Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring: Witness poems and essays from Burma/Myanmar (1988-2021)

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. If you are a publisher keen on supporting this initiative, please write to us at rights[at]pagesetters.com.sg. Limited physical copies are for sale, and the e-book is free to download for you to share the stories in this book as widely as possible.

About the Book

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.

This book will also be simultaneously released by Gaudy Boy and Balestier Press in the US and UK respectively. 

Limited number of copies signed by ko ko thett are available for purchase now!

Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring: Witness poems and essays from Burma/Myanmar (1988-2021)

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“WARNING: There’s blood everywhere in these pages. That’s as it should be. The book in your hands bears witness to the long, bloodstained struggle against military oppression by the people of Myanmar/Burma. Here is an anthology exceptional in impact and importance, not least because the poets and writers serving as witnesses have themselves fought and died at the frontlines of resistance. ‘Picking off new shoots will not stop the spring’ brings together for the first time in print⁠, in translations both inspired and felicitous, poet-heros of the ’88 Uprising, new voices from within the Chin, Kachin and Rohingya minorities, young poet-warriors of the ongoing armed struggle, and early martyrs of the Spring Revolution, notably K Za Win and Khet Thi. Together they raise a cri de coeur of resistance, resilience, and⁠, through their poetry⁠, redemption." —Wendy Law-Yone, Author of Golden Parasol: A Daughter’s Memoir of Burma, The Road to Wanting, Irrawaddy Tango and The Coffin Tree

“From the Yoma foothills to the Chindwin river, Monywa to Cox’s Bazaar, the voices in this searing new collections map a rich wilderness of witness. Kachin, Nepal, Burmese, Rohingya, Shan, Sino-Burmese and other voices mourn the murdered, the disappeared, and light a pyre for a vanished future. Spanning more than forty years of resistance since the iconic student protests of 8 August 1988 to the nationwide protests and murderous mayhem that followed the military coup of February 2021, these writings offer more than witness. Through lullabies, battle-cries, memes, digital memorials, kitchen cacophonies, protective prayers, odes to flip flops, roadside burials and prison cells, they redefine poetic justice. An elegy to democracy, an artists’ manifesto and a rejection of the moral bankruptcy of a corrupt military, Ko Ko Thett and Brian Haman’s urgent new anthology demands our attention.” —Penny Edwards, Associate Professor, Southeast Asian Studies (UC Berkeley)

“With poems and essays ranging from optimistic zeal to righteous rage, Myanmar’s writers have responded to the death and destruction wrought by the 2021 coup with prose imbued with birth, rebirth, and revolution. The powerful voices in this inspiring anthology demands that we all keep fighting for a free and just Myanmar, and reminds us that ‘If we retreat this time, we will have to live in defeat forever’.” ⁠—Aye Min Thant, Features editor, Frontier Myanmar


Ko Ko Thett,Brian Haman