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Myanmar poets speak out from the front lines of protest

Repression burnishes survivor's guilt and creative resistance

Myanmar poet San Nyein Oo -- now living in exile -- reads a statement of condolence from the local poets' union for Thet Naing Win, who was shot and killed by security forces during protests against the military takeover, in Mandalay, Myanmar, on Feb. 23, 2021. (Getty Images)

"In this spring I have not blown myself up in a suicide bombing. I have not taken up armed resistance. I have not demonstrated my love for the revolution by getting shot in the head, while holding the fighting peacock flag at the front of a protest," writes a Myanmar poet who goes by the name of PlugX in the introduction to "Beloved Revolution," a recent collection of his poems.

PlugX's survivor's guilt is widely shared among Myanmar's poets, scores of whom have been exiled, jailed or killed in the ongoing resistance to the military's seizure of power in 2021.

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