Monday, April 27, 2009

maybe it is better to be silent

Photo: Mary Ellen Mark

a found poem

the acting mayor
delivered a short address
a bit wooden

then stepped back

making room
for a row of schoolgirls
to recite verses
they had memorized


an animated gray-haired man
edged his way
alongside the podium

and stepped onto it

sending whispers
through the crowd

From Critic-Shy Russian Mayor Walks Into Chess-Master's Trap in this morning's New York Times, which recounts how, on Friday, former grand master Garry Kasparov stepped uninvited onto the campaign podium of Sochi mayoral candidate Anatoly Pakhomov, mentioned Pakhomov's political rival briefly, and then went on to make a powerful critique of the "rise of racist violence in Russia," and the government's role in that rising tide.

The event was staged to commemorate the Armenian genocide during World War I; Kasparov's mother was Armenian.

It's reported that two and a half minutes into his speech a local official made an effort to remove Kasparov from the stage to which he appealed to the crowd saying "What's happening? I cannot speak? Maybe it's better to be silent?" The crowd thundered NO! and Kasparov remained.

Ellen Barry reports in her NYT piece:

In the audience, Vartyan S. Mardirosyan, a lawyer, was chuckling delightedly at the spectacle. He said the authorities in Sochi had cracked down so hard on dissent that it reminded him of Soviet times, when people were too afraid to express their political opinions outside their own kitchens. The ceremony had been an “undeclared competition,” said Mr. Mardirosyan, 68, with Mr. Kasparov both the underdog and the undisputed winner.

He began walking home, a broad smile plastered on his face.

“He didn’t just play chess,” Mr. Mardirosyan said. “That was a checkmate.”

Postscript: Pakhomov appears to have won in a landslide on Sunday.

Related: The Tsar’s Opponent: Garry Kasparov takes aim at the power of Vladimir Putin in the 1 October 2007 issue of the New Yorker »

1 comment:

mrtn said...

Oh, wow. Nice. Haven't always been happy about Kasparov, but this is pretty awesome.

Related Posts with Thumbnails