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.

  1. […] the Oxonian Review. You may remember that at the launch of Oxford Student PEN in June 2012 we took a campaign action on behalf of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Prize-winning Chinese poet and democracy activist who has been under house arrest with […]

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