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  • By Gleb Zavlanov

Demented Choirs

Beware utopia’s demented choirs.

Their melodies, with sweet, seductive splendor,

Inflaming Man’s fantastical desires

For liberty from life’s abysmal mires,

Can even bid the stubbornest surrender.

Beware utopia’s demented choirs.

In semblance prophets, but in spirit liars,

Yet none would seem as righteous or as tender

Inflaming Man’s fantastical desires,

‘Til every city bursts in purging fires

And everybody’s labelled an offender.

Beware utopia’s demented choirs.

Don’t hesitate to tear their filthy fliers.

Rebuke the one self-crowned Man’s final mender,

Inflaming Man’s fantastical desires,

Or join the bright and ever-growing pyres

With all the other “heathenish” deniers.

Beware utopia’s demented choirs,

Inflaming Man’s fantastical desires.

Gleb Zavlanov is a poet and songwriter living in New York City. He is a 2017 graduate of Townsend Harris High School. His YouTube channel can be found here.


Dec 29, 2020

Dear Mackenzie,

I think the poem succeeds in all its goals.

Indeed, Mr. Gleb manages to write a compelling piece of political poetry per se without ever descending or being caught in the "mire." He does so by creating his own set of predicates and metaphorical images that speak for themselves, rather than using the pre-existing and direct predicates usually associated with this kind of subject. Gleb manages to communicates a profound irony about the nature of human beings, the paradoxes of not only desire and sophistry, but of propaganda, especially as it pertains cultural propaganda. This is very powerful.

Of course, Mr. Gleb does not need to directly refer to any of his subjects or their predicates, which is…


Dec 28, 2020

There is a generation young and brilliant minds who do not sing in "Utopia's demented choirs," as this interesting villanelle of Gleb Zavlanov shows. While I cannot endorse this particular use of the villanelle as suitable to the form's history and tradition (Jean Passerat would be a good poet to study in this domain), we must keep in mind Zavlanov's age and be all the more impressed with his profound insight and sense of timelessness as he quite intelligently enlarges his subject to the larger idea of utopia in general. Even so, Dylan Thomas, who was indeed a member of Utopia's demented choir, abused the villanelle, and hideously so, in his "Do not go gentle into that good night." Here…

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