Poetry Depot

December 10, 2010

A poem by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate for Peace in 2010

Filed under: chinese, chinese — Tags: , , , , , , — razvan @ 1:17 pm

The writer that caused all the stir at the Nobel Prize for Peace ceremony in 2010 is Liu Xiaobo. As he is still in jail in China for political reasons, the presence of foreign ambassadors in Oslo for the ceremony became a problem of diplomatic offence for Chinese officials. It looks like it is for the first time from 1936 when the prize is not received by the laureate or by someone from his family. Last time the laureate was living in Germany in nazi regime. According to news reports, this time the Chinese authorities placed even the wife of Liu Xiaobo under house arrest.

The Chinese reaction was not so hard to guess: “What on earth has Liu Xiaobo ever contributed to human peace?”.

China’s propaganda apparatus first put the spotlight on Liu’s allegedly treasonous views in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown. Liu was jailed for his role in the student protests – and targeted for vitriolic attack by the official media. Liu, said the People’s Daily at the time, is a “traitor from head to toe.” (washingtonpost)

How can look a poem by someone that is convicted 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power”?

Longing to Escape 

for my wife
abandon the imagined martyrs
I long to lie at your feet, besides
being tied to death this is
my one duty
when the heart’s mirror-
clear, an enduring happiness
your toes will not break
a cat closes in behind
you, I want to shoo him away
as he turns his head, extends
a sharp claw toward me
deep within his blue eyes
there seems to be a prison
if I blindly step out
of with even the slightest
step I’d turn into a fish

8. 12. 1999

from Pen American Center

Liu Xiaobo is a political activist, university lecturer and author who has fought for a more democratic and open China for more than 20 years. His poetry collection was acquired by Graywolf editor Jeffrey Shotts and publisher Fiona McCrae. Award-winning poet Jeffrey Yang will translate the book from the Chinese and Graywolf will publish the bilingual edition in 2012.

“June Fourth Elegies” is divided into 20 sections, each an “anniversary offering” for the June 4, 1989, massacre at Tiananmen Square. Liu Xiaobo was one of the leading activists of that nonviolent protest. (announced by Twin Cities)

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