Liu Xia: “June 2nd, 1989”

June 2nd, 1989

— for Xiaobo

This isn’t good weather
I said to myself
standing under the lush sun.

Standing behind you
I patted your head
and your hair pricked my palm
making it strange to me.

I didn’t have a chance
to say a word before you became a character
in the news, everyone looking up to you
as I was worn down
at the edge of the crowd
just smoking
and watching the sky

A new myth, maybe, was forming there,
but the sun’s sharp light
blinded me from seeing it.

An Excerpt from Liu Xia Because, Because, Because

Give me a glass of wine.
Let me play the game with you
regardless of ending with a full house applauding
or one person alone crying
to the night

— from Liu Xia’s “Game” in the collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Liao Yiwu About the Poet Liu Xia (Whose Collection EMPTY CHAIRS Self Is Currently Reading)

From “The Story of a Bird,” Liao Yiwu’s introduction to Liu Xia’s collection Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015):

When we first met, we were very young, and knew nothing but writing poetry. The bird called Liu Xia lived in a large, cage-like room on the twenty-second floor of a building on West Double Elm Tree Lane in Beijing. I traveled from Sichuan to meet her and climbed up the stairs as the elevator was broken. From the moment I knocked on the cage door, Liu Xia never stopped giggling. Her chin became pointy when she smiled, and she laughed like a bird, unrestrained. No wonder she wrote this:

Then, we started to hate winter,
the long slumber.
We’d put a red lamp
outside overnight
so its light would tell our bird
we were waiting.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Liu Xia: “Days”

from her collection Empty Chairs: Selected Poems, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Days

Our life, like the calendar
on the wall,
presents a stale picture.

Friends come at night
and I cook enough dishes to cover the table —
remembering to put salt in each.
You get chatty
without even drinking wine.
Everyone is happy and eats chicken feet
until the bones are sucked white.

At dawn, our friends are suddenly gone
like a breeze.
The sunflowers on the window curtain
are crazily bright
against the light.
Cigarette ashes and beautiful fish bones
are jammed down our throats.
Without looking at each other
we climb into bed.

Liu Xia is a Chinese poet and artist who has lived under strict house arrest since her husband, poet and activist Liu Xiaobo, was imprisoned in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” and received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Mind Cleanse for the New Year

Self stopped reading In Cold Blood even though she was 100 pages from the end. She had not expected to have the murders described in such detail, starting on p. 237. Of course, since none of the victims survived, the crime is told from the murderers’ point of view.

The one she ached for most particularly was the 16-year-old, Nancy Clutter. Alone in her room, listening while the killers dealt with first, her father, then her mother, she decided to show herself when they dragged her younger brother from his bed. She had taken the trouble to get fully dressed. She came out of her room smiling at the two murderers, as if to charm them. She faced them.

What. A. Brave. Girl.

So, because of that, self stopped reading at p. 240.

Instead, she browses through one of her poetry books, Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry. It was the assigned text in a class on Chinese poetry in translation, taught by James J. Y. Liu in the Department of Asian Languages at Stanford.

Here’s a sample:

I Say Good-bye to Fan An-ch’eng

by Hsieh Tiao (464-499)

In the usual way of the young
we made appointments
and goodbye was easy.
Now in our decay and fragility, separation is difficult.

Don’t say “One cup of wine.”
Tomorrow will we hold this cup?
And if in dreams I can’t find this road,
how, thinking of you,
will I be comforted?
And if in dreams I can’t find this road

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Liu Xia: EMPTY CHAIRS (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Liu Xia is the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize awardee Liu Xiaobo (Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an eleven-year sentence in China for the Charter 08 Manifesto).

The excerpt from Black Sail is in her collection, Empty Chairs (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Black Sail (translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern)

You reach out your arms and pull the man
close, quiet, until his hair floats like seaweed.
Then you calm down and light a cigarette — green smoke
rises. The next day, when firecrackers
clear the way for a full black sail,
you become a gust of wind, a cloud, an eye.

DSCN0406

Lake Annaghmakerrig, Ireland

Poetry for After November 8, 2016

Excerpt from “I Copy the Scriptures,” by Liu Xia

Day and night,
I copy the Diamond Sutra
of Prajnaparamita.
My writing looks more and more
square.
It proves that I have not gone
entirely
insane, but the tree I drew
hasn’t grown a leaf.

from the collection Empty Chairs: Selected Poems by Liu Xia, translated from the Chinese by Ming Di and Jennifer Stern (Graywolf Press, 2015)

Preparing for the New Year

An excerpt from Song Lyric # 43 by 12th century Chinese poet Li Qingzhao:

I’ve heard spring is still lovely at Twin Streams,
I’d like to go boating in a light skiff there
But fear the tiny grasshopper boats they have
Would not carry
Such a quantity of sorrow.

A book by Stanford Professor of Sinology Ronald Egan, The Burden of Female Talent: The Poet Li Qingzhao and Her History in China (Harvard Asia Center, 2013), analyzes her legacy.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Am Reading Today, Last Tuesday of February 2015

blogs

a friend’s novel

Roberto Bolaño’s 2666

tweets about the Oscars

Sunflower Splendor: Two Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry, Co-edited by Wu-chi Liu and Irving Yucheng Lo

Here’s a poem called “Southern Mountains,” by Han Yu:

So therefore I watched a pool
Whose clear depths concealed water dragons.

Bending I could gather fish and prawns,
But who dares plunder divine beings?

About Han Yu: He was a late T’ang Dynasty poet, and a contemporary of Li Po and Tu Fu. He was born into a literary family of landed gentry in the province of Hunan. He served in several high posts in the government: Vice President of the Ministry of War, Vice-President of the Ministry of Personnel, and Metropolitan Governor. He died in Ch’ang-an in 824, at the age of 56.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

More for the Reading List: NYTBR 3 February 2012

That date (not today’s date, which is the 19th, but the date of the NYTBR issue) happens to be Dear Departed Dad’s death anniversary.  Oh Dear Departed Dad, don’t think of Second Daughter too unkindly:  all she’s done has been produce a couple of short story collections and one novella!  While perfecting her reading and cooking skills!  Not to mention gardening!

Now to the NYTBR.  Following, a lits of books self is interested in perusing:

  • Two translations of Mo Yan, both by Howard GoldblattSandalwood Death and Pow!  The review is by Ian Buruma, who says of Mo Yan:  “There is nothing mandarin, or even urbane, about Mo Yan’s work.  He has retained the earthy character of rural Shandong, where he grew up in a farming family.”
  • Recommended by humorist Dave Barry:  Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, The Code of the Woosters (Wodehouse, self presumes), and A Confederacy of Dunces
  • I, Hogarth, by Michael Dean.  Self is a sucker for English biographies, they follow such an arc (usually, slicing through class divisions)
  • Tenth of December:  Stories, by George Saunders.  Self would read anything by George Saunders.  Anything.  Even if the entire book consisted of just one page.
  • The Lady and Her Monsters:  A Tale of Dissections, Real-Life Dr. Frankensteins, and the Creation of Mary Shelley’s Masterpiece, by Roseanne Montillo.  Three reasons to read this book:  (1)  Mary Shelley herself is a masterpiece.  (2)  It’s about science and literature.  (3)  The review by Deborah Blum is so beguiling.
  • Another biography!  Self is absolutely delirious with happiness!  The Pinecone:  The Story of Sarah Losh, Forgotten Romantic Heroine —  Antiquarian, Architect, and Visionary, by Jenny Uglow
  • Another short story collection!  By a writer self has never heard of before!  The News From Spain:  Seven Variations on a Love Story, by Joan Wickersham

And now, self must get dressed to drop off stuff at the post office.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.  Stay tuned.

« Older entries Newer entries »

The life of B

Mainly through the lens of a Nikon

myguiltypleasures

welcome to my past, present and future mixed with whatever pops up right now

Iain Kelly

Fiction Writing

John's Space .....

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference." The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost

nancy merrill photography

capturing memories one moment at a time

Rantings Of A Third Kind

The Blog about everything and nothing and it's all done in the best possible taste!

Sauce Box

Never get lost in the Sauce

GK Dutta

Be One... Make One...

Cee's Photo Challenges

Teaching the art of composition for photography.

Fashion Not Fear

Fueling fearlessness through fashion and inspiration.

Wanderlust and Wonderment

My writing and photo journey of inspiration and discovery

transcribingmemory

Decades of her words.

John Oliver Mason

Observations about my life and the world around me.

InMyDirection

fiction, short story, writing, creative content

Insanity at its best!

Yousuf Bawany's Blog

lita doolan productions

Any old world uncovered by new writing

unbolt me

the literary asylum

CSP Archives

Archive of the CSP

The 100 Greatest Books Challenge

A journey from one end of the bookshelf to the other