Archive for June, 2012

In cased you missed our official launch event, now you can read about it at The Oxonian Review! Just Click Here. Thanks again to all who made the day such a memorable one! We’re looking forward to seeing you next term! 


Liu Xiaobo: One Letter

Posted: June 16, 2012 in Uncategorized

At our launch event on 15 June we joined the campaign on behalf of Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese writer, activist and Nobel laureate who has been in detention since 2008. “One Letter” is a poem by Liu Xiaobo which we are posting here for you to read and share.

One Letter

one letter is enough
for me to transcend and face
you to speak

as the wind blows past
the night
uses its own blood
to write a secret verse
that reminds me each
word is the last word

the ice in your body
melts into a myth of fire
in the eyes of the executioner
fury turns to stone

two sets of iron rails
unexpectedly overlap
moths flap toward lamp
light, an eternal sign

that traces your shadow

Translated by Jeffrey Yang

Liu Xiaobo is one of China’s preeminent dissident writers and activists. He was arrested in December 2008 on the eve of the release of Charter 08, an extraordinary declaration he had co-authored calling for political reform, greater human rights, and an end to one-party rule. On 25 December 2009, Liu was convicted of ‘incitement to subversion’ for his role in Charter 08 and for several online articles. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Liu has spent much of his adult life as a target of the Chinese government. He played a crucial role in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, staging a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square in support of the students. Despite spending two years in prison for his role, he continued to speak out in favour of freedom of expression and democracy. As such, he spent an additional three years in a re-education-through-labour camp and was regularly detained and harassed until his most recent arrest.

In 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his long and non-violent struggle for human rights in China. He is the only Nobel laureate currently in detention.

Oxford Student PEN is delighted to announce the full line-up of speakers for this Friday’s launch and to share details of their impressive careers and publications – they bring a wealth of experience, expertise and perspectives to our afternoon of discussion and debate, and we hope you can come and hear them.

Elleke Boehmer is a critic, biographer, novelist, and the Professor of World Literature in English at the University of Oxford. Her work on post-colonial theory and history includes Colonial and Postcolonial Literature: Migrant Metaphors (1995) and Empire, the National, and the Postcolonial, 1890-1920 (2002), and her biography of Nelson Mandela (2008) has been translated into numerous languages. around the word. She is the author of four widely acclaimed novels: Screens Against the Sky (1990) An Immaculate Figure (1993), Bloodlines (2000), and Nile Baby (2008); as well as many anthologised short stories. She is currently writing a book, India Arrived, on the lives and cultural contributions of early Indian immigrants to Britain.

James Currey is the chairman of James Currey Publishers, and a leading publisher of African and Middle Eastern literature. He founded Heinemann’s African Writers Series in 1962, and went on to publish some of the most acclaimed works of twentieth-century African and Arabic literature, by authors such as Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Tayeb Salih and Naguib Mahfouz.

Born in Calcutta and educated both there and at Oxford, Ketaki Kushari Dyson is a poet, novelist, playwright, essayist and translator. She was the first Indian woman to gain a First in English Literature at Oxford, and she also holds a doctorate from the university. She writes in Bengali and English, and translates between her two languages in both directions. Her literary translations include Anglo-Saxon Kabita (translations of Anglo-Saxon poems into Bengali, Navana, 1987), I Won’t Let You Go: Selected Poems of Rabindranath Tagore (Bloodaxe, 1991),  her own play Raater Rode (Virgilio Libro, 2000), which was produced in Britain as a Millennium Festival Project, and Selected Poems of Buddhadeva Bose (Oxford University Press, Delhi, 2003). She lives in Kidlington.

Peter McDonald is Professor of English and Related Literature and Fellow of St. Hugh’s College, Oxford. His books include British Literary Culture and Publishing Practice, 1880-1914 (1997), The Literature Police: Apartheid Censorship and its Cultural Consequences (2009), as well as numerous articles and edited volumes on issues ranging from book history, literature and the law, censorship, media history, the institutions of global culture, and theories of interculturalism.

An award-winning poet, Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool, studied at Nottingham, and taught at the University of Salerno in Italy. He is the author of five collections of poetry, and his selected poems have been published in Holland and Italy. He edited the Faber Book of 20th-century Italian Poems (2004), and his translation of Valerio Magrelli’s book, The Embrace: Selected Poems (2009) won the 2010 John Florio Prize for Italian Translation and the 2010 Oxford-Weidenfeld Translation Prize. He lives in Oxford.

Patrick McGuinness is a critic, editor, poet, novelist and translator, Professor of French and Comparative Literature and a Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford. His books include two collections of poems, The Canals of Mars (2004), and Jilted City (2010), several editions, notably of the modernist poet Lynette Roberts and T.E. Hulme, and a translation of Mallarmé’s For Anatole’s Tomb. Jilted City was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and has just appeared in Italian as L’età della sedia vuota. He also writes under the pseudonym Liviu Campanu, a Romanian poet exiled to Constanta, whose sequence ‘City of Lost Walks’ appears in McGuinness’s collection Jilted City. Campanu was invented as a character for McGuinness’s novel, The Last Hundred Days, but then dropped from the novel. He was recuperated as a stand-alone poet, and his collection, translated by McGuinness, will appear in English in 2013 as City of Lost Walks.

Ellie Mae O’Hagan is a journalist, campaigner and activist. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian, New Statesman, and trade union publications, and has appeared on Newsnight, Radio 5 Live, and Sky News. She is currently working in the labour movement and is an active campaigner for UK Uncut.

Dr Rachel Potter is a Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of East Anglia. She is the author of Modernism and Democracy: Literary Culture 1900-1930 (2006) and she is currently working on a new book, Obscene Modernism: Literary Censorship and Experiment, 1900-1940, which will explore the relation between Anglo-American modernist literature, censorship and obscenity.

Over the past 30 years, Ros Schwartz has translated some 60 works of fiction and non-fiction from French, particularly Francophone writers such as Andrée Chedid, Aziz Chouaki, Fatou Diome and Dominique Eddé. Her new translation of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince was published in 2010. She co-translated Lorraine Connection by Dominique Manotti which won the 2008 Duncan Lawrie International Dagger award. In 2009 she was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French literature. A Fellow of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and a previous chair of the European Council of Literary Translators Associations, she is currently chair of English PEN’s Writers in Translation committee.

Heather Norman Söderlind, Acting Director of English PEN, joined the organisation in March 2012 from the British Library where she was Head of Public and Regional Marketing; prior to that she enjoyed a long  career at international news organisation Reuters, including postings to New York, Vienna and Geneva. She is a graduate of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, where she studied Modern Languages.  She is an ordinary member of the Alumni Council at the College and a Trustee of The Goldsmiths Centre in London.

Oxford Student PEN recently held our first ever seminar in association with St. Anne’s College, Oxford and English PEN, featuring award winning author Diego Marani and his translator Judith Landy discussing translation and interpretation. Our very own Dominic Davies has written up a review on the Oxonian Review website – check it out here.