Commune Editions began with friendships formed in struggle, with the antagonisms that define the last five years of the San Francisco Bay Area: the occupations formed in resistance to University of California tuition hikes in 2009-2011, the anti-police uprisings after the shooting of Oscar Grant that continued with the deaths of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and the local version of Occupy, referred to by some as the Oakland Commune. All of these antagonisms have been poet-heavy in the Bay Area. And they are producing their own poetries, ones full of ruptures, strange beauties—and also strangenesses, defined by explicit politics, the ones shaped by anarchist and communist organizing, theorizing, and struggle. This work inspires. And poets Juliana Spahr, Joshua Clover, and Jasper Bernes formed Commune Editions to publish anticapitalist poetries and poetics. And to also put this work in dialogue with poetries from other countries and from other historical moments, times and places where the politicization of poetry and the participation of poets in uprisings large and small was the convention.
We want to avoid self-important claims about poetry changing the world. Poetry is no replacement for concrete forms of action: strikes, blockades, occupations, protests, as well as the meetings, houses, libraries, and sharing of resources that enable them. But poetry can be a companion to these activities. Like the “riot dogs” of Athens, it can accompany the movements of the streets, provide support and pleasure, loud barking too.
Commune Editions is published in partnership with AK Press and distributed in the US and Canada by Consortium.