American Samizdat

Diode Editions | forthcoming in 2019

A Winner of the 2018 Diode Editions Full-Length Book Contest

 

sam· iz· dat

/ˈsämēzdat/

noun

  1. the clandestine copying and distribution of literature banned by the state, especially formerly in the communist countries of eastern Europe.

Imagine a United States in which the First Amendment no longer exists. What would we say? What kind of poems would we read and write? In a series of terrified, lyrical fragments, American Samizdat contemplates this possibility. The Polish poets who wrote under the censoring eye of Communism serve as models for the collection. Throughout American Samizdat, an anonymous speaker agonizes over questions of freedom, truth, and the resilience of democracy; she is the American version of Pan Cogito, Zbigniew Herbert’s poetic alter ego, who once critiqued an oppressive regime through the coded language of myth, fable, and fairytale. Set in a world of 24-hour news coverage, social media, and alternative facts, American Samizdat wonders what we’ve become and where we’re going.