Tyranny needs no companions

The book 'Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring' with a row of roses underneath

Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring is a multi-publisher, not-for-profit collaboration that aims to amplify the voices of the Burmese people alongside the ongoing Civil Disobedience Movement. Today, as we release this important anthology, the Ethos Team would like to share this message penned by our ally publisher Gaudy Boy.


We are living in a new Age of Authoritarianism, and it is incumbent on all of us to fight its oppressive spirit wherever we find it, even when it is within us. Technology has created new tools for state surveillance, mass disinformation, and capitalist exploitation, but it has also given us new means to highlight injustice, organize resistance, and express solidarity. The Civil Disobedience Movement in Myanmar does not concern just the Burmese, but all of us. One year after the military coup against a democratically elected government, if we permit the Burmese dictatorship to legitimize itself, we reinforce the powers of totalitarianism and weaken the forces of liberty everywhere.

We need to heed the voices of resistance in this vital anthology, Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring: Witness poems and essays from Burma/Myanmar 1998–2021. The voices are many and various, but they all say, Courage! Fatefully, eight days before he was shot dead by Myanmar security forces in a protest, the acclaimed poet K Za Win wrote, “The fuse of the Revolution/ is either you or myself!” The gauntlet is thus thrown down to all, like me, who would claim to be poets. A schoolteacher too, I cannot help but be moved by Min San Wai’s poem, dedicated to Pan Ei Phyu, a 14-year-old girl who was killed by a bullet that penetrated her home. “There’s a hole the size of a pencil tip,” Min writes, “in the bamboo wall of our house.” Pan Ei Phyu will never hold another pencil, but we can hold it for her, by writing her story large.

Gaudy Boy is honored to publish this necessary collection of witness writings in the US, together with ally publishers Ethos Books in Southeast Asia and Balestier Press in the UK. We will take to heart the courage of these inspired defenders of democracy. We will heed the voice of Khin CM Maung who writes:

“The people of Myanmar and its diaspora are still resisting. We will persist as we did in our youth, to find small pockets of happiness amid crisis, because we are human. We, too, lay our heads down to sleep, eager to wake in the morning. We, too, work to feed our families. We, too, have felt the light of freedom in our lives. When you hear our stories, take heed, and remember the fragility of life. I ask you to defend the democracy of your country and every country around the world, for tyranny needs no companions.”

Jee Leong Koh
Publisher and Editor-in-Chief
Gaudy Boy

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