Poets and Writers reports that “A group of literary journals—including Scoundrel Time, Bat City Review, and Poetry Northwest—have joined together to publish the poetry of Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who died on July 13 while in custody of the Chinese government for advancing pro-democracy beliefs. Xia, who was previously under house arrest, has since disappeared.”
Many of the journals preface their selections with a note by one of Xia’s translators, Jennifer Stern. From Stern’s note:
“Liu Xia was placed under house arrest when [her husband] Liu Xiaobo received the Nobel Peace Prize. Since then she’s been trapped in her home, barely allowed visitors or phone calls or guarded trips to the store. She hasn’t been able to sit with a friend and hear her own voice in response to another’s. Under house arrest, her health has deteriorated, and those few friends who’ve spoken with her say that the vibrant, specific woman they knew has become fragile, and is on the verge of breaking apart. Liu Xia was never accused of a crime. She was punished to punish her husband and as a lesson to a nation. And now no one knows where she is. No one knows where the Chinese government is hiding her.
“Many of us here read and write poems to know that we exist and that we are entwined with others through an art form that exists all over the world. Liu Xia is one of us, a poet. I wish there was one way to stop the erasure of a human, but I don’t think there is. Yet we can do this: read Liu Xia’s poems. They exist. We can enjoy them, or not. We can argue with them. We can pass them on to a friend and say, “Read this, this poet exists.” We can teach her poems or keep them for ourselves. We exist. And because of that, Liu Xia’s poems can speak even when her voice can’t be heard. I want to believe that it’s harder to erase this person, specific in her words and life, when we’re in the middle of a conversation.”
—Jennifer Stern, co-translator of Liu Xia’s poems
You’re always disappointed in me.
I too, can do nothing about myself.
Poems with my name
on them pile up,
but you don’t know it’s a scam.
A lonely soul, a guest,
comes now and then and moves my pen.
He likes my writing
and the way I smoke.