We recently asked the early contributors to the Polity of Literature series to tell us about projects or persons or places that make them believe a “polity of literature” is real and can be found here and now. Duygu Erbil, a scholar of literature and activism at Utrech University (who earlier wrote for us about the American Prison Writing Archive), found one example in an anonymous Turkish group of “prison-associated artists and writers” called Görüşeceğiz (a salutation prisoners use, meaning we will see each other again). Görüşeceğiz posts writing and art by prisoners using a variety of online platforms. Presenting the old and canonical alongside the new and unvetted—while also performing as anonymous hosts who model a kind of general appreciation for every act of expression, every disclosure in what is a decidedly egalitarian “space of appearance”—Görüşeceğiz maintains the pluralism that is necessary for a polity. If this is “literature,” then Görüşeceğiz is a functioning Polity of Literature.
Görüşeceğiz thus forces the question, can “literature” exist without a hierarchy? Can there be literature apart from designations of “good” or “bad,” “high” and “low,” or “necessary” versus “disposable?” To enter a polity we must leave our hierarchies at the door. If Görüşeceğiz can teach us how to read and write together—without always talking about our tastes—maybe it can give us a living Polity of Literature, here and now.
1 March, 2022