More poetry by Liu Xiaobo

Today, The New York Times ran an excerpt from “Experiencing Death,” a poem by Liu Xiaobo, translated by Jeffrey Yang.
From a wisp of smoke to a little heap of ash
I’ve drained the drink of the martyrs, sense spring’s
about to break into the brocade-brilliance of myriad flowers

Deep in the night, empty road
I’m biking home
I stop at a cigarette stand
A car follows me, crashes over my bicycle
some enormous brutes seize me
I’m handcuffed eyes covered mouth gagged
thrown into a prison van heading nowhere
Read the rest. The poem is from a collection of elegiac poems remembering the Tiananmen Square protest of 1989, and Jeffrey will be translating the whole book for Graywolf Press, as reported today in the Star Tribune:
June Fourth Elegies is an intense collection, its translator, Jeffrey Yang, said Wednesday. It is divided into 20 sections, each relating to the June 4, 1989, massacre at Tiananmen Square.

“The way the book is structured, the poems were written kind of at the same time every year, when Tiananmen happened,” Yang said. “Each one is a kind of recollection of a certain aspect of June 4. They’re very elegiac. The original title of the book in Chinese is literally something like Remembering Six Four.”
You can learn more about Liu Xiaobo at www.PEN.org/liu. You can read more of his poetry here and here—at that second link you can also hear his poems read by Paul Auster, Edward Albee, Don DeLillo, and E.L. Doctorow. (That second group of poems was first published in PEN America 11: Make Believe.) An essay he wrote about the internet in China was published in the (London) Times. (Update: a collection Liu’s political writings will also be published in English next year, by Harvard University Press.)

You can also watch Liu Xiaobo himself discuss freedom of expression here, and here you can watch several PEN writers read both his poetry and the seven sentences cited by the court in China when sentencing him to eleven years in prison.

(Photo from December 31, 2009 rally at the New York Public Library by Brian Montopoli.)


Unknown said...

The "Read the rest" link leads to the same excerpt on the NYT website.
Would it be possible to obtain a copy of the original poem in Chinese? Thanks!

David Haglund said...

Hi Helena,

If you email me at david@pen.org, I can send you a Chinese version. Also, I believe Graywolf will be publishing the collection in a bilingual edition -- though it won't be out until 2012.


that black girl artist said...

I would like a chinese version of the poem as well. I sent you an email also.

Thank you for your good work for writers.

Yamabuki said...

My poem for Liu Xiaobo

"Who is Liu Xiaobo"

Abraham Lincoln is Liu Xiaobo
Albert Schweitzer is Liu Xiaobo
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is Liu Xiaobo
Aung San Suu Kyi is Liu Xiaobo
Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh is Liu Xiaobo
Black Elk is Liu Xiaobo
Buddha is Liu Xiaobo
Confucius is Liu Xiaobo
Deepak Chopra is Liu Xiaobo
Desmond Tutu is Liu Xiaobo
Elie Wiesel is Liu Xiaobo
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is Liu Xiaobo
George Harrison is Liu Xiaobo
Jesus is Liu Xiaobo
Joan Baez is Liu Xiaobo
John Lennon is Liu Xiaobo
Kabir is Liu Xiaobo
Lao Tzu is Liu Xiaobo
Leo Tolstoy is Liu Xiaobo
Mahatma Ghandi is Liu Xiaobo
Martin Luther King Jr. is Liu Xiaobo
Mother Teresa is Liu Xiaobo
Nelson Mandala is Liu Xiaobo
Paramahansa Yogananda is Liu Xiaobo
Ram Dass is Liu Xiaobo
Rumi is Liu Xiaobo
Sri Aurobindo is Liu Xiaobo
St Francis of Assisi is Liu Xiaobo
Sun Yat-sen is Liu Xiaobo
The Dalai Lama is Liu Xiaobo
Thich Nhat Hanh is Liu Xiaobo
Václav Havel is Liu Xiaobo
I am Liu Xiaobo
Are you Liu Xiaobo?

Dec 2010