i hear
the echo of my words the coup in the void the
greatest doubts facing a wall the only thing to do
is tear it down but the words echo in the void they themselves
senseless coups
if making sense is what matters they miss the mark:
they lose what matters if they don’t make sense
in a world turned lonely in a world that
contemplates ruins but something was there before
to tear down a wall to knock down the closed door
a world was waiting behind it
today the words beat on the walls 
strike the coup in the void
and is there anyone
left to listen?
Que peut-on contre un mur sinon l’abattre?1
Edmond Jabès
-Annita Costa Malufe


[next page]


  1. From Jabès’s Le livre des questions (1963), which was written in response to his exile from his native Egypt and the anti-semitism he was met with when he fled to Paris. It translates roughly to, “What can one do against a wall but tear it down?”